There have been some interesting updates of late in the case of Adam Race, the autistic boy who was banned from the Bertha, Minnesota “Church of St. Joseph” by its pastor, Fr. Daniel Walz.
Adam’s mother, Carol, has been taking her family to another church for the past couple of weeks, but she hasn’t given up on Adam or on her desire to attend her local church. As reported by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Mrs. Race now has commitments from several parents with autistic children who are willing to drive up to several hours to bring their children to the church. Such a show of symbolic support is wonderful to see, and would that I could be there (along with my fiancee and her son, of course) to see Walz’ face on that Sunday morning.
Also, an earlier article in the same newspaper points out an interesting, ironic fact.
“In 2005, the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud presented Carol Race, Adam’s mother, with an award, recognizing her efforts to encourage families with disabled children to attend mass, she said. The award cited her “untiring efforts … to educate and advocate for others who have children with disruptive disabilities such as autism and seek to participate as a total family at Sunday mass.”
It’s interesting to note the sudden shift in the winds here. First she’s a hero for bringing her entire family, autistic boy included, to mass every Sunday. Now, two years later, her son is a pariah for the same reason. It’s also sad to note that the Diocese can’t even mention autism in an award without calling it a “disruptive disability.”
My earlier blog on this subject was definitely polarizing among those who commented. Most people seemed to come down on the side of the family, but there were a surprising number of apologists for what Daniel Walz has done. One, a fellow named Ben from Minnesota who says he attends Walz’ church, even called me and other commenters hypocrites. (Well, he said we were disrespecting Hippocrates, but I translated.) Ben apparently fears for my soul because I’m “messing with one of God’s employees.” If that’s the case, so be it. God’s personnel department needs work. I’m mainly glad to see that the issue is attracting attention. Attention is what autism has not been getting, and the most dangerous thing to a person with autism is ignorance.
One commenter objected to all the bad things that are being said (presumably by me, since my first post was fairly acidic) about Daniel Walz. I’m sorry if the things I’ve said offend, but what the man has done is inexcusable, and he’s making no move to correct that mistake. This adversely affects my view of him as a priest, a man, and a human. When I become that disdainful toward someone, I generally do not hold back; whatever else this blog may be, at its heart it is a vent.