An openly gay judge in Michigan was denied Holy Communion at the Catholic church she has attended for decades because, the church claimed, her marriage contradicts church teachings.
Judge Sara Smolenski, the 62-year-old chief of Michigan’s 63rd District Court, told CNN that she received a call Nov. 23 from Father Scott Nolan of St. Stephen Church asking her not to attend communion.
Smolenski said the priest at the Grand Rapids, Mich., church cited her marriage with her longtime partner, whom she wed about three years ago, for the denial of communion. The judge said she was baptized at the church and attended school there in her youth.
“In 62 years, this is the first time I’ve ever been denied,” Smolenski told Michigan Live.
Nolan did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily News on Saturday night. But the 33-year-old priest told WOOD-TV that “it might look like it is discriminatory or particular or specific or targeted, but I disagree.” He said he’s simply following church teachings.
The Diocese of Grand Rapids issued a statement supporting the decision.
“No community of faith can sustain the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members,” the diocese said in the statement. “This is especially so on matters as central to Catholic life as marriage, which the Church has always held, and continues to hold, as a sacred covenant between one man and one woman.”
Smolenski said she received communion from Nolan on Nov. 17 and was confused by the timing of the decision and by the statement from the Diocese of Grand Rapids.
“I was raised in that church,” Smolenski told Michigan Live. “It created who I am. We were taught ‘love everyone.'”
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