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May 31st 1998

"GAY CATHOLICS TO TAKE A STAND
 IN ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE"

 On Sunday, May 31St, a group of Gay Catholics and their supporters will attend Pentecost Sunday Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, wearing Rainbow sashes, proclaiming that their sexuality is a “Sacred Gift”. Some members of the group will seek Holy Communion from Archbishop George Pell.  

The convenors of the group have written “Open Letters” to Pope John Paul 11 and to the Catholic Church, calling for education programs in schools and parishes, for the freedom for gay clergy to “Come Out”, and for an Ecumenical Council of the entire Church to discuss human sexuality as a whole.  

On May 31St, the group will be joined by family members and friends who will also wear Rainbow Sashes, becoming “Lesbian and Gay for a Day”, and being ready to face rejection by the Church, side by side with those they love.  

Spokesperson, Mr. Michael Kelly, who was a religious educator in the Catholic Church for 17 years, stressed the dignified, peaceful nature of this Sunday’s action: “We want to stand in the Church with dignity, quiet strength and self-respect, calling the Church to open dialogue and a change of heart. This is an act of prayer, not just a protest. We will come forward reverently, but refusing to be invisible any longer.“ 

This Sunday’s action follows the refusal of Communion to three gay men late last year. The three men – one of them a Catholic priest –were refused Communion by Archbishop Pell in November 1997 when they wore Rainbow Sashes to Mass, proclaiming their homosexuality. One of the men – Mr. David Barker – will again take part this Sunday. He comments: “Despite all the good work done by the Church, there is still a culture of homophobia and discrimination that does incredible damage to individuals. In society as a whole, the Church’s attitude provides a foundation for widespread prejudice and abuse. This must be challenged”

 Mr. Kelly agrees: “It’s time for the Church to learn to listen.

                        Let’s open the doors and let in some fresh air!”

The Mass is as 11.00am Sunday, May 31st.  

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