Catholic Church | Discrimination | Religion

Catholic Priest Refuses Gay Man Last Rites

Ronald Plishka, a gay Catholic man who suffered a heart attack on February 6, was admitted to the emergency room at Washington Hospital Center in DC for treatment. Unsure if he would survive, he requested a priest give him the last rites. Father Brian Coelho was brought in to perform the ceremony but stopped once he learned that Plishka is gay.

The Washington Blade reports:

Washington“We started talking and I told him I was so happy with this new Pope because of his comments about the gays and his accepting the gays,” Plishka said. “And I mentioned that I was gay. I said it and then I asked him does that bother you? And he said, ‘Oh, no, that does not bother me,’” said Plishka.

“But then he would not proceed with administering the last rites or communion. He couldn’t do it.”

According to Plishka, Coelho, who brought a supply of holy water to his hospital room, never said in so many words that he was refusing to administer communion and last rites.

Asked what Coelho told him, Plishka said, “Well, I mean he stopped. He would not do it. By him not doing it I assumed he would not do it because why was he getting ready to do it and all of a sudden when I say I’m gay he stops?”

Plishka said Coelho gave no reason for not giving him the sacraments he requested but offered instead to pray with him.

“He said what he wanted to do,” said Plishka. “He wanted to pray. That’s what he wanted to do. He said well I could pray with you. And I just told him to get the fuck out of here — excuse me. But that’s what I told him.”

Plishka received further treatment at the hospital and was eventually released. Once home he called to complain about Coelho.

Once at home, Plishka said he called the hospital chaplain’s office to lodge a complaint against Fr. Coelho. He said he also called the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception next to Catholic University, where he has attended Mass nearly every Sunday for years.

“They have a priest on call,” he said. “So he called me back and said he agreed with what the priest at the hospital did. He said unless you’re willing to change and basically become somebody you’re not, then this priest had every right to do that, to refuse you communion and to refuse you the last rites of the church,” Plishka said.

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  1. How very "christian" of the priest. Man, that club is messed up. Some major clean-up needs to be done.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 23, 2014 6:54:15 AM

  2. Sounds dickish, but am I supposed to feel bad for the man? You willingly subject yourself to a religion that largely disregards you and is against the kind of person you are, is it a surprise when things like this happen?

    Posted by: Bryan | Feb 23, 2014 6:54:17 AM

  3. Sounds dickish, but am I supposed to feel bad for the man? You willingly subject yourself to a religion that largely disregards you and is against the kind of person you are, is it a surprise when things like this happen?

    Posted by: Bryan | Feb 23, 2014 6:54:18 AM

  4. Completely in agreement with Bryan.

    People may think that religion is literally about "love thy neighbour" but that is simply secular post-enlightenment society remaking bronze age mythology. The bible is full of putting the hate on others - "neighbour" is not as heavily generalized. Wishing religion were different is simply wishing that religion was something else.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 23, 2014 7:01:20 AM

  5. This type of thing is bound to happen when you continue to support the very organization that works day and night to keep you a second class citizen.

    Posted by: mickey | Feb 23, 2014 7:04:41 AM

  6. Isn't the official Catholic position that being gay is not a sin, only gay sex is?

    Posted by: litper | Feb 23, 2014 7:05:24 AM

  7. Gotta love the Catholic Church----they'll send millions of tax-free dollars to protect their pefophic priests but refuse to give a gay man his last rites.

    I wonder if this priest gave the last rites to people who continued to wear poly-cotton blends or bankers who made a living off of usury.

    Posted by: Chrislam | Feb 23, 2014 7:05:28 AM

  8. Gotta love the Catholic Church----they'll spend millions of tax-free dollars to protect their pedophilic priests but refuse to give a gay man his last rites.

    I wonder if this priest gave the last rites to people who continued to wear poly-cotton blends or bankers who made a living off of usury.

    Posted by: Chrislam | Feb 23, 2014 7:06:27 AM

  9. Christianity like all other organized religions is simply a tool of oppression. It oppresses and marginalizes anyone that does not comply with its beliefs.

    Posted by: Sean | Feb 23, 2014 7:15:43 AM

  10. So the magic shaman refused to perform the superstitious rite?
    If you waved a few twenty dollar bills at him you would have had the complete show.

    That is how it has always worked. Ask anyone who wanted a high mass for a wedding. "The price is... I mean the usual donation is..."

    Posted by: james st. james | Feb 23, 2014 7:23:16 AM

  11. Oh no, now you won't get into that Heaven that doesn't exist and wouldn't have you if it did (at least in their version).

    Posted by: Tigernan | Feb 23, 2014 7:29:18 AM

  12. Having been raised Lutheran I gave all that crap up as an adult and only go to churches for weddings/funerals these days. They don't care about you, only your donations.

    Catholics are the worst of the bunch with all their protection of pedophiles - how about caring for the victims instead of shielding the pedophiles and the church's money?

    Posted by: bkmn | Feb 23, 2014 7:38:37 AM

  13. Why do people continue to be surprised when they find out the Catholic church DOES NOT like gays and thinks women should be only baby machines???!!!. How is thus news it of any interest in 2014!!!! This was obvious in the 1980s with their response to HIV and inif 1890s with child molestation cover ups and 2000s with abortion rights and desalvo case with end of life decisions, and 2010s with birth control

    A religious order is not a democratic organization. Gay Catholics are even mire self delusional and hating than gay republicans at this point..

    Posted by: steve talbert | Feb 23, 2014 7:52:25 AM

  14. And if all these religionists are right, is a little snakeoil at the end of my life going to save me ?

    I will rely on the old rules, live well and have two coins for the Boatman.
    He will get me across to join Hephaistion and Alexander; Achilles and Petroclus. And I will sit down with The Sacred Band of Thebes and hear their stories of defeating the Spartans.

