The news was on fire this morning about a DC priest who purportedly refused to give Last Rights to a gay heart-attack patient at the Washington Hospital Center.
Oh boy, here we go again! This man condemns the priest but we only have his side of the story.
I suspect there is a lot more to the story than what we are hearing. A priest was requested and Father Brian Coelho came to the bedside of the patient, Ronald Plishka. The priest followed the ritual by offering the Sacrament of Penance prior to the Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion. If a patient is unconscious, the priest will often presume contrition and a desire for the sacraments, giving absolution even without auricular confession. In this case, the patient was alert and responsive. The patient seemed to want to make small talk and remarked about how as a homosexual person he was so happy that the Pope was accepting of gay people. But he next asked if this admission bothered the priest, almost as if he were baiting him. The priest said it did not but offered to pray with him. Nothing more was said about Extreme Unction and Viaticum. While left unsaid in the article, this intimates that this dialogue took place as part of a Confession.
Because the disagreement probably happened during Confession, the priest is silenced by the seal and cannot share his side of the story. Indeed, he would face automatic excommunication if he says anything… something I hope that Church authorities appreciate. Even they cannot question the priest.
Instead of a civil conversation, the patient rejects the offer of prayer and tells the priest “to get the [deleted] out of here!” That in itself probably demonstrates an improper disposition for God’s mercy. Then the doctors came in to calm him down.
We should pray for all the parties involved.
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