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Sunday, 23 May 2010

@ A CATHOLIC CHURCH NEAR YOU...

This Sunday is going to be a pretty important day. Yes, it's the series finale of Lost. But in the religious world, it's also known as Pentecost Sunday, and for the Rainbow Sash Movement, that's a day dedicated to challenging the institutional Catholic Church's opposition to gay rights.

Their plan? Well, much like their name asserts, scores of LGBT people of faith around the globe will show up to their local Catholic cathedral, dawn a rainbow sash during the liturgy, and try to spark dialogue with both people in the pews, and local clergy, including bishops. Some may even try to take Communion, which in the past has worked out well (Los Angeles, Detroit), and at other times has worked out not so well (Minneapolis/St. Paul).

As the Rainbow Sash Movement notes, the goal is not to protest church services, but to show religious leaders that LGBT people exist within their parishes, and won't stand to be made invisible any longer.

"We can no longer bury our heads and remain silent," the Rainbow Sash Movement writes, "nor can we promote the ideal that somehow our own spiritual comfort is more important than civil rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community."

The thinking goes that if people of faith know we're in their midst, it's a whole lot harder to use theology as a wedge to divide us. Of course, tell that to a few Catholic bishops, particularly the head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George. The good Cardinal doesn't really appreciate the Rainbow Sash Movement, or their work to get people talking about sexual orientation and religion.

Five years ago, Cardinal George instructed priests in his Archdiocese (Chicago) to refuse Communion to wearers of the Rainbow Sash.

"The policy of the U.S. Conference of Bishops is to not give Communion to those wearing the Rainbow Sash," Cardinal George wrote at the time. Word has it that he still stands by those words, too, which is why he'll be a prime target of the Rainbow Sash Movement this coming Sunday, during his 11:00am mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. 

Earlier this year, a group of activists in the Netherlands protested a local Catholic Church, after it denied a prominent gay man in the community Communion. Activists responded in droves, with hundreds of people showing up in pink wigs and clothes during a church service, and walking out during the Communion service.

The man originally denied Communion? According to the BBC, he wanted to deliver a message to Catholic clergy: if you're going to deny Communion to one group of people deemed "sinners," you better be ready to deny Communion to everyone.

Perhaps that's the moral of the story, and the moral behind the Rainbow Sash Movement's action this coming Sunday. Sash it up folks; this Church is a body that needs as much dialogue as possible on the subject of LGBT rights.


6 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for keeping us current; I think so many of us hadn't given the rainbow sash or the church any attention or thought today, not to mention what it all stands for or against. You are so knowledgeable.

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  2. I'm not Catholic so I probably have no right to say anything here, but this type of "Cafeteria Catholicism" where people pick and choose what they will accept from the Church won't really work.

    The Catholic Church has believed in the same stuff for centuries regardless of what certain communities have wanted and it has never changed before and probably won't change in the future, so why keep kicking a dead horse? Why not just move on like Martin Luther and stand for what you believe in your own church.

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  3. I wish we had some movement like this. My country, Philippines, the only catholic country in Asia, is facing the same problem. The only GLBT party-list almost didn't make it to the national election because the catholic bishop sent letters to the supreme court telling such party list shouldn't run into office due to "abnormal objectives" to human kind. the party list was the first and the only group we had so far that bravely raised GLBT issues in national terms. too bad we didn't get enough votes to have a seat in the senate because it was only 3 days before the election we were allowed to campaign for the candidacy..

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