Page 3, 5th December 1997

5th December 1997
Page 3
Page 3, 5th December 1997 — Mass is no place for demos, says Hume

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Organisations: Church of Jesus Christ


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CARDINAL HUME has told a group of campaigning homosexuals — who appeared at a Mass on Sunday wearing multicoloured sashes to indicate their sexual orientation — that it is "fundamentally wrong" to use Holy Communion as an occasion for a public statement.

Nicholas Holloway and his friend Fr Julian Ahern wrote to the Cardinal last week explaining that they would be wearing "rainbow sashes" at the Solemn Sung Mass at Westminster Cathedral last Sunday to denote the homosexual orientation of the wearers. Instead of receiving Communion, they received a blessing from the celebrant, Fr Philip Whitmore.

"We are calling lesbian and gay Catholics to wear the rainbow sash so that homosexual people can be welcomed and celebrated as part of God's family, especially in Holy Communion," say Mr Holloway and Fr Ahem in the letter. "We are calling homosexual clergy and church leaders to have the confidence to be publicly gay."

The authors of the letter were anxious to explain to the Cardinal that, unlike on a previous occasion, the sashes "will never tell you if the person who wears it is celibate or sexually active". However, in his reply, Cardinal Hume said it was "fundamentally wrong to use a solemn occasion — such as receiving Holy Communion — to make a point in a public manner about one's sexuality, either its orientation or practice".

He went on: "I notice now that your wearing of the rainbow sash is to declare 'I'm homosexual' and not 'I am a practising homosexual'. I think it is not right for us to parade our sexual orientation in this way. We do not judge people by their sexuality. You are worth a lot in the eyes of God, in the eyes of the Church and in my eyes, because you are a human being. Whether you are homosexual in orientation is of no consequence in judging you."

The Cardinal added that the Church has not, and never would, refuse Holy Communion to persons whose sexual orientation was homosexual, but if they were practising, "other problems would arise".

Commenting on Sunday's Mass, Mgr George Stack, Administrator of the Cathedral, said: "The act of receivMg Holy Communion is actually embracing Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ. If you decide to dissent or fail to live up to that teaching you commit sin. The remedy for that is Confession."

Mr Holloway said he and Fr Ahern, who had travelled from Australia specially, were "disappointed". However, he added that the Cardinal was "a great man".

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