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May 16, 2002          For Immediate Release   





Sydney Gay Catholics, for the first time, will seek Communion from Archbishop George Pell,
 and call for Church reform.


Melbourne Gay Catholics will continue to seek Communion from Archbishop Hart, and call for Church reform

 On Sunday May 19, Pentecost Sunday, Gay and Lesbian Catholics will wear the Rainbow Sash,
at 10:30 am Mass in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney,
 AND at the Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne,  at 11am.

They will seek Holy Communion from Archbishop George Pell in Sydney and Archbishop Hart in Melbourne. This will be the first time the Rainbow Sash has been worn in Sydney, and it is expected that e Archbishop Pell will refuse Communion to those who wear it.

"The Rainbow Sash is a symbol of dignity and pride", said Michael B Kelly, the movement's spokesperson. "It proclaims that we are gay and lesbian people who embrace our sexuality as a gift from God. In wearing it we call the Church to enter into open dialogue with us, and to seek a new appreciation of human sexuality in all of its diversity and beauty".  

"It is time for gay Catholics to stand up for themselves, " Mr Kelly continued. "We have been invisible for too long. We have to challenge the church-sanctioned stereotypes, condemnations and prejudice that have been the source of oppression and persecution for centuries. We must not allow new generations of gay youth to be oppressed in the name of God. We have to reverently claim our place in the Church, call for change and offer the witness of our lives and our loving to a Church that desperately needs a new vision of human sexuality right across the board." 

            Kelly added that in the light of recent crisis over sex-abuse and cover-ups within the Church, it is undeniable that a searching and honest conversation about human sexuality must take place within Catholicism. "For too long Church leaders have refused to listen to the ordinary People of God, and instead imposed a culture of control, repression and secrecy. The only way forward is open and honest dialogue, and gay and lesbian people must play a crucial role in that process. We could teach the Church a lot, because we have already had to listen to our hearts, learn from one another and take responsibility for our lives and our souls. In other words, we have had to grow up spiritually through an honest integration of our sexuality. The Church needs to do the same".

            The Rainbow Sash Movement began in Melbourne in 1997 and it has since spread to 7 major cities in the United States and attracted close attention and comment around the world. On May 19 the Sash will be worn in both Melbourne and Sydney for the first time.

            Rainbow Sash wearers will attend the Pentecost Sunday Mass in St Mary's Cathedral at 10:30 am on May 19. They will attend 11:00 am Mass in St Patrick's Cathedral Melbourne on the same day.

Spokespersons will be available for comment outside each cathedral after Mass.


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