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        Sunday, June 11th.  2000

"Gay Catholics to challenge Church on justice.

“The Catholic Church, which is now the largest private employer in Australia, demands and receives complete exemption from anti-discrimination legislation"  

"The Catholic Church currently demands the right to sack and to refuse to hire any openly Gay person in any capacity whatsoever -- not only as teachers or counselors, but even as cleaners and truck drivers.  The Vatican has stated that it supports legal discrimination against Gay people in housing, employment, the military and in the recognition of Gay relationships.”

 "The Catholic Church claims to be an advocate of justice for marginalised and oppressed groups around the world,” says Rainbow Sash spokesperson, Michael Kelly, "but when it comes to Gay and Lesbian people, the Church leaders themselves are often oppressive and discriminatory. This is an affront to justice and an offence to the Gospel."

 “If the Church is to have any credibility when it speaks on issues of social justice, then it must renounce these exemptions and support Gay people in our struggle for full civil and human rights", he says. 

A group of gay Catholics wearing Rainbow Sashes will present themselves for Holy Communion in St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne this Sunday at the 11am Mass. It is expected that Archbishop George Pell will publicly refused them the Sacrament. The group, known as The Rainbow Sash Movement is challenging the Catholic Church to live up to it's own rhetoric of justice. 

Rainbow Sash wearers attracted national attention last year when they challenged the Church over it's treatment of gay youth, prompting Archbishop George Pell's comments that "Homosexuality is a much more grave health hazard than smoking."  

Kelly says it is time the Australian Catholic Church faced the homophobia and prejudice within its own ranks and made a public commitment to listen to Gay people.  "The bishops must come down from their thrones, lay aside their rhetoric and ideology, and meet gay people as fellow human beings who suffer injustice on a daily basis -- much of it coming from so-called "Christian" or "Catholic" people.

"We have to find a new way forward beyond the stereotypes and pious abuse.  We are ready to talk openly and publicly with the church's leaders.  Do they have the courage and integrity to listen?"

 Sunday’s action is being supported by the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights lobby, and a spokesperson, Kenton Miller will be present and address sash wearers after the Mass.

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