A Michigan district court judge was asked by her Catholic priest to not partake in the sacrament of Holy Communion because of the fact that she is married to a woman.
Michigan’s 63rd District Court Chief Judge, Sara Smolenski, told CNN that the priest at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Grand Rapids called and asked her to “not come to communion” because of her same sex marriage.
“This is not about me against the priest, and it’s not really me against the church,” said the 62-year-old Smolenski, telling CNN that the decision “feels like selective discrimination.”
“Why choose gay people, and why now?” she asked.
Smolenski, who was baptized at the church, claimed that St. Stephen’s priest Scott Nolan called her on November 23 to tell her it was good to see her in church, but “‘because you and Linda are married in the state of Michigan, I’d like you to respect the church and not come to communion.'”
Smolenski was elected as a judge in 1990 and became chief judge in 1996. She married longtime partner Linda Burpee in March 2016 after the practice became legal, CNN reported.
Individual Catholic priests have the authority to deny communion on a case-by-case basis. Others, including former Vice President Joe Biden, have been denied the sacrament based on their support for abortion.
“Some of that criteria are just around what’s happening in that person’s life and what do they believe and what are they doing and what are they not doing,” Nolan told a CNN affiliate, adding that denial of Holy Communion causes “a great sadness in my own life as a priest,” but that he must adhere to Catholic teaching. (RELATED: ‘My Personal Life’: Joe Biden Wouldn’t Address Being Refused Communion Over Abortion Stance)
The Diocese of Grand Rapids supported the priest’s decision, saying in a statement: “Those who approach the Body and Blood of Christ may not wound that same Body by creating scandalous distinctions and divisions among its members.”
“No community of faith can sustain the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members,” the statement continued. “This is especially so on matters as central to Catholic life as marriage, which the Church has always held, and continues to hold, as a sacred covenant between one man and one woman.”