Father Kenneth Doyle

Q. Recently, at a Mass celebrated by our archbishop, a few people about five rows back from the altar stood during the entire Mass to protest some decisions by the archbishop that they disagreed with. (He was upholding church teaching on marriage as being between one man and one woman.)

They held no signs, but their actions distracted from the Mass — which I believe should be centered on Christ — and they certainly blocked the view of the congregants seated behind them. Is protesting in this way acceptable, even if no signs are held? (Indianapolis, Indiana)

A. Your question, no doubt, has to do with the announcement in June 2019 that a teacher at a Catholic school in Indianapolis had been terminated because of his same-sex marriage. A statement from the archdiocese noted that “all teachers, school leaders and guidance counselors are ministers and witnesses of the faith, who are expected to uphold the teachings of the church in their daily lives, both in and out of school.”

In a subsequent press conference, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was quoted as saying that the issue in the case “is about public witness of church teaching on the dignity of marriage as one man and one woman. That is our church teaching.”

As for the strategy employed by the protestors in standing during the entire Mass, I agree with you that this must have been distracting, especially for those seated behind them. The Eucharist is meant to be an experience of prayer — the highest prayer, in fact — and anything that would divert attention from that should be shunned.

Those wanting to indicate their disagreement with the archdiocese’s decision might have been better advised to make their feelings known outside the church, not within — and not, certainly, during the Eucharist.

Q. I desperately want a child. I am not married and have had cancer twice. I take chemo for five days, then I’m off for 23 days, and the cycle is continuous. I will not be able to have my own children because chemo could harm the baby. I am not able to adopt through Catholic Charities since I am single. I am a practicing Catholic wanting to take care of an unwanted child. Why am I unable to adopt through Catholic Charities? (Jefferson City, Missouri)

A. Catholic Charities has no rule against adoption by a single parent, so I’m not sure whether you were told that or just assumed it. (The Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, for example, specifies on its website, “Single parents are eligible to become adoptive applicants for some programs. Catholic Charities Counseling and Adoption Services understands that a good home can be provided by a single parent.”)

While a two-parent home is the ideal, single parents can indeed offer children the love and stability they need to develop and flourish. A prospective parent’s health, though, is one of the factors taken into account in the placement decision, since raising a child can be a demanding task. I would suggest that you speak directly to the Catholic Charities office in your area and explain your situation, perhaps bolstered by a doctor’s certificate of your readiness to be a parent.

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Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.