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 Holy Communion.

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