Gay Catholics in the US have labelled George Pell’s response to Sydney’s Rainbow Sash Movement (RSM) last Sunday as antagonistic and ridiculous.
The comments came from American members of the RSM who, unlike their Aus-tralian counterparts, were granted Holy Communion by Archbishops in four US cities on Sunday.
The impression [in America] is that Pell is 25 to 30 years behind the rest of the world, Brian McNeill, a member of the Minneapolis Rainbow Sash told Sydney Star Observer.
Meanwhile, the Sydney RSM has announced that they are considering an appeal to the Papal Nuncio over the actions of Pell and his Melbourne counterpart Dennis Hart.
In a prepared statement justifying his refusal of Com-munion to RSM members, delivered to the congregation at St Mary’s on Sunday, Pell argued that homosexual acts are contrary to the natural law [because] they close the sexual act to the gift of life.
Pell also reintroduced the clich?oined by anti-gay campaigner Anita Bryant in 1977 that God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
McNeill said that American Catholics hadn’t heard such language from Church leaders in decades.
The bishops here are too smart to say that kind of thing because they know just how antagonistic and insulting that is to a lot of people -“ not just to gay people, to society.
The RSM spread from Australia to America two years ago, but unlike local Catholic leaders, archbishops in New York, Rochester, Chicago and Minneapolis decided to grant the Eucharist to sash wearers this year.
However, Church acceptance of the RSM has not taken off at home. While Archbishop Hart offered a blessing to sash wearers at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday, Archbishop Pell stated simply I can’t help you to the 20 sash wearers who presented themselves for Communion at St Mary’s.
[Pell’s response] is an empty response from a Christian leader at the start of the 21st century to an issue as complex as sexuality, RSM’s Australian spokesperson Michael Kelly told the Star. His tone was a tone of rebuke. There was no sense of warmth, understanding, or compassion in the way he handled the issue, Kelly said.
Kelly added that the RSM in Australia might appeal to the Papal Nuncio because of the seriousness of being denied Communion.
It is an extremely serious sanction in Church life and is very rarely imposed. Therefore, finding that there are other cardinals and archbishops taking a different approach in America is somewhat confusing and we are considering taking the issue to the highest authority in the Church.
Gene Janowski, member of the Chicago Rainbow Sash Movement, told the Star that the RSM was allowed to take Communion this year after Chicago’s Cardinal George denied it to sash wearers in 2001.
I believe that he has come around because he knows who we [the RSM] are now. After we were denied Communion last year, Cardinal George asked us to meet with him to discuss the situation. We very much appreciated the fact that he initiated the discussion, Janowski said.
We asked the cardinal to address violence against gay men and lesbians and discussed starting a ministry to welcome back gay and lesbian people to the parish. He thought those were both very good ideas.
Janowski described the Adam and Steve argument used by Archbishop Pell as an embarrassment.
Anita Bryant made a fool out of herself by saying that in public in the first place. Now your archbishop is doing it too, he said. We perceive that Australia has a very different Church and we perceive Pell as not being a very good man. The things he said to the congregation on Sunday sound ridiculous to us.