Change of Heart in Minneapolis?
Back in December I noted
some interesting inconsistencies emerging in the U.S. bishops' response to the communion protests of the Rainbow Sash Movement
(RSM), a group which wears rainbow sashes to receive communion as a symbolic expression of their desire for homosexual inclusion in the Church. A CNS
article at that time showed how Archbishop Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis had publicly invited the RSM crowd to receive communion in his cathedral, because of his interpretation that the sashes did not signify a protest. At the same time, Cardinal George, now vice-president of the USCCB, saw an inappropriate form of protest and denied them communion. Later that month Flynn visited Cardinal Arinze in the Vatican and discussed the matter. He came away noting
that Arinze had not asked him to change his policy, and that he had no intention of changing it.
A new letter
from Archbishop Flynn to RSM (made public by RSM) lays out a clear change in policy on the part of Flynn. The refreshingly lucid letter seems to indicate two reasons for the change: a perceived increase of aggressiveness on the part of the RSM, and a more direct clarification by the Holy See and the other American bishops (I suppose this would include Cardinals George and McCarrick?):
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.
The National Catholic Register
has an excellent piece on the events, which details some of the more aggressive agitations of the RSM (including an apparent expansion of the use of sashes to protest male-only ordination, etc.), along with more extensive comments
by Cardinal Arinze's office, secured via Barbara Kralis. Whatever Flynn's reasons for changing his policy, it does reflect a broader development in the thinking of the U.S. bishops on pastoral policies surrounding the reception of communion, a subject which may prove to be one of the most symbolic pastoral challenges to the Church in these years.
# posted by Jamie : 9:10 AM