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Dear Jennifer Richardson:

We are sorry that your family has decided to seek another church, but we understand. It is difficult if not impossible, for us to explain how church leaders can be so insistent on a rule that would make it difficult for someone with your illness to join the Catholic family around the Lord’s Table.

You’ll learn as you get older that the Christian scriptures are loaded with instances of Jesus getting annoyed and angry with those in his culture who taught that the only way to God was to keep every law as strictly as possible.

It is sad to see that, in some ways, we have returned to that view of how to be holy.

Our ancestors in the faith, the early Christians we so admire, changed a lot of the rules of their original faith to make room for other people. They pretty much did away with long lists of rules about what people could or could not eat.

Maybe church leaders in Boston are stuck, saying what they have to say because their bosses these days are strict about obeying rules.

We’ll pray for you as you take up a new path and hope you’ll pray for us. Maybe someday we’ll find a way to ease up on this rule so that you and others aren’t made to suffer or stand out or feel forced to leave.


The editors

National Catholic Reporter, February 9, 2001