The 'Rainbow Sash Movement' Controversy
By Matt Abbott
With Pentecost Sunday (May 15) approaching, members and supporters of the homosexual activist Rainbow Sash Movement have announced they once again "will be entering cathedrals and parishes around the nation" on that day, according to a May 2, 2005 press release.
Consider the following related situation that took place several months ago:
In Dec. 2003, a group of 23 Chicago priests sent a letter to Francis Cardinal George lamenting the Vatican's alleged mistreatment of homosexuals. Six months later, one of the co-signers of that letter, the Rev. Nicholas Desmond, sent another letter to the cardinal expressing his "disappointment" about the cardinal's decision to refuse Holy Communion to members of the Rainbow Sash Movement.
Desmond's letter, which was posted on the group's website, stated, in part: "...while you might know what the sash fully means, the sash itself, as pictured on the web site, is not a public statement denying the Church's teaching. I believe that most people will have no idea what it entails. For many, it will probably mean no more than the sash worn by the Knights of Columbus or the Altar and Rosary Society. For others, it may symbolize that the person is gay and nothing more. And, as you know, being gay does not make you a public sinner nor a dissident from Church teaching. You conclusion denying such persons the Eucharist presumes both a statement and an understanding which cannot be construed from the facts at hand...."
The letter, along with some commentary, was published in its entirety on CatholicCitizens.org, the website of Catholic Citizens of Illinois, an organization "working for a restoration of traditional Catholic values to the public life of Illinois. Through effective, non-partisan programs, Catholic Citizens of Illinois is actively addressing American culture and public policy from a perspective formed in strict fidelity to the Magisterium and in loyalty to the bishops and Pope John Paul II."
In an e-mail dated Dec. 29, 2004, Desmond responded to the commentary as follows:
"I was doing a Google search and found your web site with a page referring to a letter I had sent to the cardinal concerning the Pentecost Rainbow Sash Movement. While I appreciate the publicity, I would certainly appreciate it if you actually read what I wrote instead of editorializing and condemning me beforehand. If you choose to look carefully at my words, at no time did I support any anti-Catholic teaching or behavior. As of this writing, I am a Catholic pastor in good standing with the Archdiocese of Chicago, I have not been reprimanded for anything I wrote in that letter to the cardinal and I see no reason for you to be maligning my name.
"In addition, your utter failure to understand the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its teaching on homosexuality and homosexual persons brings you dangerously close to apostasy. The Catechism is quite clear that homosexual persons are not to be the targets of bigotry by Catholics, even though the sins of homosexual relations should be condemned at all times. Furthermore, you really should stop tossing about the word 'sodomite' so freely in reference to homosexual acts since it technically refers to only one kind of sin which can be performed by heterosexuals as well as homosexuals (and is condemned for both groups since it is not a generative sexual act). Finally, I suggest that you go to confession and ask God to cleanse your souls and mouths of the malicious way you speak of His ordained priests. My wrist is not so 'limp' as to keep me from absolving you of your horribly vile words, should you choose to repent."
Karl Maurer, vice president and web editor of Catholic Citizens of Illinois, issued the following response, dated Jan. 21, 2005:
"I have no intention of debating your letter posted on Rainbow Sash's web site. Their agenda is well known to both of us and it has nothing to do with the core teachings of the Church. Your agenda, evidently, is more mysterious. I frequently attend confession, as I know I will be judged on my integrity, which is the consistency of thought, word and deed in the service of God. With all due respect sir, you do not meet that standard in my opinion. If you had studied the cardinal's comments more carefully, and without the obvious biases you have toward the homosexual lifestyle, you would see his comments were made with great clarity and charity. As for your good standing in the Roman Catholic Church, you are entitled to your own opinions."
Desmond responded to Maurer's e-mail on Jan. 23:
"I am not seeking a debate -- an apology from you would be more appropriate. Again, you choose to attack me ('you do not meet that standard') without knowing me. You should also only use the words 'with all due respect' when you actually respect the person with whom you speak. Your letter suggests that you do not respect me even though you do not know me. Furthermore, my standing in the Catholic Church is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact.
"I am listed in the archdiocesan directory as pastor of St. Aloysius. I have identification and letters from the archdiocese stating that I am a priest in good standing and should be accorded the dignity of my priesthood wherever I may be. That you would question such easily proved facts shows that you are not indeed a faithful son of the Church, but a deviant rogue pretending that the Church is anything you want it to be, and not what the Holy Father and the Magisterium have declared it to be. Does your pride have no bounds? I don't know what you mean by 'frequently' attending confession, but it seems that you have replaced the virtue of charity with the sin of pride. Perhaps you need a new confessor.
"I was at the Presbyteral Council meeting when the cardinal made his comments about not using the Eucharist as a stick to punish people and I applauded him at that time. You were not there. Instead of the childish ad hominem attack about my 'obvious biases' toward the homosexual lifestyle, you should consider the matter as I do: the gravity [of] ignoring pro-abortionists while pre-judging homosexual persons without regard to the actual lives they live. Though it is not peculiar to you, it is your particular sin to attack others instead of listening to the argument. Read John's Gospel, Chapter 9, in order to see yourself exposed by Jesus. When you do, then your confession will be worth hearing."
The official teaching of the Church on the subject of homosexuality, as stated by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is as follows:
"Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (n. 2357)
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition" (n. 2358).
Also, in a July 1992 letter to the U.S. Catholic bishops, the Vatican asserted (excerpt):
"10. 'Sexual orientation' does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc. in respect to non-discrimination. Unlike these, homosexual orientation is an objective disorder.
"11. There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, for example, in the consignment of children to adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or coaches, and in military recruitment.
"12. Homosexual persons, as human persons, have the same rights as all persons including that of not being treated in a manner which offends their personal dignity. Among other rights, all persons have the right to work, to housing, etc. Nevertheless, these rights are not absolute. They can be legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct. This is sometimes not only licit but obligatory. This would obtain moreover not only in the case of culpable behavior but even in the case of actions of the physically or mentally ill. Thus it is accepted that the state may restrict the exercise of rights, for example, in the case of contagious or mentally ill persons, in order to protect the common good."
Also, in a Jan. 15, 2005 letter to Catholic journalist and commentator Barbara Kralis, the secretary for Francis Cardinal Arinze, prefect for the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, had this to say:
"Rainbow Sash wearers, the cardinal says, are showing their opposition to Church teaching on a major issue of natural law and so disqualify themselves from being given Holy Communion."
Matt Abbott - Author,
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