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A Gay Man Was Not Allowed To Sing At His Grandmother's Catholic Funeral Because Of His Sexuality

“Anytime someone sins and then acts in the name of God, it causes scandal."

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Connor Hakes, a 23-year-old from Indiana, was not permitted to sing at his grandmother's funeral after the pastor presiding over the service saw a photo of Hakes attending a gay Pride rally.

Pastor Bob J. Lengerich of St. Mary Of The Assumption Catholic Church sent Hakes a letter over one page in length explaining that he would not be permitted to sing, as Hakes had originally planned, at his grandmother's service.

To honor his late grandmother, Carolyn, Hakes had planned to sing Franz schubert's "Ave Maria". He ultimately sang the first stanza of the piece at his grandmother's gravesite, after the funeral.

"I can no longer sing at my Grandma's funeral, because I attended a gay pride rally and a picture was posted publicly (years ago)," Hakes, who is gay, said in his Facebook post. The post included two photographs of Pastor Lengerich's letter.

Facebook: conhakes

"Anytime someone sins and then acts in the name of God, it causes scandal. This is the main reason why you cannot (at this time) offer your gifts in service at St. Mary's," the letter states.

"The Catholic Church upholds the dignity of those with same-sex attraction. At the same time, it does not permit same-sex relationships or openly advocating for them because it causes scandal."

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 generations. Hakes himself has participated in the church since he was a child.

http://Unknownstmarysdecatur.org

"I attended the school that is right next door, and when I was old enough, I started to lead singing in the church. I did this for 4 years, until I went off to study Voice Performance at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music," Hakes said.

"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 has not been in contact with Pastor Lengerich, who has not responded to BuzzFeed News' request for comment, since the funeral. But according to Hakes, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Pastor Lengerich’s supervisor, met with his parents to personally apologize for the situation. A representative for the Diocese reached out to Hakes to apologize as well.

"I am planning to have a private meeting with the Bishop soon," added Hakes.

A statement from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend provided to BuzzFeed News stated that the diocese is now working on fostering "healing and reconciliation" between Lengerich and the Hakes family.

“Having become aware of the painful situation at Saint Mary’s Parish in Decatur, the diocese is working on fostering healing and reconciliation between the pastor and the Hakes family. We encourage all to move forward with genuine Christian love and mercy and with respect and prayer for one another.”

Several of Hakes' friends urged him to stand and sing at his grandmother's funeral, which was held on the morning of November 26, despite the pastor's letter. Hakes decided against it. "The funeral was celebrating my grandma's life, and I did not want to make a spectacle of the service," he said.

Facebook: conhakes

The original Facebook post has been shared over 1,000 times, with many people leaving personal comments of encouragement.

"The support and genuine care people have expressed has been overwhelming," Hakes said. "When issues like these occur, they must be talked about and shared."

"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 incident. "I hope this allows for priests to have better training in dealing with similar situations."

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