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MEDIA RELEASE - 7 May 1998

GAYS MORE WELCOME IN CANBERRA CATHEDRAL, THAN MELBOURNE

but still no Communion

Today at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra, lesbian and gay people and their heterosexual supporters were denied the sacrament of Holy Communion, by Bishop Power.  The people were wearing a rainbow sash when Communion was refused.

Spokesperson for the Rainbow Sash, Mr John Davey said he was devastated
by the rejection in the cathedral. 

“For many of the non gay and lesbian people it was their first experience of being shunned on the basis of their sexuality - it was just awful seeing their anguish.”

“The church has not engaged in an act of love, compassion or understanding,” said Mr Davey. “It is an act of bigotry and homophobia to reject someone for the way God made them,” he added.

The demonstration of gay and lesbian pride follows a similar action at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne last week, where ultra conservative Archbishop, Dr George Pell refused communion to 60 people on the grounds that the sash represented a confrontation with the church.

“I was incensed by Dr Pell’s misconstruction of the sash,” said Mr Davey.  “Lesbian and Gay people want to engaged in constructive dialogue with the church on issues of human sexual identity, but Dr Pell just slammed the door in their face.  I am encouraged by the statements of Bishop Power, who has indicated a willingness to enter into dialogue with us.” He added.

During the Mass Bishop Power stated that homosexual people were welcome at St Christopher’s, but that he could not offer them communion as the sash indicated a confrontation with the church’s teachings.

“I am glad to see here in my home town of Canberra, that I can find a more constructive and compassionate leadership in the church, I will certainly be taking up the Bishop’s kind offer of dialogue in the coming weeks.”

After the Mass, Bishop Power greeted members who were wearing the Rainbow Sash and invited members of the congregation to do the same, which many people did.  Bishop Power also thanked the wearers of the sash for the peaceful and respectful way in which they conducted themselves during the service.

“This was in stark contrast with the homophobic statement read by Archbishop Pell last Sunday and the spontaneous applause immediately afterwards.  I look forward to meeting the Bishop in the coming weeks.” He concluded.

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