Gay Patient Claims Chaplain Refused to Give Last Rites

Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 12:41 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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In a dramatic bedside confrontation, a Catholic hospital chaplain refused to give the last rites to a heart attack patient after he admitted he was gay, the patient claimed in an interview with The Washington Post.

The patient, Ronald Plishka, a 63-year-old retired travel agent, said the Rev. Brian Coehlo had been reciting Communion prayers and administering last rites to him at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.

But Plishka said that when they started talking about Pope Francis, and he revealed he was gay, the chaplain refused to continue, and Plishka ended up swearing at him.

"I said I was so excited about him, because of what he said about gays," Plishka told the Post. "I said: 'Does that bother you, that I'm gay?' And he said 'no.'"

But Plishka said that a few seconds later, Coehlo "would not continue" and stopped delivering the prayers associated with the anointing of the sick, better known as the last rites "He said, 'I will pray with you,' but that's all he'd do. That was it."

Coelho did not respond to requests from the Post confirming Plishka's accusations. The Archdiocese of Washington, for whom the priest works, declined to comment.

When Plishka was talking to the priest about the Pope Francis, he was referring to a statement made last year by the pontiff when asked about gays. "Who am I to judge?" he replied.

Catholic doctrine does not recognize gay marriage and teaches that gay couples are "disordered," suggesting they are living in sin.

MedStar Washington Hospital Center said it supports gay and lesbian patients, and added that it expects anyone working at the facility to "adhere to our values," the Post added.

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