Archbishop John Neinstedt has made a hard choice – the right choice – and I think it’s important we show our support for him:
About 25 college students and community members at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., were denied communion by Twin Cities Roman Catholic Archbishop John C. Nienstedt because they were displaying rainbow buttons and sashes in protest of the church’s stand on gay relationships.
The conflict between the archbishop and the group, mostly students from the Catholic St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, occurred during evening mass Sept. 26. [Star Tribune]
Archbishop Neindstedt did deny them Communion, but he also offered the protesters a blessing.
The Cardinal Newman Society blog explains the firm tradition in the local Church of refusing Communion to Rainbow Sash Movement wearers:
An archdiocesan spokesman said that the Church has said “for years you cannot receive communion if you wear the rainbow sash, because it’s a political statement, a sign of protest. Going to the communion rail is the most sacred part of our faith, the eucharist. We don’t allow anybody to make political statements or any kind of protest.”
Interestingly, then-prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, Francis Cardinal Arinze, expressed his opinion on the subject in a 2005 private letter obtained by Renew America. His sectretary wrote: “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.” [Here is a photocopy of the letter.]
The really disturbing thing about this story is that a local priest is being disobedient and offered Communion to the protesters afterwards! [In an earlier draft of this post I claimed that Fr. McGraw is directly under the authority of Abp. Nienstedt. He is not.]
The Rev. Rene McGraw, a professor of philosophy at St. John’s, said he held a short Mass for the small group later the same night in which he served all of them Communion. He took issue with the archdiocese’s interpretation of canon law when it comes to who can receive Communion. [Associated Press]
Fr. McGraw would do well to observe what Canon Law has to say about being obedient to the bishop and not causing scandal among Catholics. Disgraceful.
As you can see, Abp. Nienstedt especially needs our support. That’s why CatholicVote.org is encouraging you to show your support for the Archbishop. As you know, the media loves to give coverage to people who protest the Church. Let’s answer back: “I support Archbishop Nienstedt!“