Priest in Grand Rapids denies gay Michigan judge communion [written by John Beutler]
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Judge Sara Smolenski, chief judge of the Kent County District Court, has been denied Communion by Fr. Scott Nolan, pastor of St. Stephen Church in Grand Rapids, MI, because she is married to a woman. She has been a parishioner for many years.
Rod Dreher, a well-known journalist with articles in numerous publications, posted a great analysis of this matter on Nov. 27, 2019. He challenges silent, faithful parishioners who have been afraid to speak to the media in defense of
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You need to find a backbone. Your priest is doing the hard work of defending the Eucharist and defending Church teaching, and is being held up by the local media and gay activists as a pariah. You are wrong to let him stand there and take all this contempt and abuse by himself. Conservative Christians often complain that the clergy won’t take tough stands on issues. Well, here’s a priest doing exactly that, but it appears that he’s standing all by himself. This is a test for him, certainly, but also for the orthodox Catholics of Grand Rapids.

I’m told by a lay Catholic source in Grand Rapids, someone who is close to the situation, that Judge Smolenski was part of a group of gay local Catholics who skyped with Father James Martin about his pro-LGBT book “Building A Bridge” (they talked about it on Facebook). A week or two later, Judge Smolenski and others showed up at mass wearing Pride pins. Father Nolan gave the judge communion, so as not to cause a scene, but phoned her later and told her not to present herself for communion any more. If true, that shows that the priest was willing to tolerate the gay-married judge receiving communion, but not if she was going to turn it into a political stunt.
Now she’s leading a campaign within the parish to demand Father Scott’s ouster for acting according to Catholic teaching.
Back in 2016, when Judge Smolenski and her partner married, the same reporter, Barton Deiters, did a story, featuring her fighting back tears on camera because neither her church nor her partner’s church would allow them to marry within either church. So she’s been public for years in her anger at the Catholic Church over this….
NOTE: Dreher includes at the link above a public letter that Judge Smolenski, and two colleagues, sent in October. A “Red Mass” is a traditional Catholic liturgy designed to celebrate the beginning of a legal term in the fall. Catholic judges typically attend. According to this letter, Smolenski acknowledges the right of a priest to deny communion to “those who are not in conformity with the teaching of the Church.” But now, she’s fighting tears on local TV to protest an exercise of the right she publicly acknowledged Father Nolan has. What changed since October 11?

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. sandi

    Steve, you said: "If true, that shows that the priest was willing to tolerate the gay-married judge receiving communion, but not if she was going to turn it into a political stunt." I hope that you are wrong on that account–that he was willing to tolerate her receiving communion while she was living in and practicing sin. Perhaps he did not know her marital situation at the time she presented herself for communion wearing the Gay Pride button? Or, maybe he thought they were practicing celibacy in their relationship? Thus, he gave her Jesus. I cannot believe that he would give her Jesus knowing her situation just to prevent a scene. At least, I hope not. That would have been a sin for him as well as for her. I am grateful that he sought her out afterward, talked to her, and told her not to present herself for communion. I am also very grateful that his Bishop supported him.

    STEVE RAY HERE: Sandi, as I said at the top of the blog, it is not my words but that of John Beutler and Rod Dreher. But to the point, I agree with you.

  2. Anna Milone Somers

    Please post if there is a way we can show our support for Fr. Nolan. I would like to commend him for his bravery in the face of the virulent secular theology we face today. Those who stand for everything stand for nothing.

    STEVE RAY HERE: I fooled the name and parish and got the e-mail for the bishop and Fr. Nolan.

  3. Thomas M Govern

    These brave Priests (like the one denying Biden) need our support! Catholic Bishops need to get an education from them especially those like Cardinal Dolan. Abortion and gay sex are non-negotiable actions that need our Church to stand up to. So sad that many Catholic do not vote their Churches positions and so sad that so many Church leaders are afraid to educate regarding the Church’s position. What do we lose if abortion advocates and gay marriage advocates leave the Church? The were not in it morally to begin with!
    Hate the sin but love the sinner still needs to educate the sinner.

  4. JoAnne McCormack

    We need more priests like this. God Bless Father and his Bishop for standing up for the teachings of Jesus! So tired of all this nonsense.

  5. Brian Hutching

    I read this in another news story and it saddens me that we concentrate on issues like this when there are far more important issues at stake for our world eg the way we treat the planet, how we deal with the poor of this world, rampant free market capitalism which has winners and losers in the sharing of this world’s resources.

  6. sandi

    Brian, you are obviously not a Catholic or you would know that receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE. We are talking about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Nothing – no agenda or thing or policy or environnment issue or person on earth compares to Him or is more important than Him.

  7. Bill912

    Amen, sandi! Also, people who eat and drink the Body and Blood of the Lord unworthily are endangering their souls. The priest prevented her from committing the sin of sacrilege. (1Corinthians, chapter 11. There’s that pesky St. Paul again!)

  8. Thomas M Govern

    Brian, I admire your response, but you make the classic mistake that those who support Catholic doctrine do not support those issues you list. That is simply not true and the immediate cop out of the left. The “far more important issues” you are concerned about are notable but do you no good if you go to hell because you are estranged from the “Church”.

  9. Greg

    This isn’t directly addressed to Brian,, who sees real problems, but does it address our nation’s inability to heal itself? How can we fix our problems? Cause and effect, cause and effect… underlie our attempts to identify answers to the ills and perceived injustices so we can make the world a better place for everyone. Not always easy since problems stem from a long,multifactorial sequence of events over time- wasn’t it Congress that thought vaping was a good alternative to smoking, instead of just saying it’s really bad to inhale inappropriate chemicals into our lungs, since they are for breathing clear air? And some even died as adirect result!That’s about how deep our intellects go these days.

    Using our organs properly, isn’t limited to our lungs. A well and properly fed stomach works the same way. Health affects us personally,those around us, and society as a whole. Our morality is as intimate to us as our organs, and intertwined as well, otherwise we ought never be using words like “ought” or “should”.

    Proper use of sexuality has historically always been linked to marriage, and the raising of kids, as far back as history of civilizations. Even pagan Greece with all its perversities understood that. Disconnecting sex organs from their primary purpose within marriage and child-rearing, through contraception, abortion, and self-gratification, devoid of its intended purpose, is the junk food that leads to loss of chastity, objectification of women, adultery, breakdown of families, hurt and abused children, poverty, breakdown of morality, environmental abuse, greed etc., leading to the societies ills, and the death of civilizations.

    Loss of morality based on truth, not limited to, but often including the biologically powerful sex drive, and all its dysfunctional applications, ends up with people searching for happiness by dancing around the altars of wealth, power, pleasure, and honor. You can try to “cure” the dysfunctional effects in society trying to push the altars over, but they’ll either rebuild, or jump to one of the others. If we don’t learn to worship and “dance” around the one true altar of sacrifice, at the wedding supper of the Lamb, we as a country, will continue lying to ourselves, and probably die the death God warned us of, to our first married couple in the garden of Eden.

    STEVE RAY HERE: Well thought out and very well said!!

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