The priest at a parish in southern California was told to leave the video game console in front of a parishioner who has autism because she is deaf and the priest said “no”.
The situation happened after the priest was told he was being asked to use the service of a woman who is deaf by a parish leader, said Mary Lou Staggs, a spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The incident occurred at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Santa Monica on Feb. 12.
The priest was asked by parishioners if he could use the church’s service for the deaf person.
When he said “yes”, the priest told the person she would need to leave.
The woman asked for more information about the service and the parishioning leader said he would be able to help her, according to Stagg, who is a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.
The man who was the lead pastor of the parish asked the priest for a list of people who could use their services, Stagg said.
The lead pastor then said “there are no deaf people at St Francis of Adss.”
The woman told Stagg she was uncomfortable, but the priest reassured her she would not have to leave if she didn’t want to.
After Stagg asked why the person was being told they could not use the services of the woman, the priest reportedly told her “that’s because you’re deaf.”
He later told the woman that he did not know the reason for the decision.
The story has prompted a national conversation about disability rights in the church and the issue of inclusion.
The LA Catholic archdiocese said it has received several complaints about the priest.