Note: I am aware that the media did not report the parish’s side of the account and that the parents did not request an exception be made to the dress code before purchasing the suit. I am also aware they were offered private reception of Communion for the child, and declined. I do not think on the day, that a modest and formal outfit is justification for denying an elligible and willing child Communion, even if her parents may have been in error or dishonest. The sins of our father are not ours, and child should not be refused the Lord because of his or her parents. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”
When reflecting on the denial of First Communion to a child who desired to receive and who was elligible to receive whilst being outside of the dress code, we must consider what Sacraments are and who can receive them. Sacraments are defined as, “a visible sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace.” The Church considers that Sacraments a gift grace from God to those who wish to receive it, but they are sometimes denied to people who are not properly disposed or to those who are in abject and/or grievous public sin. I myself, have had a priest delay/refuse absolution during confession until such a time when I could make a change that demonstrated I was truly pentitent. A couple can be refused the Sacrament of marriage if one party is already married. There is a premise for the priest or the parish to deny someone/people a Sacrament, but that denial must be weighed against the belief Catholicism holds, that all people whether they know it or not, need the Sacraments and most especially the Eucharist, and that they were given to us by Christ so that everyone might have life abundantly.
Considering the gravity and base need for Communion according to Catholic belief, nearly the only reason someone should be denied is if they are clearly eating or chewing gum in violation of Church law or if the priest is aware of some abject and/or grievous public sin. Anything else is between that person and the Lord. We do not have the right to decide who can and cannot have Jesus based upon arbitrary norms. People often abstain from Communion of their own accord if they do not feel rightly disposed. This calls into question the suit and whether it is sufficient ground to deny a child reception of Christ. Is a woman in a suit in violation of an arbitray and subjective dress code especially when the child who wishes to receive may not have known, such a grievous and immoral act that it justifies the denial of the Sacrament to the child, something Christ means to give to all? I feel quite safe assuming all parties who would be in attendance were aware that the girl known as “Cady” is in possession of two legs. This could be the only epiphany gained from a suit on a girl instead of a dress. Had she shown up in sweats or something informal (disrespecting the occasion), I might understand the denial of Communion with Jesus, the same man who stood over the Magdalene and protected her from stoning, the same man who ate with the lowest of the low because meeting people where they are is part of the faith.
Fashion is subjective and not an objective truth. It changes across time, culture, and location. Given this truth, and the fact that wearing pants would not present an objective obstacle to reception, as I have received communion in pants myself many a time, it would seem this is more of an issue of refusing the Sacrament based not on the child’s disposition to receive, nor on her elligiblity to receive, but based upon a priest’s own arbitrary opinion and her parent’s actions, for which she cannot reasonably be held accountable. He chose to deny a soul reception of the Lord because he did not like what she was wearing. Does this sound like Christ? It reminds me much more of the Pharisees than the Lord. I do wonder if he considered that Jesus most probably wore what would largely be seen as a dress, in modern times. *GASP* *clutch pearls*
I understand the argument that there was a dress code, but this is not a country club. The dress code has no canonical status and is suggestive. This is the church of Jesus Christ and He did not establish it for some elite few. You cannot deny someone Communion because they are different or because the look differently.
In a world that is so hurting and so in need of Christ, we must get Him to everyone who seeks Him so long as they are rightly disposed and not in violation of any Church law. Women wearing pants is not a problem, not a sin (contrary to the opinion of many who no doubt refuse to acknowledge Jesus likely wore a dress), nor is it against Church law. One has to wonder if the priest or other office staff has considered the gravity of this denial, and if they can truly envision our Lord denying this little girl as well.
I can only leave with with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Let the children come to me.”