An Obama supporter remembers: ‘The Day I Was Denied Communion’

An Obama supporter remembers: ‘The Day I Was Denied Communion’ November 3, 2019

It happened in 2008. It got some attention at the time but has been largely forgotten.

While the circumstances and people involved are significantly different, this gives one perspective, and a rare first-person account, of someone who was publicly refused the sacrament.

Douglas Kmiec — a pro-life, conservative supporter of Ronald Reagan — came out in support of Barack Obama and, for that announcement, was denied communion at Mass in California. It began when he found himself the subject of the priest’s homily — and it continued into the communion line.

He wrote about the experience:

 The couples who stood in line before my wife and myself received the body of Christ in their hands or on their tongues and returned to their seats. My wife received. My hand outstretched, the priest shook his head from side to side. Was that a no? It was Judgment Day, and I hadn’t made it. LSAT Insufficient. Inadequate GPA. Do not pass GO…go directly to Hell.

Right there I was letting down every priest that had shared the faith tradition with me. I imagined my late mother, who seldom returned home from the factory until well after midnight, so that we could afford the tuition at the Catholic school, hanging her head in shame. All the traditions–prayers before meals, May altars and rosaries, novenas and indulgences, the pilgrimages to ten churches on Good Friday–all had somehow been zeroed out. Catholic identity theft, stolen right there by our Lord’s faithful servant, Father _____. I won’t tell you his name because he doesn’t represent the Church’s thinking. Indeed, Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, who a month or so later investigated the incident “for the good of the Church,” said it was important to call what happened “shameful and indefensible.”

I was grateful for the Cardinal’s apt description, though like an insurance payment long after suffering a bodily injury, I must say at the moment on that evening, I was the one who felt without defense and entirely shameful. Right there in that moment every Catholic good deed and good thought and good wish of love of neighbor that I once had seemed inconsequential and insufficient. Like a child feeling unfairly disciplined, but disciplined nonetheless, I pleaded with empty hand outstretched: “I think you’re making a mistake, Father.” His red complexion redder now, betraying righteous anger. His stretched hand over the top of the Ciborium, the container for the consecrated bread as if I was going to grab a handful and make a run for it, and then the pronouncement: “No, you are the one who made the mistake.”

From the back of the Communion line someone shouted out, “Are you judging this man, Father?”

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