The parents of a 7-year-old boy with Down's syndrome say their son has been discriminated against by the Roman Catholic Church after he was denied taking his first Holy Communion and confirmation.
Clare and Darren Ellarby, of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, U.K., have been left outraged after learning that their son Denum was denied because St. Mary's Catholic Church suggested the boy has "limited concentration," according to BBC news.
"It's just disgusting. I feel really let down by the Catholic faith," said 30-year-old mother Clare.
"Generations of my family have been baptized, made our Holy Communion, we had our marriage blessing there and we feel really let down," she said.
Denum attends a mainstream Roman Catholic primary school and is unable to join his classmates in preparing for their first communion due to the church's decision.
Although Clare put forward her complaint to diocese chiefs, they have supported Father Patrick Mungovin of St. Mary's church in Batley.
The Leeds Diocese Vicar General, Michael McQuinn, denied the boy has been banned and suggested that Denum simply does not understand the church's faith and is welcome to take part in his first communion when he does.
"Denum should proceed to First Sacraments when he will be better placed to understand the preparation and to enjoy participation in Mass," McQuinn told Daily Mail.
"Christians come to share fully in the life of the Christian Church through the sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation," a diocese spokesman said.
"Often Baptism is celebrated for babies in order to bring them into the life of the Church but they 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," the spokesman added.
Although Denum does not know how to read or write, he is said to be a smart and capable young boy.
"I think he is very bright. He is doing everything that a child with Down’s syndrome would normally do," Clare said.
The boy's parents insist that their son has been singled out because of his disability.
"I believe it is because of his disability that they won’t accept him. I feel very upset my son is being discriminated against," Clare said.
"They need to have more compassion. What they are doing is so cruel," she added.
Clare and Darren have started a petition in support of Denum, which is said to have collected 400 signatures in two weeks.