Lennon Cihak, 17, was reportedly denied confirmation after the Rev. Gary LaMoine of Assumption Church in Barnesville, Minnesota, saw that the boy had placed a pro-same sex marriage post on Facebook. Considering that the Catholic Church opposes gay unions, the teen's family claims that the house of worship punished Lennon for embracing ideas that run contrary to church theology.
In the wake of the alleged decision, the teen's family is speaking out.
"You kind of know the Catholic beliefs, but I never thought they would deny somebody confirmation because you weren’t 100 percent," Shana Cihak, the boy's mother, told The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. "I guess that’s what shocks me."
On his Facebook page, Lennon posted an image of a political sign. Originally, the poster read, "Vote Yes: Marriage, One Man, One Woman," however the message was altered to read "Vote No!," with the words "Equal Rights" added to it with a marker.
The sign, in its original form, was intended to support the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, which would have refined the state's constitution to define marriage between a man and woman (the alterations to the sign, though, clearly showed support for gay unions). The provision failed to pass earlier this month.
Lennon Cihak (Photo Credit: Dave Wallis/The Forum)
According to Shana, in a one-on-one meeting, Rev. LaMoine confirmed that the image was the reason for the church's refusal to confirm Lennon. In a subsequent interview, she noted that she thinks it's unfair that her son was singled out. Additionally, she told The Forum that other children in the same confirmation class "liked" the status, but that they were still allowed to be confirmed.
While Lennon's father, Doug, also disagreed with the priest's actions, he dubbed him a "messenger" of the church who is sticking by his convictions. As for Shana and her son, they do not plan on returning to the house of worship again. Considering their deep connection to the parish (Shana was confirmed at Assumption Church as well), this is a noteworthy development.
Despite the angst the family has felt over the incident, Lennon does not want to see anti-Catholic backlash run rampant.
"I don’t want the church to be put down. I don’t want the Catholic religion to be put down," he explained. "It’s just the way the priest has things running. He’s so strict. He won’t loosen up about things."
As for the Rev. LaMoine, the priest told The Associated Press that the family's story isn't entirely accurate. While he declined to give details, the faith leader said that it was an "internal and pastoral" matter and that Lennon was not denied confirmation as stated by the family.
"Some people chose to run out into the public and put it out in the media," he said, noting that he is speaking with the Catholic Diocese of Crookston about the incident.
(H/T: The Forum)