Outcry After 8-Year-Old Boy With Autism Was Denied First Communion Causes New Jersey Church to Reverse Decision

A celebration of the Rite of Welcome/Acceptance for RCIA Candidates and Catechumen at Saint Aloysius Parish in Jackson, New Jersey. | Facebook/Saint Aloysius Parish Jackson

A day after a New Jersey couple revealed that their 8-year-old son was denied First Communion by the Saint Aloysius Parish in Jackson due to his autism, the church reversed its decision after public outcry.

Jimmy LaCugna complained in a now viral Facebook post that he and his wife, Nicole, were told by the Rev. John Bambrick that their son, Anthony, won’t be able to participate in the religious ceremony because of his disability.

“As most of you know, Anthony is an autistic non-verbal child who is in his sacrament year. Father Bambrick at Saint Aloysius Church in Jackson and the Archdiocese of Trenton came to this position since Anthony is unable to determine right from wrong due to his disability they feel he is not up to the ‘benchmark required to make his communion,’” Jimmy LaCugna wrote.

“This is very hard and upsetting to comprehend when we all are created by God and now our son is being shunned from the Catholic faith due to his inability to communicate. This is something that I hope goes viral and these parties involved get their names called out for this disgraceful and disheartening act against a child who has a disability and wouldn’t even be able to create a sin because he is one of the sweetest and innocent little boy someone would ever meet,” he wrote in a post that has since been shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook.

Nicole LaCugna told News 12 New Jersey that she thinks the decision by the church is unbiblical because: “Nowhere in the Bible does it ever show discrimination against anybody.”

She also told the Asbury Park Press that even though Anthony is diagnosed with a serious form of autism, is 100% nonverbal with severe apraxiaas, he is happy and active as any boy, and attends an inclusion class at a regular public school.

“He does well for his abilities, his process is a slow process and he does what he is able to do,” she said.

She told the publication that when Anthony reached first grade in the fall of 2018, she wanted to start him on the religious education track toward First Holy Communion but did not believe he could attend regular classes. The parish then gave her permission to homeschool him for religious studies.

She also received permission in September to continue with his homeschooling plan and expected he would receive his First Holy Communion along with other second graders in April.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair