There was a funeral this week in the catholic church in Lewistown, MT, and the deceased’s family arranged to have a retired priest (and a favorite of the deceased) perform the service. The family also put together a small choir with singers of their choice. Shortly before the funeral, the head of the parish confronted one of the singers as she was entering the church, and told her that she may not come in, may not participate in the choir. Why? Because several years ago, when the church excommunicated two members for being gay, she had objected to it.
Next, the retired priest showed up to officiate the service, as requested by the family who had known him many years. Upon entering the church he learned that the head of the parish had barred the would-be singer from the taking part in the service. The retired priest objected strongly to this, and said he would not countenance such a decision. The head priest then told him, too, that he was not welcome, and evicted him from the premises, and then told the family that he himself would conduct the service.
So the family (and the deceased 92 year old woman) was stuck with having the old bigot preside over the funeral, minus one of the singers (an old friend). A commotion ensued, with the family threatening to cancel the service. By this time the retired priest had already been sent away, and so a deal was struck whereby a third priest, who was on hand, led the funeral service. The funeral was salvaged. Then the head priest gave a sermon the following Sunday, which included a partial apology. He admitted he shouldn’t have made a scene, but he defended his policy.
For anyone who saw the recent movie Spotlight, you might have noticed in the closing titles that the The Diocese of Montana was one of the top offending institutions in the child molestation epidemic. The number of cases they settled was among the highest in the nation. They have made strides in recovering from the dark history, but they should be certain that men such as Samuel Spiering, the head of the parish who behaved so outrageously, will do nothing other than retard the progress. They should remove this man immediately from active duty, and he should be heard from no more.