A news snippet from the Netherlands.
I’m trying to find out more. The bit that intrigues me, is that “minister” Luc Buyens decided, after talking to the bishop, “not to give anyone at the service communion”, so as “not to discriminate”
Monday 22 February 2010
A number of openly homosexual practising Catholics will attend a service at the St Jan basilica in Den Bosch next Sunday to directly challenge a bishop on giving communion to gay men and women.
The protest follows the refusal of minister Luc Buyens to give communion to an openly gay man who had been elected carnival prince in his home town of Reusel.
The carnival blessing is a traditional part of the festivities.
After talks with the bishop, Buyens decided not to give anyone at the service communion. ‘I do not want to discriminate,’ he was reported as saying.
UPDATE: Here is a fuller report, from Radio Netherlands Worldwide – but this has no reference to the non-discrimination.
A Catholic priest in the south of the Netherlands has stirred up controversy by refusing to allow the local Prince Carnival to receive Communion because he is openly gay. Father Luc Buyens of the small town of Reusel took his stand at last Saturday’s Carnival Mass.
Carnival is a major public holiday in the southern Netherlands: shops and schools close and normal life grinds to a halt for three days of fun and festivities. An important part of the tradition is the election of a Prince Carnival, often a prominent member of the local community, to lead the Carnival celebrations. This year in Reusel, the honour fell to openly gay resident Gijs Vermeulen, who made no secret of his five-year relationship with his partner Michael in the weeks leading up to the celebrations.
Both the Catholic church and Carnival are very much part of the social fabric in the Netherlands’ southern provinces. The two are closely linked, since the Carnival festivities mark the start of Lent, a Christian period of fasting and renunciation leading up to Easter.
In his capacity as Prince Carnival, Gijs Vermeulen was due to address the congregation at the Carnival Mass and then lead them to receive Communion. But one week before the festivities were due to start, Father Buyens called Gijs to tell him that he would not allow him to take the sacrament. The Catholic Church officially condemns homosexuality and priests can refuse to administer the sacraments to practising homosexuals, though the Dutch clergy rarely do so.
“I was on the phone with him for almost half an hour,” Gijs Vermeulen explained to Dutch gay magazineGaykrant. “I told him we’re not living in the 14th century anymore but he wasn’t prepared to change his position.”
In the end, Mr Vermeulen attended the mass because he did not want to spoil the celebrations, but he continued his discussion with the church on Thursday. “I want to be treated the same as everyone else,” he insists. “I’m a Catholic. I made my first Communion and took Confirmation.”
The renewed discussion has not brought the two sides any closer together. After his conversation with Father Buyens, Mr Vermeulen told the press that he accepts that the church is entitled to exercise its rules, but he is saddened by the nature of those rules.
This may not be the final word on the controversy. Today’s AD newspaper reports that a Labour councillor from a nearby town has called on the gay community to protest at the church in Reusel until the priest admits the error of his ways. Both Father Buyens and Gijs Vermeulen have declined to comment on the initiative.
Indeed, there were protests:
Dozens of people protested outside the Roman Catholic church in the Dutch town Reusel on Sunday. The local priest, Father Luc Buyens, denied communion to an openly gay churchgoer at a service earlier last week. His actions have led to a storm of criticism.
The protesters, led by town council member Dick Boonman, handed out pink triangles to people attending Sunday mass. Several Christian gays had travelled to Reusel to attend the mass. The priest consequently decided not to administer communion to anyone attending the service.
After the service, Father Buyens explained he was still determined to hold his ground on the matter. “A referee on a soccer field does not discuss his decisions with a player who exhibits problematic behaviour,” he commented.
- Denial of Communion in Minnesota: In Conflict with Church Teachiung. (queering-the-church.com)
- DIY Catholicism, Europe: Breakaway Parishes in Belgium, Netherlands – Catholic, Not Roman (queering-the-church.com)
- Give Thanks For This Kairos Moment of LGBT Inclusion (queeringthechurch.wordpress.com)
- “Communion” and Catholics for Equality (queering-the-church.com)