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Parents: Our Autistic Son 'Is Being Shunned' by Church

NJ couple says 8-year-old was turned down for first Holy Communion because he's nonverbal
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2020 9:21 AM CST

(Newser) – A New Jersey couple is railing against their church for a "disgraceful and disheartening" act against their 8-year-old son, which they say is due to his disability. Per NBC News, Anthony LaCugna is autistic and nonverbal, and because of that, his parents say, Saint Aloysius Church in Jackson refused to allow him to celebrate his first Holy Communion. Because 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 posted on Facebook. He said he and his wife were informed of the church's "upsetting" decision on Tuesday. "Our son is being shunned from the Catholic faith due to his inability to communicate." Anthony had been set to receive Communion in April.

While the church wouldn't talk about Anthony's case specifically, it said in its own Wednesday post that it had been researching the issue and is now of the view that kids with severe cognitive and developmental disabilities "should be presumed to have an inner spiritual relationship with God and this would be sufficient in these particular cases." The post said the LaCugnas had been informed of "this new guidance." But as of Wednesday night the LaCugnas said no one from the church had reached out to them, and that the church's statement doesn't explicitly say Anthony will get to make his Communion this year. "Our whole family has been brought up Catholic," Nicole LaCugna says, per WABC. "To us it is very important that we continue the faith in him." On the church's actions to date, she adds: "It's a disgrace to our religion." (Read more autism stories.)

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