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June 1st 2001



Gay and lesbian Catholics wearing the "Rainbow Sash" will seek Communion at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, on Pentecost Sunday, June 3 at 11:00am Mass. Without George Pell as Archbishop, it is not known how Church authorities will respond. Family members and friends will join them in this annual action for justice.
  The Melbourne diocese is without an Archbishop, and it is expected that administrator Bishop Denis Hart, who is being widely tipped as the new archbishop, will celebrate the Mass on this Sunday, which is one of the most solemn feast days in the Church.
   "The whole church in Melbourne is just catching its breath after 5 years of George Pell's hard-line approach", said Michael Kelly, spokesperson for the group. "There is need for healing, for a new openness to gay people, women, divorced people, and the issues of the modern  world. It is time for understanding and dialogue. The Catholic people need to know they will be listened to and welcomed in their own Church."
  In accord with recent practice, the Melbourne Diocese is waiting for the Vatican to appoint a new archbishop. Mr Kelly says this contradicts the traditional practice of involving the local people in choosing their own bishop. "The idea of waiting for a distant authority to impose a bishop on the local Church goes against more than 1,000 years of Catholic tradition. It is the people of Melbourne who form the Church community here. We have a traditional right to help choose our own bishop."
  "We must re-claim the Church", he continued, "and make it a community of justice and liberation."
The group is calling on Melbourne's parish councils, religious orders, parish priests, school principals, teachers, theologians, pastoral workers and all Catholics to make public statements and initiate policies that welcome and affirm gay and lesbian people.
  "We must all take responsibility for the future of the Church. We have been sheep for too long. It is time for the people of God to find their voice and their courage. We must show our leaders, present and future, that discrimination and exclusion offend against the Gospel and insult human dignity. We must lead the way towards a renewed Church where everyone will be welcome.


                For the first time this year Gay Catholics will also wear the Rainbow Sash in four Cathedrals in the United States - Chicago, Minneapolis/St Paul, Rochester NY, and Dallas. "The power of the call for justice cannot be stopped" said Mr Kelly. "This symbol is moving around the world, inspiring new hope and a new vision of what the Church can be. And it is happening among the people - where all the real movements for change begin. It is time to reclaim our Church".

 Pentecost Sunday June 3rd. 11:00 am Mass
 St Patrick's Cathedral Melbourne

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