Monday, March 06, 2006

Bishop Bars Autistic Boy From Receiving Communion

See this article by that title, which begins:

A 10-year-old autistic boy has been barred from taking communion by the Bishop of the Phoenix Catholic Diocese because he can't actually swallow.

Matthew Moran of Lake Havasu City has been taking the church's most meaningful sacrament for three years, but in a Feb. 12 letter, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said the boy cannot accept communion until he can "actually receive the Eucharist, actually take and eat."

Matthew can't swallow foods with certain textures, so he places the wafer, called the host, in his mouth. Then his father, Nick Moran, removes it and eats it himself.

The bishop's letter has caused anger, anxiety and frustration in his home, Moran said.

"We are out of our minds over this," said Moran. He and his wife, Dr. Jean Weaver, have two other children. He said his son "screamed and cried" when he learned he could not take communion at Mass.

Phoenix Diocese officials said Matthew has not actually been barred from receiving communion, only that the bishop is "not able to approve the present practice." Olmsted's letter offered various alternative hosts for Matthew to try, educational material and other recommendations for the parents.

"Matthew deserves to be able to take the Eucharist fully and completely," said Isabella Rice of the diocese Office on Disabilities and Pastoral Care. "As long as he is unable to do so, we will keep working with him."

That's not enough for Moran, who said his son has moderately severe autism, a neurological disorder that manifests itself in a variety of ways.


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