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 CNS Story:

FLYNN-SASH Jan-27-2005 (350 words) With photos posted Dec. 14 and Jan. 27. xxxn

Archbishop says Vatican wants uniform approach to gay rights group

By Catholic News Service

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- A Vatican official has recommended that U.S. bishops adopt a uniform pastoral approach for ministering to members of Rainbow Sash, a gay rights group, said Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

Archbishop Flynn allows members wearing the sash to receive Communion, while some other bishops do not.

In a Jan. 26 statement, Archbishop Flynn said he met in mid-December with Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, to discuss "the difficult pastoral situation" of Rainbow Sash.

Cardinal Arinze "did not in fact suggest an immediate change to the policy in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis," Archbishop Flynn said in his statement.

"However, he did clearly indicate that this situation merits further study and that ideally all of the bishops who have pastoral care for the members of this movement should seek to adopt a uniform approach," the statement said. "This recommendation needs to be reviewed by those bishops involved in the near future."

Archbishop Flynn said he was issuing the statement to clarify remarks he made in an interview with Catholic News Service in December.

In the December CNS interview, Archbishop Flynn said it was recognized that U.S. bishops have come to different conclusions about how to respond to Rainbow Sash members who present themselves for Communion, but he said he got no sense that the Vatican was pushing for a single policy on this.

The church teaches that homosexual acts are contrary to natural law and that the homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered." It also teaches that homosexuals must be accepted with love and respect and that they not be discriminated against.

Some bishops, like Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, have denied the Eucharist to Rainbow Sash members on the grounds that they were using the Eucharist to manifest opposition to church teaching.

On previous occasions, Archbishop Flynn has said that sash-wearers would not be denied Communion because members of the movement had assured him in writing that their presence at Mass was not in protest of church teachings.


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