    But your hypocritical priests and your self obsessed evangelicals you can keep......they can quote all the boring Leviticus and Jeremiah and Paul and all the other works they manipulated into their 'Bible' (-while leaving out St. Thomas and Mary Magdalen gospels-) but I would prefer to be with all my gay heroes on the banks of the Styx.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 23, 2014 7:56:50 AM

  15. I'm sorry about Ronald Plishka's experience, but stories like this are all too common. A similar situation happened to us in 2013; something we never thought would ever occur.

    In the 1970's, through business connections, I met a banker by the name of Bill. At that time, I was in a straight marriage and deeply closeted. Bill knew I was gay, and he is gay as well.

    Bill left the business world in 1975 and decided he had "a calling." He joined a Catholic Brotherhood of some kind and began working with the sick, the elderly and various youth programs. Clearly, he was an asset to the community and our relationship with him continued until 2013.

    I divorced in 1983 and began a life-partnership with my husband. The law changed in California to allow for same sex marriage in August of last year. At that time, we arranged for our wedding.

    When the wedding was being planned, there was no doubt between us that we would contact Bill and ask him to officiate. In fact, we thought it would be an honor if he did do it, and we approached it that way with him when the request was made.

    He denied the request, citing his religious beliefs.

    We reminded him that we've known him and been close to him for more than 30 years. In my case it was closer to 40. His response was that it went against his teachings (teachings???) and he wouldn't cross the line.

    We then asked him if he would at least attend the wedding. He declined that also. He said any participation would be contrary to what is in the scripture.

    We then said that if that was true, then has our entire 30-40 year relationship been a lie? He asked us not to put him in the position of having to answer that question.

    I reminded him that during occasional visits over the years, we gave him a place to stay in our home. We fed him at our table. We corresponded with him regularly and there was never any mistaking our friendship. His answer was "I'm sorry."

    We know that Bill reads this forum and we also know that to this day, he's still a gay man. So, here's hoping he sees this.

    Enjoy your faith, Bill. You broke our heart. The wedding was in August. You didn't even call to wish us well. When your Christmas Card arrived in December, you got in back in the mail with a note to tell you not to bother contacting us again. We meant it then, and we mean it now.

    Furthermore, you're a classic hypocrite. When you claim to have gotten the calling, God was telling you to love everyone, not a select few.

    Posted by: Mark | Feb 23, 2014 7:56:51 AM

  16. I need a better phone app spellcheck. Or maybe thinner fingers.

    Hate to type "got a great gift" and it ends "how about a fist"

    Posted by: steve talbert | Feb 23, 2014 7:58:17 AM

  17. I agree with all the anti-religion statements, but this guy thought he was dying and still believes in that stuff. He should check out the Episcopalians. They don't despise gays, and have confession, last rites, and the same reference for the eucharist.

    Posted by: Akrontru | Feb 23, 2014 7:58:33 AM

  18. as I have said

    till the catechism changes, nothing has changed no matter what words the new pope says

    Posted by: Moz's | Feb 23, 2014 8:00:51 AM

  19. And gay people still choose to be Catholic because...??

    Posted by: jim | Feb 23, 2014 8:02:10 AM

  20. And yes, Mark Bingham will be there too. He is expecting me with all my questions.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 23, 2014 8:03:37 AM

  21. This story is really weird, and I'm pretty sure what the priest did isn't normal church policy. First off, you're supposed to be at death's door when you get last rites, but he seemed quite chatty. Maybe the priest just figured the guy wasn't going to die, so didn't need the last rites. But putting that aside, the whole thing about having to be willing to change and obey church doctrine before you can get last rites can't be right. Almost everyone who gets it is supposed to face imminent death, so there's no time to change even if you wanted to. And the church regularly gives last rites to prisoners being executed for all kinds of horrible crimes, no questions asked.

    Disclaimer: not a catholic, or religious at all, don't believe any of it, just find it an interesting relic of medieval times.

    Posted by: Brian1 | Feb 23, 2014 8:07:35 AM

  22. Let's hope he recovers and finds a more accepting denomination.

    Posted by: Gay Guy | Feb 23, 2014 8:07:43 AM

  23. I don't doubt this for a minute. And, as for Francis, well, there isn't much warmth being show for divorced Catholics. LGBT are far behind on the list. On a personal note, it was difficult to get a RC clergyman to my mother's funeral service because she wasn't a "dues paying" member of any parish. Of course, being in her mid-nineties and somewhat confined wasn't relevant to the issue. The deacon that showed up did a great job referring to "him." I am a cleric. I've been on the other side of the rail. There's lots of denial. There's a lot of protecting the investment in power.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 23, 2014 8:07:48 AM

  24. The hospital was in the right by telling the archdiocese of washington that it expects better patient care from priests. This priest should not be permitted to do hospital calls.
    I'm sure he's persona non grata at that hospital now and, having been a hospital chaplain, i'm sure there was quite a meeting of the chaplaincy service at that hospital after his actions. Chaplains of any faith are supposed to calm people down, not cause their blood pressure to skyrocket. If this guy's not going to do that he shouldn't be doing patient calls.

    Posted by: woody | Feb 23, 2014 8:33:08 AM

  25. @brian
    the way this sacrament is looked at has changed. it's called sacrament of the sick now and can be given any time someone feels weak or troubled--psychologically too, it doesn't have to be a physical illness. you can be depressed and get it. so, it's an expanded sense now. it's supposed to make you feel calmer and stronger--which helps a lot of people out if they're going into an operating room.
    that priest shouldn't be in hospitals.

    Posted by: woody | Feb 23, 2014 8:45:13 AM

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