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Teen suicide is reaching epidemic levels, and priests receive blowback when they preach about the sin of suicide.
The rate of suicide for white children between the ages of 10 to 17 is up 70 percent between 2006 and 2016. It has also increased across age, gender and ethnicity in every state but one from 1999 to 2016. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting, "More than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition."
During this season which celebrates the beginning of the life of Christ, who came to bring us eternal life, it may seem odd to discuss suicide, which is a rejection of life in time and in eternity. But shortly after Christmas on New Year's Day itself, suicide rates soar as the focus is on faith and family which, for most people, are in tatters.
One priest from the archdiocese of Detroit attempted to preach on the sin of suicide and received blowback from the diocese and from parents of the teen at whose funeral he preached. The priest, Don LaCuesta, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Temperance, has been banned by the officials of the archdiocese from preaching at funerals and pledged that "he will have all other homilies reviewed by a priest mentor."
One of those officials presumably is Lory McGlinnen, the archdiocesan director of parish life, who insiders say wields an enormous amount of power and uses it in a heavy-handed and excessive manner against priests of the archdiocese. Part of the pushback by the diocese against Fr. LaCuesta includes requiring him to seek "the assistance he needs in order to become a more effective minister in these difficult situations."
This assistance, according to the archdiocese will include him "getting help from professionals — on human, spiritual and pastoral levels — to probe how and why he failed to effectively address the grief of the family in crisis." Priests avoid this blowback by canonizing suicide victims in their homilies.
Lay people, meanwhile, talk as if suicide was a brave solution that ended the emotional pain of the person who took their own life. Pastors, therefore, need to communicate Church teaching to their parishioners and especially to teens on the sin of suicide. The reality is that suicide is murder and murder is a mortal sin. Mortal sin separates a person from God when done deliberately, with full knowledge and free will.
In Romans 8:35, St. Paul asks, "Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ?" The answer is that only a sinner can separate himself from God's love by choosing sin over God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 2282 says suicide does just that.
Watch the panel discuss the rejection of life in time and for all eternity in The Download—The Sin of Suicide.