The parents of a seven-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome have accused the Catholic Church of ‘cruel discrimination’ for refusing to allow him to take Holy Communion.
Denum Ellarby attends a mainstream Roman Catholic primary school and his parents wanted him to join his classmates in the First Communion ceremony.
But they claim their parish priest refused to consider him for the necessary preparation classes and was ‘abrupt’ when Denum’s mother Clare tried to discuss the matter with him.
Mrs Ellarby said she complained to diocese chiefs, but they have backed Father Patrick Mungovin’s stance that the boy would not sufficiently ‘understand the preparation’ or be able to ‘enjoy participation in Mass’.
The church has denied banning Denum and says it hopes he will be ready to participate in the important religious ceremony in the future……Michael McQuinn, the Leeds diocese Vicar General, said in a letter that Father Mungovin was not ‘unreasonable in sharing the view that Denum should proceed to First Sacraments when he will be better placed to understand the preparation and to enjoy participation in Mass’.
A diocese spokesman said: ‘Christians come to share fully in the life of the Christian Church through the sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation.
‘Often Baptism is celebrated for babies in order to bring them into the life of the Church but they only proceed to the sacrament of First Communion when they take part in the Church’s life and understand the Church’s faith in regard to these sacraments.’