Church refuses boy with Down's syndrome Holy Communion

Denum Ellarby Denum's parents Clare and Darren said they felt let down by the church

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The parents of a boy with Down's syndrome have criticised the Roman Catholic Church for not allowing him to take his first Holy Communion.

In a letter to Clare Ellarby, the Diocese of Leeds said her son Denum, seven, had "limited concentration" and was not prepared for the experience.

Mrs Ellarby, from Batley, said: "It's just disgusting. I feel really let down by the Catholic faith."

The diocese said it hoped Denum would be able to participate in the future.

Denum attends St Mary's Catholic Primary School and St Mary's Catholic Church in Batley.

In its letter, the diocese said Denum had "limited concentration, doesn't really access the RE curriculum and does not enjoy going to Mass".

Family tradition

It said if Denum took his first Holy Communion when he was "better placed to understand" it would "enrich his whole experience".

Mrs Ellarby said: "I have been in that Catholic church all my life, as a child I went there every Sunday.

"I can't get there every Sunday now, it's difficult with Denum and I have got a younger child.

"But generations of my family have been baptised, made our Holy Communion, we had our marriage blessing there and we feel really let down."

The diocese said children could "only proceed to the sacrament of first Communion when they take part in the Church's life and understand the Church's faith".

"In regard to these sacraments Denum's family has not participated in the regular life of the Church or in the preparation preceding first Communion.

"We hope that this will change as Denum grows and we are working with him and his family to help him achieve this."

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