"Bible and Lord's Cup and Bread" by John Snyder / CC BY-SA 3.0

Church denied 8-year-old boy First Communion because he’s autistic, New Jersey family says

Feb 28, 2020

By Minyvonne Burke

A New Jersey couple said their 8-year-old son is being denied the chance to receive First Communion by their church because he is autistic.

Jimmy LaCugna said in a Facebook post that he and his wife were informed Tuesday by the Rev. John Bambrick at Saint Aloysius Church that their son Anthony won’t be able to participate in the religious ceremony because he feels the boy is “unable to determine right from wrong due to his disability.”

LaCugna said they were told that Anthony, who is nonverbal, is not at the “benchmark required to make his communion.”

“This is very hard and upsetting to comprehend when we all are created by God and now our son is being shunned from the Catholic faith due to his inability to communicate,” LaCugna wrote, adding that his son “wouldn’t even be able to create a sin because he is one of the sweetest and innocent little boy someone would ever meet.”

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2 comments on “Church denied 8-year-old boy First Communion because he’s autistic, New Jersey family says

  • Did the priest follow a protocol for determining whether someone meets the “benchmark required”, or is this just his own god-complex?

    Is there a list of conditions/afflictions that excludes people? Must be a long one…..


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    Cairsley says:

    It does not seem to me to be a matter of concern to freethinkers and atheists whether an autistic child of Catholic parents should receive its first communion in the Catholic Church. The church in question has its requirements for admitting someone to the sacraments of confession and communion, which can indeed become deeply significant events in the life of one who believes in the Catholic sacramental dispensation of divine grace. The irreligious (and even some Protestants), however, would be hard-pressed to discover any evidence that would justify attributing to this dispensation any objective benefit or real significance. In the case mentioned in the NBC News article, the child’s autism is such that it cannot speak, nor does the article make clear to what extent the child can understand anything said or gestured or shown to it. The Catholic Church’s policy on reception of communion has for centuries required that communicants have the use of reason, being able to know right from wrong and to understand the instruction given on the significance and purpose of the sacraments of confession and communion. In the context of Catholic theology, this case brings up some interesting possible lines of argument; but, such considerations notwithstanding, I would suggest that, if the decision to deny the child access to communion at this stage is maintained, the child’s autism will have shielded it, at least for the time being, from deeper involvement in an emotionally ensnaring superstition.


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