By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Bite o' Christ
Nobody hates the sight of a grown man crying more then The Bird, unless that grown man happened to be Andy Thomas or Janet Napolitano. But when Nick Moran welled up after talking about how the sadistic Roman Catholic Churchhad refused to allow his autistic son to receive communion, this pretend pigeon reached for a hankie itself.
"My son has earned the right to receive communion," Moran wept to The Bird. "And no one -- not a priest or the bishop or the Pope -- is going to stop him."
Maybe. On the other hand, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted seems to be prevailing in attempts to keep 10-year-old Matthew Moran, who has "moderately severe" autism, from participating in the joys of transubstantiation. Olmsted and company are telling the autistic boy's parents, Nick Moran and Dr. Jean Weaver, that because Matthew refuses to consume the host, he isn't receiving Communion properly. And until he does, the mean old church officials won't allow the kid to partake of the church's most meaningful sacrament.
Dad Nick tells The Bird that the Morans, who live in Lake Havasu City, received a letter from Olmsted last month saying that young Matthew's way of taking communion was "bizarre" and that until the boy can "actually take and eat" the Eucharist, he's barred from accepting communion at all.
As if pretending to eat the flesh of God weren't bizarre already!
"But my son has an eating disorder!" Moran wailed. "He's autistic, and he can't swallow foods with certain textures!"
"Well, too damn bad," the Church appears to be telling poor little Matthew. "Your way of eating Jesus is too weird for us."
Because of his aversion to most food groups, Matthew, who received his First Communion about three years ago at his former parish in Pennsylvania, usually just takes the Communion wafer and places it briefly in his mouth. Then dad Nick removes the host from his son's tongue and consumes it himself.
Sketchy. But this, Moran tells The Bird, is the only way Matthew can take communion. Otherwise, according to his dad, he'd just spit it out.
That Matthew's way is just not good enough for the pious Olmsted and his cronies proves they have apparently forgotten that -- if The Bird remembers its catechism correctly -- Jesus touched the leper; he didn't turn the poor slob away.
"If my son didn't have legs, these people would insist that he walk," said Moran, who claims he and his family have been ostracized by the officials at their church, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Lake Havasu, and pretty much ignored by every Catholic agency they've contacted thus far.
While The Bird can't figure out why anyone would want to attend church at all, let alone eat a hunk of pretend flesh from some dead guy, it can attest to being shut out by Catholics, since not one of the folks from the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix would speak to it. In fact, Isabela Rice, director of the local Roman Catholic Diocese Office on Disabilities and Pastoral Care, told The Bird, "We have a very firm rule about not talking to your newspaper about any matter." (Maybe because we observed that ex-Bishop Thomas O'Brien's a sociopathic killer who covered up for pedophiles.) But at least she had the Christian decency to apologize about it.
"Father Michael Deptula is a sick man," Moran said of the priest at Our Lady of the Lake who first got this "no-communion-for-disabled-kids" ball rolling. "He doesn't have the right to revoke a sacrament, and neither does the Bishop. Only the Pope can do that."
Rather than take the matter to Benedict XVI (a.k.a. Joseph Ratzinger), Moran has decided to hire a lawyer to defend his son's rights. But whatever the outcome of this pending case, you won't find Nick Moran becoming a Protestant any time soon.
"I love being Catholic," he sniffled. "It's the only thing I know how to be. I'm not going to change religions just because I have an idiot for a priest."
Not even if it turns out that you belong to a church that's using the Holy Eucharist to discriminate against the disabled?
"Nothing will drive me away," Moran swore. "Church doctrine is supposed to be 'Take this and eat, all of you.' Not 'some of you.' And I'm going to prove that."
The Bird forgets. Did it already call Sheriff Joe a reptile in this column? Oh, yeah, it did. How about a cockroach?
Because that's what this extended middle finger fears he may turn out to be. That is, a creature that not even a nuclear blast could kill, like those armor-plated insects that crawled out from under the rubble in Hiroshima near the end of World War II.
Such thoughts were running through The Bird's brain the other day when Arpaio announced for a fifth four-year term as sheriff -- a year and a half before any other politician would even think of announcing for the 2008 election. He must have been jonesing for a press conference; it had been a whole week since he'd held the one where he came out against sheep-fucking ("Baa-aaaaaad News," March 16).