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US: Church prohibits same-sex couple from receiving communion

John DeLamar September 19, 2014

A same-sex couple was recently told by their Lewiston, Montana Catholic Church that they would no longer be able to receive communion due to their same-sex marriage held over a year ago.

Paul Huff, 66, and Tom Wojtowick, 73, were told by Reverend Samuel Spiering that in addition to not receiving communion, the couple would also no longer be able to sing in the church choir.

The couple, who has been together for more than 30 years, was married in Seattle, Washington in May 2013 in order to make financial and medical decisions for each other.

In August the couple agreed to write a restoration statement, a document asserting their belief and adherence to Catholic doctrine and attested to their belief that a marriage was between one man and one woman in accordance to church doctrine.

Wojtowick wrote: “It was not our intent to challenge that [definition], but to have the rights of civic protections in our old age.”

When Huff and Wojtowick met with Spiering, the priest told them their statement would also need to include a timeline for when they would stop living together and get divorced.

The couple has asked Bishop Michael Warfel of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings to decide on the issue, and are expecting to hear Saturday.

Warfel said he knows the couple to be good people, and that the prohibitions are not meant to discriminate against homosexuals.

He said: “This is not animus against someone who happens to be homosexual; this issue is the same-sex marriage.”

Spiering’s decision has created a divide among the congregation, cutting attendance to St Leo the Great Catholic Church.

More: Americas, archdiocese of great falls-billings, Catholic Church, Communion, gay couple, lewiston, michael warfel, montana, paul huff, same sex marriage, samuel spiering, seattle, st leo the great catholic church, tom wojtowick, US, Washington

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