People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. -- Mark 10:13-16
One thing that can be assured: incidents like those described below would never happen in an Orthodox Church, where the Sacraments are viewed as Mysteries beyond human understanding, and where human limitations do not limit the grace of God.
Eight-year-old with cerebral palsy denied first communion because he was ‘incapable of understanding what it meant'
April 25, 2011
A disabled boy was refused his first Holy Communion after a priest decided the child could not understand what it meant, his family have claimed.
Eight-year-old Kevin Castro's family have accused Father Phil Henning, priest at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Floresville, Texas, of 'discrimination' after he refused to carry out the ritual.
Instead Father Henning offered to give the the boy the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
Irma Castro, Kevin's grandmother, said: 'That is the anointing they give you before death. That was very offensive.'
She claims the priest said her grandson, who suffers from cerebral palsy and has a mental age of six months, did not qualify for the Catholic initiation 'because he was not able to understand the meaning of receiving the body of Christ.'
First Communion - the colloquial name for a child's first reception of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist - is an important religious milestone for children raised in Catholic families.
Catholic doctrine says that a child receiving Holy Communion must have 'sufficient knowledge' of Christ, but it doesn't specify what level of knowledge is considered sufficient.
The rite of passage is an important step towards Confirmation, which bestows full membership of the church, and is often accompanied by family gatherings and celebrations.
Deacon Pat Rodgers, from the Archdiocese of San Antonio, said the decision whether to give the sacrament lies with the priest.
'It's never our desire, hope or wish to withhold a sacrament from someone who wants or needs it,' Father Rodgers told KSAT12.
Mrs Castro said after spending months preparing her grandson for his communion the refusal had shaken her faith.
'I hurt for my grandson and my family,' she said.