In response to my post concluding the Netherlands communions saga, Joe Murray of the Rainbow Sash movement has placed a comment “Join us on Pentecost Sunday“. I’m not sure if this is addressed to me personally, or to my readers as an open invitation. He also does not specify a venue – or even a country. The invitation, however, has merit, so I will treat it as an open invitation, which may be accepted in a range of churches worldwide. This is probably a good time to introduce the Rainbow Sash Movement – for those who do not already know of it.
From the Rainbow Sash website:
The Rainbow Sh Movement had its beginning in England. Nick Holloway was the first GLBT Catholic to wear the Rainbow Sash, a movement was born. The Rainbow Sash then travelled to Australia where it developed into a ecumenical group. It’s leadership was no longer strictly Catholic.
The US Rainbow Sash Movement was founded by Joe Murray, and he became the first US Convener. He honors the founder’s purpose to begin a dialogue within the Church about human sexuality, and the dignity of GLBT people. The US Rainbow Sash Movement has remained a Catholic Organization in membership and leadership. We wear Rainbow Sashes on Pentecost Sunday each year because we understand Pentecost as a celebration of the whole Church. The Bishops response to our form of self identification has been to refuse us the Holy Eucharist. They claim by self identifying we are protesting, so if we remain hidden we can receive the body and blood of Christ. In light of what the Catechism says that homosexual people “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (CCC 2358). There is something morally incoherent about that position.
Some people are concerned that the Rainbow Sash method is confrontational, a concern that I once shared. However, there is a response to this charge. For my own part, I am concerned that in the absence of any structures for quiet, peaceful discussions with ecclesiastical authorities, what else are we to do? When I have attended Mass at my local parish, I have had an uneasy sense of dishonesty involved. I know that I can always attend and receive communions there – because I am anonymous, and my sexuality unknown. But this comes dangerously close to what Siobhan Garrigan described as “passing” – or working on the assumption that others will assume I am straight. I left the closet a long time ago, and have no desire to re-enter it just to keep life easy for the clergy. Besides, I think this kind of camouflage in church is fundamentally dishonest, and one of the key attributes of God, I was taught, is truth.
This is the Rainbow sash response to the complaint of “confrontation”:
The word “confrontation” usually means facing a direct challenge. Some in the Church attribute the wearing of the Rainbow Sash as a form of polemic of opposing
views. The Rainbow Sash Movement (RSM) believes there is a deeper meaning to the wearing of the Rainbow Sash beyond confrontation. Instead it is a direct attempt to have the Rainbow Sash Movement and the Bishops face each other, and attempt to clarify a misunderstanding based on homophobic notions of LGBT People. Clarification not confrontation is at issue when members of the Rainbow Sash Movement wear the Sash at the Cathedral of St. Matthews in Washington DC.
Contrary to some US Bishops the wearing of the Rainbow Sash is neither confrontation/protest or political. It is an attempt to tell our stories outside the framework of homophobia. By misrepresenting the intentions of the Rainbow Sash Movement love is replaced with fear and rejection and has become the sign of the times within the Body of Christ.
Confrontation is a two way process. The Dutch experience (before sanity returned) showed how things can easily go wrong. This 2005 letter from Archbishop Mahoney shows how a diocese can be equally sensible in dealing with the Rainbow Sash. A simple presence at Mass is not confrontational, unless the celebrant chooses to make it so.
Joe Murray the US Convener of the Rainbow Sash Movement was contacted by Tod M. Tamberg, Director of Media Relations, Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The following is that communication:
“May 13, 2005
Just a note to say that, as in the past, members of the Rainbow Sash Movement who come to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels this Sunday will be most welcome to attend any of our Masses. Over the years, Cardinal Roger Mahony has consistently spoken to the faithful in Los Angeles about being respectful and inclusive of our Catholic brothers and sisters who are gay and lesbian. All of us struggle to be better Christians, but I think a good number of our parishes in the archdiocese are places where people feel welcome and included, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Tod M. Tamberg
Director of Media Relations
Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”
My somewhat flippant initial response to Joe’s invitation was to ask “Where?”, but the question is really unnecessary. Rainbow Sash is active in many parts of the world, in cathedrals and smaller local churches, every year on Pentecost Sunday. To find a likely location this year you, you could try signing up on their Facebook page. I would imagine that as the date draws nearer, there will be information posted. Or, sign up as a member at Rainbow Sash Alliance.
Rainbow Sash Facebook page
Rainbow Sash Movement
Rainbow Sash Alliance
Rainbow Sash Australia
- At the Cathedral of St. Paul, Rainbow Sashes and a Circle of Love (thewildreed.blogspot.com)
- Rainbow Sash Movement Blasts Dignity USA For Unwillingness To Challenge Bishop Cantú (lezgetreal.com)
- Gay and Catholic?: No Bread, but a Blessing for You! (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- Despite Anti-Gay Activism of Catholic Hierarchy, Marriage Equality Seems “Poised to Prevail” (thewildreed.blogspot.com)
- Denial of Communion in Minnesota: In Conflict with Church Teachiung. (queering-the-church.com)