A heart attack victim says a Roman Catholic priest working as a chaplain at a Washington D.C. hospital refused to give him last rites and communion after the patient told him he’s gay.
The Washington Blade reports that D.C. resident Ronald Plishka, 63, a retired travel agent and lifelong Catholic, said he asked to see a priest on Feb. 7, one day after he was admitted by ambulance to the hospital emergency room for a heart attack. He said that at the time he wasn’t sure he would survive.
Father Brian Coelho from the Department of Spiritual Care was the priest who was assigned to counsel Plishka. He took the Plishka’s final confessions before proceeding with last rites, which the church now calls the sacrament of anointing of the sick.
“We started talking and I told him I was so happy with this new Pope because of his comments about the gays and his accepting the gays,” Plishka said. “And I mentioned that I was gay. I said it and then I asked him does that bother you? And he said, ‘Oh, no, that does not bother me. But then he would not proceed with administering the last rites or communion. He couldn’t do it.”
Plishka said Coelho gave no reason for not giving him the sacraments he requested but offered instead to pray with him.
Both Coelho and the Archdiocese of Washington have not yet commented on the matter.