In last Friday’s edition of the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead*, reporter Erik Burgess advanced the story of Lennon Cihak, the Barnesville MN teenager denied the sacrament of confirmation by his pastor, Fr. Gary LaMoine of Assumption Parish, for Cihak’s public support of same-sex civil marriage. Burgess reported, among other things, that:
- a classmate of Cihak’s also was denied confirmation, and for the same reason;
- in an open letter to the parish, Fr. LaMoine maintained that Cihak voluntarily chose not to seek confirmation; however,
- Fr. LaMoine told a reporter that he would not have confirmed Cihak anyway;
- Fr. LaMoine apparently became aware of the issue because “My secretary Googled his name“; and,
- both Bishop Hoeppner and diocesan spokesman Msgr. David Baumgartner remained unavailable for comment.
Here at dotCommonweal we’ve had a lively and far-ranging conversation about this situation (see here and here) and what it says (or doesn’t say) about the wider Church. In addition to reading those threads (thanks to all the commenters!), I took some time over the weekend to check out Lennon Cihak’s Tumbler and Twitter feeds. It helped disabuse me of an overly simplified notion of “parallel churches”—if only because I’m not sure which church would have room for a music-making, gay-marriage-endorsing, chocolate-milk-drinking, abortion-opposing, Romney-supporting, Obamacare-hating, part-time grocery-store worker with an (appropriately) adolescent sense of humor, who roots for his high school’s football team and loves his grandma. (I’m also not sure whether he’d be interested in joining either of those “parallel churches”.)
All of which is to say that Lennon Cihak reminds me of so many 17 year olds: fearfully and wonderfully made, bursting with surprises and contradictions, full to the brim with possibilities. He also reminds me that one of the things I’ve always loved about the Catholic Church is the way it’s a church for people who otherwise have nothing in common—other than their love of God and the nourishment they find in the sacraments.
*Thanks to John Hayes for linking to this article in one of the threads, and to Eric Buygis for his post on this topic.