Monday, December 17, 2018


if what Church Militant is reporting about the questional pastoral sensitivities of a priest preaching a homily at a Requiem for a suicide victim is correct, I am puzzled as to the reason why this priest is being treated the way he is by both Church and family.

What am I missing here? Press title below picture for full article.

Detroit Priest Muzzled for Homily on Suicide

Fr. Don LaCuesta barred from preaching at funerals 'for foreseeable future'

An excerpt of the homily in question:

In reinforcing Church teaching on suicide, Fr. LaCuesta did emphasize God's mercy:
Can God forgive and heal this? Yes, God CAN forgive even the taking of one's own life. ... Although God doesn't dangle his mercy like a carrot, waiting for us to ask for it in order to receive it, we do have to believe in our hearts, express with our words, and show in our actions that it is always there. God wants nothing but our salvation but he will never force himself on us, he will not save us without us. That's how much he loves us. Because of the all-embracing sacrifice of Christ on the cross God can have mercy on any sin. Yes, because of his mercy, God can forgive suicide and heal what has been broken.
Because God is merciful he makes allowance for the spiritual, mental, and emotional despair that leads to suicide. God is able to read the heart, to know the whole truth of a person's life, and thereby to pass sentence with mercy. God knows something we must discipline ourselves to do in these moments — he knows not to judge a person's entire life on the basis of the worst and last choice the person made. God can look at the totality of a human being's life and celebrate all the good that came from it, even while taking seriously the tragic choice that ended everything. And then he shows his mercy and love in ways beyond our limited understanding. 


Anonymous said...

The homily is available.

He is being treated this way for being incredibly insensitive, for ignoring the family's legitimate wishes, and for being a total jerk.

Anonymous said...

Here is the complete homily:

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Not having the Scripture passages from the funeral liturgy makes it somewhat difficult to assess the homily.

However, based on the text we have, the line I find most troubling is, "Having said that, I think we must not call what is bad, good, what is wrong, right."

This was entirely unnecessarily. Although the priest goes on to say, almost, that we cannot know the mind and heart of the person who commits suicide, this line makes a presupposition that could only have caused needless grief and suffering among the family members and friends of the dead man.

If, as he says, we already know the truth - that taking one's own life is against God who made us and everyone who loves us - then why restate it? In this he clearly intimates that the deceased's action were done to hurt his family.

I can understand why he will be expected to revisit his approach to homilies.

TJM said...


You could just as easily say that the priest is being treated this way because the bishop has no Faith and because the bishop is being a jerk. Should the priest have said "he was in the running for canonization, so we cannot understand why this happened?" just like parents of criminals who suggest their little dear was on his way to choir practice when he robbed the bank? This situation illustrates why it might be best to have no homily at funerals and return the funeral Mass to its true purpose, to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased and forget the celebration of life nonsense. Another option would be for priests to refuse to celebrate a funeral Mass in cases of suicide.

Henry said...

Perhaps the solution is to bar not only this priest, but every priest, from interrupting funeral Masses for sermons? When was the last time you heard a sermon, at any Mass, that actually contributed to the efficacy of the Holy Sacrifice in offering propitiation for the sins of men?

Henry said...

As for the substance of Fr. LaCuesta's sermon, was he not sensitively offering hope and consolation to the family by emphasizing God's mercy? That God can forgive even the "unforgivable sin" of suicide--whereas the family might have been worried that their son by suicide had unalterably consigned his soul to the everlasting fire of Hell.

Anonymous said...

Suicide is not the "unforgiveable sin."

Despair is - the belief that one is utterly beyond the reach of God's saving grace.

Henry said...

Anon - Suicide is not the "unforgiveable sin."

True. That's why I put it within quotation marks. Catholics--that is, those who still believe in sin--generally assume that the sin of suicide is unforgivable, because the person presumably has no opportunity for contrition and repentance.

However, as the priest in question sensitively emphasized, God's mercy encompasses even these situations.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think all of this is a tempest in a tea pot and does not deserve national attention from either the secular or religious press

This boy's parents are devastated and much be feeling guilt about the whole mess. They wanted relief from that guilt and depression with such a profound loss by asking the priest to focus on the positive.

The priest attempted to do that but could have used a bit more finesse given the raw nerves and grief these parents are experiencing.

But for them to make a federal case out of this is nonsense and they need to be told that and worse yet, to seek the priest's laicizaiton? Really?

When you treat priests as hired hands and the Church as a department store, this is what you get.

It sounds like the parents told them what they wanted and the priest gave them what he felt called to do. It sounds like control issues on the part of both maybe?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"This boy's parents are devastated and much be feeling guilt about the whole mess."

Yes, and telling them that their son did what he did in order to hurt them is incredibly insensitive. It's not a matter of finesse. It's a matter of pastoring people in ways that do not harm them.

I'm sure if you asked them they would not agree that the death of their son and the words of the priest are "nonsense."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

This boy hurt and devastated everyone who love him by committing suicide. What is it with denial of the reality of this tragedy on so many levels and the homily lancing the puss that is hidden deep in the psyche and can't admit the obvious?

In addition, this is what the mother said: “He basically called our son a sinner in front of everyone,” Linda Hullibarger, Maison’s mom, told CNN. “We had no idea that he was going to do this. … We’ve been lifelong members of the church.”

I will have to read the full homily, so I don't know how the priest phrased it, but I do know that the texts and almost all of them of the Funeral Mass refer to the deceased as a sinner by asking for God's forgiveness of the faithful departed.

Are they insulted by this too?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

This is the full homily:

It seems to me that the priest is articulating how many people feel when a suicide happens. There is no way to sugar coat this and speaking aloud what so many deep down feel, if only they were not in denial about it, is a good thing for those able to understand the point.

The priest then goes on to speak about God and forgiveness but not about the boy since homilies are not eulogies nor celebrations of life remarks.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"This boy hurt and devastated everyone who love him by committing suicide."

Everyone, most especially his family, knew this. The priest, however, is imputing motive - a motive he cannot know.

Telling them that their son hurt God and them in the funeral homily is nothing more than rubbing salt into the most painful wound that I imagine a parent can have to endure

TJM said...

The best way to shut down this discussion is to borrow from the left's playbook. Since the priest is Hispanic it is racist to attack him.