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:
“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.