Minnesota Teen Denied Confirmation Because of Support for Marriage Equality

Lennon Cihak

A 17-year old in Barnesville, Minnesota, is being denied Confirmation for posting a photo on Facebook revealing his opposition to the failed constitutional amendment in that state that would have defined marriage as one man and one woman, and his family is suffering repercussions too.

The mother of Lennon Cihak was informed in a private meeting with their parish priest, Fr. Gary LaMoine, that Lennon would be unable to receive the sacrament, even though Lennon had participated in a service programand attends Mass.

The photo in question is one of Lennon holding a lawn sign in support of the marriage amendment that the teen altered to show his support for marriage equality.

Other students in the Confirmation class ‘Liked’ the photo, thus the family cannot understand why Cihak was singled out. The priest sanctioning Lennon referred to it as an ‘internal and pastoral’ matter when questioned, and said he is consulting diocesan officials regarding the matter, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reports that the Cihak family is now being sanctioned for their son’s Facebook post, yet some members remain committed to the Catholic Church:

“But now the family is not allowed to participate in Communion there, Doug [Cihak, Lennon’s father] said, and he’s worried as to how far the sanctions will go, expressing concern about being able to be buried alongside his parents.

“Still, Doug insists he’s not mad at LaMoine, calling him just a ‘messenger’ of the church. The same could not be said for his wife, who said she doesn’t plan on returning to the church ever again, her son nodding in agreement…

“But through it all, Lennon said his faith hasn’t faltered.

“‘I don’t want the church to be put down. I don’t want the Catholic religion to be put down,’ he said. ‘It’s just the way the priest has things running. He’s so strict. He won’t loosen up about things.’”

It is positive that Lennon can parse out what the faith is truly about and the harmful actions of people in the institutional structure, but no young person or family should be subjected to such abusive treatment from a priest.

This use of sacraments in a disciplinary capacity undermines the beauty and depth of these important moments in the life of a Catholic, and a case like this sheds light on why many high school students choose to forgo Confirmation altogether. Hopefully, priests like Fr. LaMoine will come to their senses and minister pastorally instead of ideologically.

Diocesan officials need to intervene in this case and correct LaMoine’s mistake.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

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11 Responses to Minnesota Teen Denied Confirmation Because of Support for Marriage Equality

  1. Leonard Discenza says:

    Oh, this is so wrong so heartbreaking. A different pastoral approach would have spared this family
    But then again the focus is not always on one soul but on towing the corporate line
    God bless this family for standing up for what they believe is right despite the ramifications. As i recall this is exactly what the theology behind the sacrament of confirmation is about- defending Christian values.

  2. mplh89 says:

    Is there a way to send our support to Lennon and his family? Can we put them in touch with a nearby parish that is supportive of equality? It seems by merely raising Lennon’s story up as an example, we are failing in Christian charity by not taking action to help the family in a time of need.

  3. pjnugent says:

    This sort of action has become a true scandal in our church. The “law abiders” have moved so far from the teachings of Jesus that I doubt they can ever get back. And it’s young people and families that are suffering the pain. It’s so sad.

  4. Maryann says:

    This is sad and very disheartening. If the Church is going to be so hard on gays, why isn’t the Catholic Church calling out all “cafeteria Catholics”? How do they not realize the harm and damage they are doing to so many gay children, adults and their families? I’m so tired of it.

  5. rita warren says:

    I am sadden by the approach one parish is taking. They use th phrase cafeteria catholics what about cafeteria priest. God made all of us, why isn’t the Church a Church of all people. It gets harder and harder to love the Church. Do they Love everyone? This is a sad time in the church.

  6. Terri Hemker says:

    This young man and his family will be in our prayers! My son is gay and I am so grateful to them for standing up for the Civil Rights and Human Rights of my son! I know that God will bless them for standing up for the oppressed! There are pastors who have said publicly that they support imprisoning gays, stealing their children, even killing gays because they say that ‘Leviticus says so!” I think these pastors are more perverted than those they are trying to ‘fix’.

  7. Will says:

    If all Catholics who support equal marriage were to leave the church (surely a ‘logical’ consequence of this priest’s actions) then how many Catholics would be left In the church? Probably all the bishops and the senior clergy, of course, but who else?

    I was brought up an English Roman Catholic, from a recusant family that never lost its faith and with several English martyrs on the family tree! Being also a gay man I now live somewhat at arms length from the church but ironically that has given me a better understanding of those brave recusants who stood their ground in the face of authoritarian dictats.

    This brave boy is an example to us all.

  8. […] decision — and it is with this, i.e. that the pastor’s decision was correct, that I (and others) take issue. Despite what Dr. Peters’ and the USCCB say formally about civil marriage, the […]

  9. Julie says:

    I’m glad that the powers-that-be in heaven are not this judgmental.

  10. […] weekend, we reported the story of a Minnesota teenager, Lennon Cihak, who is being denied confirmation because he took a […]

  11. […] teen is denied confirmation for supporting marriage […]

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