Priest cites ‘gay lifestyle’ in denying man’s request to sing at grandmother’s funeral


An Indiana man has filed a complaint against his family’s parish church, which he said denied him the chance to sing at his grandmother’s funeral after the priest learned that he had attended a gay pride rally.

Connor Hakes of Decatur told WANE in Wayne, Indiana, that he and his relatives are longtime members of St. Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church, where his grandmother’s funeral was planned earlier this month. Hakes said he contacted the church after her death to get permission to sing in tribute to her.

The Rev. Bob J. Lengerich denied the request, citing concerns that Hakes was living a life that “could scandalize (the) congregation and neighbors” attending the funeral. Hakes said that Lengerich based his decision on a photo from a gay pride rally last year in which a friend tagged him on Facebook.

“This priest had judged me and really formed an opinion about me without ever communicating with me,” Hakes told the news station.

>> Read more trending stories

Hakes said that he has sung many times in the past for the church’s congregation and that Lengerich never approached him to find out if he was participating in a “gay lifestyle.”

Hakes posted to his Facebook page a Nov. 23 letter from Lengerich in which the priest said that the Catholic Church forbids those who “openly defy tenants (sic) of (the) faith” to serve in positions that make them public representatives of the church. That includes divorced or remarried congregants who have not had their terminated marriage annulled, people who openly support abortion rights and those “openly participating in unchaste same-sex relationships.”

Because Hakes’ grandmother was so well-loved, Lengerich wrote, the funeral would not be a private affair but one involving the community. The priest said that Hakes was welcome to honor his grandmother with a song, but only “outside of the Mass and outside of the church.”

Because a funeral Mass begins when the casket is closed after the wake and doesn’t end until the final blessing at the gravesite, however, “there (would be) no opportunity within the Church to offer a solo during” the funeral, Lengerich wrote.

Hakes told WANE that he had always felt loved and welcomed in his home parish, but now, he feels “very ostracized.” He and his family have filed a formal complaint with the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

St. Mary’s issued a statement regarding the situation: “Having become aware of the painful situation at Saint Mary’s Parish in Decatur, the diocese is working on fostering healing and reconciliation between the pastor and the Hakes family. We encourage all to move forward with genuine Christian love and mercy and with respect and prayer for one another.”

In posting the letter on Facebook last week, Hakes wrote that both of his deceased grandparents would be “disgusted” by their parish.

“Their compassion and empathy was abundant, no matter who you were,” Hakes wrote. “They saw beyond race, religion, sexuality and social class. They loved everyone. That is what it means to be a Christian. That is what it means to be Catholic.

In a follow-up post, Hakes thanked people for the love, support and prayers since his story gained traction.

“May we pray for the softening of hearts and the healing of those hurt,” he wrote


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

NFL championship games 2018: What time, what channel, odds for Jags vs. Patriots and Vikings vs. Eagles
NFL championship games 2018: What time, what channel, odds for Jags vs. Patriots and Vikings vs. Eagles

We are one day out from “Championship Sunday,” where the teams who will play in the Super Bowl will be determined. The Minnesota Vikings will take on the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC Championship, while the New England Patriots play the Jacksonville Jaguars for the AFC title. If the Vikings win, they will be the first team to ever play...
Mar-a-Lago fundraiser to go on as scheduled; Trump stays in D.C.
Mar-a-Lago fundraiser to go on as scheduled; Trump stays in D.C.

President Donald Trump will not attend a $100,000-per-couple political fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach tonight because of the federal government shutdown. “There is no plan to go to Florida while there is a shutdown,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told The Palm Beach Post. The fundraiser will...
Hundreds of protesters gather in Palm Beach for president’s one-year in office
Hundreds of protesters gather in Palm Beach for president’s one-year in office

Update 2:00 p.m.: President Trump posted a tweet about today being “a perfect day for all Women to March” to celebrate lowest female unemployment in 18 years.  Women’s marches are happening this weekend in cities across the country in protest of Trump’s election.  <div></div><br><...
Congress at work on a Saturday as lawmakers try to end shutdown quickly
Congress at work on a Saturday as lawmakers try to end shutdown quickly

Hours after funding lapsed for the federal government at midnight, lawmakers in both parties returned for an unusual Saturday session of the House and Senate, as both parties quickly launched themselves into finger pointing over who is to blame for the first government shutdown since 2013, with few signs that a deal was near...
Drake makes surprise appearance at Memphis nightclub
Drake makes surprise appearance at Memphis nightclub

He may have started from the bottom, but rapper Drake is making headlines after doing one dance that started in the Bluff City. According to party promoter Curtis Givens, the Grammy winner called him wanting to have a private party at In LOVE Memphis, a popular nightclub. Givens said it was a last minute call, but he and his business partner were up...
More Stories