The church issued a statement post all the backlash, but Jimmy LaCugna, the boy's father clarified that the statement doesn't make any promises regarding their son.
A Catholic church in New Jersey has received severe backlash for allegedly denying 8-year-old boy First Communion on the grounds that his autism makes him "unable to determine right from wrong," reports Daily Mail. The Saint Aloysius Parish in Jackson Township told Anthony LaCugna's parents that since he's autistic and non-verbal, he could not participate in the religious milestone. They've since singled out the Reverend John Bambrick as the church official who made the controversial decision. "I just want my son to be treated like everybody else," his mother Natalie LaCugna said, "Regardless if it's through church, through school, society. He needs the same rights that we all have," according to ABC 7.
BREAKING NEWS: New Jersey Catholic church lambasted for denying autistic boy, 8, First Communion 'because his disability means he can't determine right from wrong', parents say. They said the Reverend made the controversial decision without reaching out to them or meeting the boy— Dave Vescio (@DaveVescio) February 28, 2020
"Our whole family has been brought up Catholic, both sides of our family," Natalie explained. "To us it is very important that we continue the faith in him. As you all know God says, 'We are all his children.'" At the time Natalie was informed her son could not receive the sacraments, she'd been dealing with the school for almost two years and said she was told that was not even a possibility. The family then mentioned that the priest who made the decision was not altogether clear with how he arrived at it. "We've never had any communication with him, never, not once," Natalie said. "He doesn't even know my son."
Father John Bambrick denies sacrament of Holy Communion to autistic Jackson boy. RUOC condemns this heinous action and demand that Bambrick exercise the discretion he is given by the USCCB and allow Jesus Christ to flow into this child.https://t.co/AvD21nfND7— riseupoc (@riseupoc) February 26, 2020
Jimmy LaCugna, Anthony's father, took to Facebook to expressed his disappointment about the church's 'disgraceful and disheartening' actions, that too against an 8-year-old. He wrote: Today Nicole and I were informed that our son Anthony would not be able to make his communion this year. As most of you know, Anthony is an autistic non-verbal child who is in his sacrament year. Father Bambric at Saint Aloysis 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.”
8 y/o Anthony LaCugna was denied his communion by the Saint Aloysius Church in NJ becuase he's non-verbal & has Autism. Both the Church & Archdiocese of Trenton say they are *now* trying to find a way to provide communions to those who are disabled: https://t.co/IPRA9taV7h— Morena Basteiro (@morenabasteiro) February 27, 2020
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. Please help spread the word for Anthony’s peers in his spectrum so no other child or family has to deal with or feel what we have been felt with over the past couple of days since we have been made aware of this. Father Bambric of Saint Aloysis Church and the Archdiocese of Trenton should be ashamed of themselves for this!!!
I'm a Catholic and a priest is not allowed to deny you reconciliation, or confession. They cannot restrict anyone's ability to partake in the Holy Eucharist. This is either fake news or that priest will be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. 100%— Rex Risus (@RexRisusofwater) February 28, 2020
The church themselves took to social media to post a message since they've been bombarded with letters and calls about Anthony. They wrote a statement that said: new information has come to light' allowing them to reconsider the move. Since Monday we have been researching how we could best assist the most profoundly disabled in a better way. 'New information has come to light which allows us to by-pass previous Diocesan Guidelines to better serve this subset population. The basic concept is the child should be presumed to have an inner spiritual relationship with God and this would be sufficient in these particular cases, thus this is a development of our guidelines based on the latest understanding.
Well they should be lambasted. And then thoroughly educated about the autism spectrum.— Lee-Marie Bartow (@LeeLee2k) February 28, 2020
Though the statement said the LaCugna family has been contacted about the shift in policy, Jimmy clarified the statement doesn't make any promises regarding their son. "It doesn't say Anthony can do his communion this year. It doesn't say they will work with us," Jimmy said. Not a lot of people were please by the church's decision and they were quite verbal about it. Joseph Ruscavage wrote: As a parent of a nonverbal child with Autism who has received both his first communion and confirmation from a bishop no less I can tell you that you are in the wrong. You are mistreating one of God’s holy innocents and you should be embarrassed and should be preparing to explain your actions to a higher authority in the future. God bless this young man.
Wow the Catholic Church proving yet again they don’t know the difference between right and wrong.— anastasiabeaverhausen (@anastasiaNo1) February 28, 2020
Maria Dorazio shared: I would like to extend a SINCERE apology to the Lacugna family & their gorgeous little son. I'm so sorry with all you have to deal with on a daily basis to have had to deal with this un-christian behavior by your parish. Please know your all in my prayers especially your llittle man. David Henry George Ackerman shared: We, as Christians, should not make our own rules up but only abide by God rule. Let’s think what Jesus would have done? And I believe he would have let the boy take communion. God bless the boy and is family. I believe God is with you. Ida Lucchesi added: These were the same reasons our Catholic Church refused to baptize my little sister with Down syndrome. Fortunately in her adult life we found a Father who was loving, understanding and willing.
There is always someone of greater authority to claim, hope the kid's tutors do that. If the story is truth they were in front of an ignorant who really needs to learn about this.— ᙎᥱ ᥙ⳽ᥱᑯ to ɾᥙᥒ ωɩtᖾ tᖾᥱ ωoꙆʋᥱ⳽ (@Wantedjango) February 28, 2020