Autistic child banned from Mass


There is an article in the Minnesota papers today that a Catholic Church has filed a restraining order against a boy to keep him from attending Mass due to his Autism and behaviour.

It seems the church has offered solutions, but the family feels they are unacceptable.

If Mass is not an optional experience, then how could this happen? Isn’t the boy obligated to attend Mass regardless of his infirmity?

This was troubling to me…


Mass is not optional usually. In the case of a person who doesn’t have the capacity to sit through Mass, there is no obligation. There are several reasons why a person could get “off the hook” for attending Mass:
*]To care of an infant or young child.
*]To care for somebody who is sick and infirm.
*]Because there is no Mass where a person finds himself or herself of a Sunday.
*]Because somebody is ill and can’t get himself or herself to Mass.
*]Real transportation issues.[/LIST]


There are quite a few threads on this already…


What a sad case, I feel for the mother but I certainly can understand the Church’s stance. Also, I’ve read conflicting accounts about the story. The Church says that the boy knocked an elderly person and a child out of the pew. There was also a claim that the boy climbed into someone’s car
and started it while there were people standing in front of it. The mother-on World Net Daily-claimed that never happened.

I think that the mother is wrong about attending church. Certainly if a person has a phycial reason-such as illness-not to go to Church then they aren’t sinning by remaining home. THe Eucharist is sometimes brought to home bound individuals.

There has to be some compromise with this family.


When you read more about this, the titles of some stories are misleading - the person in question is not a chilld, but a young man who weighs over 200 lbs. and severely autistic. His outbursts can cause physical harm to others.

The priest has apparently offered many solutions, including saying Mass at the home. For some reason, the mother will not accept any of the solutions offered.

This is a sad sad situation, the priest, the parish and this family need serious prayer.


I agree, I’m curious why no compromise. I mean, I understand she wants her child to be participating as much as possible, but if there is behaviour that is causing concern to this level, I didn’t what she thought should happen.

I feel for this family and this congregation. Since I’m not a Catholic yet, I do wonder how situations like this are resolved…hopefully with prayer and discernment…


There are other threads on this, I read complete articles that were linked from other threads on this, some no longer have the information on them.
Apparently from reading those and listening to the mother on news programs, at times the child who is over 6 feet tall and weighs over 200 pounds has to be physically restrained at Mass, he seems to have a hard time at Mass so I wonder why they, the parents would even want to put him through that.
The suggestions offered by their Pastor were all rejected as they felt they ought to be able to go to Mass as a family.
Go figure:shrug:


I’ve read a lot of articles on this, I really am confused as to where this mother is coming from.
He is a big boy, and he is disruptive, I am sure he does scare some people at Mass.
The Pastor has offered several other options such as having a feed of the Mass go into the Basement and he can participate there. We all know Church basements are usually very nice, so I don’t know what the mother’s beef is. I hate to say it but it sounds like she just wants some kind of publicity while attacking the Church at the same time.
They need prayers.


I don’t have the link, but from what I read the mother’s and the priest’s stories are different. The mother says that some of the things which the priest claims happened did not happen. If they didn’t happen, then there’s no reason why the young man in question should not be able to attend Mass. Also, the priest is then lying, and that’s a whole other problem. I know very little about the situation so I can’t say any more than that.


The mother admits to forcing her child with autism to go to a crowded Sunday Mass, to binding his hands and feet, to sitting on him to restrain him, etc.

I highly doubt the mother wants this publicity. She is going to alert some special needs organization or the CPS and lose all her children.


It should be easy for the priest, if he is the honest one, to prove the truth. All he has to do is allow the people that the young man knocked over, or frightened, to speak out.

Could it be possible that the mother might be in her own denial about her son’s actions?


Thanks for the info, OutinChglBurbs!


What a sad situation. If what the priest says is true – and I surely would hope that a priest would not mislead – then I think this mother is doing her son a HUGE disservice. I know that parents with children with special needs want their children to have normal lives and that’s admirable; but the fact of the matter is, they have special needs. Although this child is 13, his size does present a problem to others around him if he becomes violent; and that should not be overlooked by the parents. From what I am reading it seems that the parish has offered very reasonable compromises for this family to be able to attend mass as a family which is what the mom says she wants; however, she has chosen to turn all of those options down and make a crusade out of this instead of doing what’s best for her WHOLE family.


Much less the rest of the parishoners. This is nuts. I would back the priest whole-heartedly in this situation. The point of the liturgy is to be all-encompassing. We are not individuals but one Church (including this child, however he is incapable of realizing or understanding this). When one child (sadly) has autism to the point that he removes the focus from the Word and the Eucharist to being about him (and people worried he might hurt them), the mother and father have the responsibility to work with the priest so that they not only benefit as a family, receive the Eucharist and the Word – but so does the whole church. Obviously the two don’t mix.

That poor kid. Prayers with the family. I hope they work it out peaceably.


In court papers, church leaders say the danger is real. The Rev. Daniel Walz wrote in his petition for the restraining order that Adam — who already is more than 6 feet tall and weighs more than 225 pounds — has hit a child, has nearly knocked over elderly parishioners while bolting from his pew, has spit at people and has urinated in the church.

“His behavior at Mass is extremely disruptive and dangerous,” wrote Walz. “Adam is 13 and growing, so his behaviors grow increasingly difficult for his parents to manage.”

Carol Race said Walz’s claims are exaggerated.

“He’s never actually injured anyone,” she said. “He’s never knocked down anyone. He’s never urinated on anyone or spit on anyone.”

You see, she doesn’t say the priest is lying. **He says **that the boy **spit at people and urinated in the church. She says that he never actually spit on **anyone or **peed on **anyone. She also doesn’t say that he hasn’t hit anyone or almost knocked them down, just that he hasn’t injured anyone. See the difference? You could hit me or plow over me without actually injuring me.

The point is, while these things don’t frighten her family, as they know the boy and are accustomed to his ways, the general population would be frightened by such behavior.

And, I’d have a hard time accepting being spit at by her son, even if his aim is off…or hit, even if it didn’t cause injury.


And urinating in the church…I’m not sure I’d want to bring my kid back if he did that!

I can understand how frustrating it is to have a child with special needs that are so severe you have to organize your whole household around him. However, she can’t have it both ways. She can’t expect the parishioners to treat her son like anybody else and NOT hold him accountable for his actions! To have no consequences. If a non-autistic child behaved like this, I doubt there would be any argument over allowing them back in Mass.


As the mother of a severely disabled child, I back the priest 100% in this case. The sacredness of the Mass must be preserved, the other parishoners must be respected, and legal liability must be considered (God forbid someone were to sue the parish for an injury caused by this young man).

This is not a case of misunderstanding autism. This is a case of a mother misunderstanding her obligations to God, to her son, and to other people. There have been plenty of times when my husband and I traded off kid-duty to go to Mass (we did it this past Sunday, as a matter of fact), and if she wished, she could possibly arrange the same sort of thing. It has to be a good deal easier than restraining a large and unruly boy in a church.



and we often trade off kids without having a disabled child. :shrug:


It isn’t even the disabled one we traded off – it’s the TWO YEAR OLD! :rotfl: Talk about disruptive in Mass!


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