A man from Decatur, Ind. says a priest refused to allow him to sing at his own grandmother's funeral because he attended a gay pride rally last year and it could bring a "scandal" to the church.

After Connor Hankes' grandmother passed away last Monday, he contacted St. Mary's of the Assumption Catholic Church, asking to be allowed to sing at the funeral, local news station WANE reports. Father Bob J. Lengerich reportedly denied Hankes' request, saying he was worried that Hankes was living a "homosexual lifestyle" and supporting LGBT rights.

"This Priest had judged me and really formed an opinion about me without ever communicating with me," Hankes told WANE, adding that the priest never spoke to him directly.

Taking to Facebook, Hankes explained what Lengerich allegedly told him and posted a letter from the church.

"Both my Grandma and Grandpa would be disgusted by their parish. Their compassion and empathy was abundant, no matter who you were," he wrote in part. "They saw beyond race, religion, sexuality, and social class. They loved everyone. That is what is means to be a Christian. That is what it means to be Catholic."

Lengerich reportedly told Hankes he was allowed to honor his grandmother outside the church.

"It was very clear to me that he was very set in his mindset," Hankes told WANE. "He did not want me to participate in my grandmother's funeral."

St. Mary's has since released a statement on the incident.

"Having become aware of the painful situation at Saint Mary's Parish in Decatur, the diocese is working on fostering healing and reconciliation between the pastor and the Hankes family," the statement reads, according to WANE. "We encourage all to move forward with genuine Christian love and mercy and with respect and prayer for one another."

The letter Hankes posted to his Facebook has gone viral, receiving nearly 900 shares and 250 likes.

"I pray honestly for the softening of his heart and that he becomes a better leader for the Catholic Church," he said.

Hankes said his family filed a formal complaint with the leaders of the Diocese.

 

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