BARNESVILLE, Minn. — A Catholic priest in Minnesota has denied Confirmation to a 17-year-old student after seeing a picture on his Facebook page last month which the teen in which he expressed opposition to the state’s failed anti-gay marriage amendment.
Lennon Cihak was pictured in front an altered campaign sign which original read “Vote Yes” on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment — which would have changed the state’s constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Lennon had scribbled out the “yes” and replaced it with “NO!”
Lennon’s monther, Shana Cihak, said she was called by Rev. Gary LaMoine of the Assumption Church soon after the photo was discovered, and was told her son would not be allowed to complete his Confirmation.
Shana Cihak said Lennon has gone to church every week and volunteered around the community in preparation for his Confirmation this year.
“You kind of know the Catholic beliefs, but I never thought they would deny somebody Confirmation because you weren’t 100 percent. I guess that’s what shocks me,” she said.
Since the family has gone public with their story, the church has prohibited the family from participating in Communion, said Doug Cihak, Lennon’s father.
Doug Cihak said he’s worried as to how far the sanctions will go, expressing concern about being able to be buried alongside his parents.
In a letter to parishoners made public on Friday, LaMoine apologized in the letter for the actions of the Cihak family in discussing the story with the media.
“I apologize to the parish for the actions of this family,” LaMoine wrote. “I have personally spent much time talking to them face to face about their unwillingness to accept the teaching of the Church on marriage but to no avail.”
Shana Cihak said that Bishop Michael Hoeppner of the Diocese of Crookston told her that if her son went before the church and retracted his support for marriage equality, then he could be confirmed.
Confirmation is one of the seven Catholic sacraments, and is regarded as the perfection of Baptism.
An “I support Lennon Cihak” Facebook group is here.