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Catholic priest at teenager's funeral condemns suicide

Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Temperance, Michigan Image copyright Google Maps
Image caption Father Don LaCuesta used the funeral at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Temperance, Michigan to condemn suicide

Parents of a teenage boy who took his own life have complained after their Catholic priest criticised him at the funeral for killing himself.

Father Don LaCuesta in the service questioned whether Maison Hullibarger, 18, would enter heaven, horrifying his parents and family.

The Archdiocese of Detroit have relieved Father LaCuesta from funeral duties, but the family want him fired.

Catholicism has traditionally taught that suicide is an unforgiveable sin.

Only recently has the church said that extreme psychological stress could mean forgiveness for those who take their own lives.

Maison, from Temperance, Michigan, took his own life on 4 December.

His parents Jeff and Linda Hullibarger sought the help of their priest, Father LaCuesta, before the funeral.

"We wanted him to celebrate how Maison lived, not how he died," Ms Hullibarger told the Detroit Free Press.

But the priest used the service at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic church to attack their child.

"He was up there condemning our son, pretty much calling him a sinner," Mr Hullibarger said. "He wondered if he had repented enough to make it to heaven. He said 'suicide' upwards of six times."

Image caption The Catholic Church has historically condemned suicide as an unforgiveable sin

The appearance at the funeral against their wishes of their son's football coach, who reportedly bullied Maison and his brothers, added to their pain.

A statement released by the Archdiocese of Detroit said Father LaCuesta would not preach at funerals "for the foreseeable future" and apologised for what happened, but the family want him removed from his post to stop him upsetting others.

"We're afraid that, like the Catholic Church does, they'll send him off and he'll do it to somebody else," Mr Hullibarger said.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, there is help available. You can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and if you live in Northern Ireland you can call Lifeline, a 24 hour helpline on 0808 808 8000.

There is list of organisations that may be able to help at bbc.co.uk/actionline.

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