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Vatican official backs communion ban for sash-wearers

The Vatican's top liturgy official has said that Rainbow Sash wearers disqualify themselves from receiving Holy Communion because they are demonstrating their opposition to church teaching on homosexuality.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, made the comment in a written response to Catholic News Service last week.

Rainbow Sash, an organisation of gay and lesbian Catholics and their families and friends, has criticised church statements on homosexuality, including the church's teaching that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" and that homosexual orientation is "objectively disordered." To underline their point, the group's members sometimes attend Mass and receive Communion wearing the sash.

Actions began in Australia and the UK several years ago. Cardinal George Pell said in 2002 that a person who publicly defines himself at any given time as supporting or practising activities contrary to church teaching in a serious matter is not entitled to receive holy communion.

Recently Rainbow Sash has been more active in the US. Cardinal Arinze discussed the issue with at least one US archbishop during US bishops' visits to the Vatican in 2004. A Catholic Web site recently reported that in a private communication, Cardinal Arinze's secretary said the cardinal thought sash wearers should not receive Communion.

At Vatican meeting, experts debate if brain-dead means death (Catholic News Service 4/2/05)

Archbishop speaks to Vatican officials about Rainbow Sash protests (Catholic News Service 14/12/04)
Communion and Denial (ABC Radio The Religion Report 22/5/02)
Free Speech is a Sin (Online Catholics 2/2/05)

Pell comments after confrontation with gay group (CathNews 20/5/02)

Vatican Official Affirms Rainbow Sash Gay Activists Not to be Admitted to Communion (Lifesite 25/1/05)

7 Feb 2005