- The idea that a child “disrupts” mass blatantly goes against the explicit teaching of Jesus: the Apostles were mad at the children being “disruptive” and “distracting,” and Jesus scolded them.
- The idea of the “age of Reason” is ridiculous and also contrary to the Gospel, esp. when it is only used in the Roman Church, and it is based on outmoded ideas of human development. What is necessary is that the person believe the Eucharist is really Jesus. Any two year old can tell you that.
- A restraining order is about the most un-pastoral thing this priest could have done. I wonder how many times he’s visited these people at their home? Back where I used to live, there was a man with Down’s syndrome who came to mass every day. He served at the altar during daily masses and some Sundays. He was treated very kindly by several pastors in a row. He would do odd jobs around the parish, and had keys to the whole parish.
He made some of the Charismatics uncomfortable, since they were afraid of “catching what he had,” but most of the parish loved him. Then a more liberal pastor came along who kept up the same routine but routinely ridiculed the poor man.
The next pastor was extremely uncomfortable with him, as were the nuns. They stopped letting him serve at Mass. They took away the various roles he’d held at church. Of course, being denied the role he’d so long enjoyed made him angry, so then they said they were “afraid” of him.
They took away his keys. He fell into a deep depression and died.
Based upon my experience with priests and disabled parishioners (including my experience as a disabled parishioner), I think the pastoral approach has a lot to deal with this situation.
I used to attend a daily mass where a family always brough their autistic son. He’d yell “Amen” and stuff throughout the mass. No one found him “disruptive”. His presence was a joy. Again, the attitude of the parishioners is a big factor.
However, I have Asperger’s, relatively functional, but Asperger’s none the less, and my wife and I always wonder if that’s not more of a disabilitiy than my Marfan syndrome. Crowds make me extremely agitated, especially when I know I’m being looked down on for my obvious physical disabilities. My wife is fianlly coming to terms–after eight years–with the fact that it’s just not fair to force me to go to certain kinds of social situations that my brain can’t handle.
Often, we had to accept that God does not always want us to worship Him the way we think is best. It is probably not best for the parents to take this child to Mass at this parish. Obviously, the pastor and other parishioners are hostile, and the boy is picking up on that hostility.
It’s a big myth that people with autism and Asperger’s lack awareness of other people’s feelings. Just the opposte: we know exactly what other people are feeling. We know what they’re feeling beneath the surface, and that awareness colors how we deal with people. On the Asperger’s end, we don’t see the logic in putting on a facade and we hate that other people put on facades.
It would be best to take this child to a smaller parish with a loving pastor and congregation, with a very “low key” liturgy that is not going to overwhelm his over-sensitive senses.