May 2, 2005
Mr. Brian McNeil
Rainbow Sash Alliance USA
3123 22nd Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Dear Mr. McNeil,
You first wrote to me in 2001 about the presence of people wearing the
"rainbow sash" to Masses in the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Because
you assured me that the act of wearing such a sash was not a denial of
church teaching, I have not interfered with anyone's desire to receive
Brian, it has become apparent to me that the wearing of the sash is
more and more perceived as a protest against church teaching.
Such a perception has been heightened by the explicit statements to
this end made in other parts of the United States. Locally,
people wearing the sash did not honor Father Talbot's request to remove
the sash prior to receiving the Eucharist. Brian, the fact that
you personally chose to confront Father Talbot after that Mass confirms
the adversarial nature of your appearance at the Mass. Finally,
the Vatican has communicated to me that it does indeed consider the
wearing of the Rainbow Sash during reception of Communion to be
unacceptable, a directive that I believe all Bishops will adhere to.
Therefore, this is to notify you and the other members of the Minnesota
Rainbow Sash group that I am asking you to remove your sashes before
you receive Holy Communion. I ask you to observe this sign of
respect for the Eucharist not only in the Cathedral but in all our
parishes. No one wearing the sash will be permitted to receive
the Blessed Sacrament.
In closing, I want to reiterate that the stated policy of the Catholic
Church and of this Archdiocese is to be welcoming to baptized Catholics
of all backgrounds, including those with same sex
orientation. The criterion for reception of the Eucharist
is the same for all - recipients must be in a state of Grace and free
from Mortal sin. While the decision for that judgment rests with
an individual Catholic's conscience, it has never been nor is it now
acceptable for a communicant to use the reception of Communion as an
act of protest.
Brian, in the past you have assured me of your desire to advance the
unity of the Church. Counting on that, I trust that you and your
members will honor my request. I invite you not to use Pentecost
as a cause celebre that creates further disruption and damages the
communion of our Church.
With blessings and good wishes, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Harry H. Flynn, D.D.
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis