Oops, Catholic Church Did It Again

Connor Hakes, a 23-year-old from Indiana, was refused the opportunity to sing at his grandmother’s Catholic funeral. The Pastor, Bob J. Lengerich, of St. Mary Of The Assumption Catholic Church in Decatur, Indiana denied Hakes after seeing a photo on social media of Hakes at a LGBTQ Pride event.  Hakes was refused via a letter from the church that he was not permitted to sing at his beloved grandmother’s service.

“Religion played an important part in my upbringing and is a huge part of my family. I would definitely say I have faith. But, to be completely honest, this entire incident has shaken it a bit,” Hakes told BuzzFeed News.  He was “completely shocked and taken aback” by the letter, as his family has been involved in the church community for many years. Hakes attended the Catholic school associated with the church and sang in the choir.

BuzzFeed News received a statement from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend that says the diocese is now working on fostering “healing and reconciliation” between Pastor Lengerich and the Hakes family. “This is a chance for the Church to show love and appreciation all of its members, regardless of race, age, social class, or sexuality,” Hakes said of the situation. “I hope this allows for priests to have better training in dealing with similar situations.”

Hakes’ friends suggested that he stand up and sing at his grandmother’s funeral in spite of the church’s denial but Hakes disagreed. “The funeral was celebrating my grandma’s life, and I did not want to make a spectacle of the service,” he said. Hakes ended up singing the first verse of “Ave Maria” after the funeral, at his grandmother’s graveside.

See Hakes’ Facebook post and letter from the church here.


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