Priest Father Phil Henning of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Floresville, Texas denied an eight year old boy, Kevin Castro, with cerebral palsy of partaking in his first communion. Henning has been accused by the boy’s family for discrimination after he refused to carry out the communion ritual.
In place of the communion, the priest suggested Kevin receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. Kevin’s grandmother was very upset by this and said, “That anointing they give you before death. That was very offensive.”
The priest says due to Kevin’s cerebral palsy and having a mind capacity of someone who is 6 months in age, communion cannot be initiated because he is not able to understand the meaning of receiving the body of Christ. The Catholic doctrine does say that for a person to receive the Holy Communion, they must have sufficient knowledge of Christ, however the doctrine does not state exactly what is technically accepted as sufficient.
The rite of passage is a very important step towards confirmation, however the decision of whether or not to allow someone to partake in the Holy Communion is up to the priest. Decon Pat Rodgers says, ” It’s never our desire, hope or wish to withhold a sacrament from someone who wants or needs it.”
After months of preparing for Kevin’s communion, his family is quite upset. His grandmother says, “I hurt for my grandson and my family.”