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May 05, 2005


Rich Leonardi

It remains to be seen whether the bishops in Detroit, Los Angeles, Rochester, NY, and Saint Cloud will follow Archbishop Flynn's lead.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Clark. In 2004 when asked whether he would deny communion to pro-abortion politicians, he said, "I can't imagine denying anyone communion."


If I read Abp. Flynn's letter correctly, it appears that the protesters are welcome to wear the Rainbow Sashes all through the Mass, thereby publicly protesting Church teachings, but are then welcome to receive communion anyway if they remove the sash when they go forward to do so. Then, after receiving, they can put their sashes right back on again.

If, as the Archbishop claims, the problem is "that the wearing of the sash is more and more perceived as a protest against church teaching," I don't think his letter quite solves the problem.

Rather, it looks like an attempt on his part to do as little as possible, without openly defying the Vatican directive.


From Mr. McNeill's April 10, 2005, letter to Apb. Flynn, which the Archbishop was responding to in the linked letter:

I cannot speak for all lgbt Roman Catholics, but all those I know sincerely do believe their gay sexuality is from God, and hence a gift; a grace, if you will. At a minimum, it makes no sense for a priest to request a fellow Catholic to remove a symbol celebrating one of God’s gifts before receiving communion. It would make more sense for the cathedral staff to hand out the Rainbow Sash than it is to ask those who are celebrating to remove it, if one of the purposes of Mass is to thank God for the many gifts She has given to us. Asking us to remove the Rainbow Sash before communion is like asking a newly ordained priest to take off his stole before communion.

The full text is at http://www.rainbowsashallianceusa.org/ToFlynn05.htm

Zhou De-Ming

If the priests wore this chasuble and this stole, would it help to minimize the impact of the fasion accessories for the protestors?


Hey now, that stole is "authentic Kente Cloth handwoven in Ghana."

Then again, it doesn't say whether it's official Fair Trade (TM) merchandize, though ... maybe I'd better wait until unemployed Sandanistas take up weaving.

Mary Russell

Now if only he would allow Regnum Christi to operate in his archdiocese again.

Zhou De-Ming

More seriously, I was kind of amazed at all the interpretations and traditions I've seen and read about "Pentecost" among American Catholics. For example:

- parish leaders asking everyone to wear red; never seen such an ugly collection of old guys in ratty red sweaters, and women in ill fitted red dresses, as on Pentecost at my parish. Ick. (Make rainbow sashes look like a reasonable alternative)

- asking everyone to pull out their key rings and other noise makers and jangle them during liturgy. Huh? (well, at least they don't encourage other junior high ways for the congregation to make the sound of "a mighty wind.")

- talk about "the birthday of the church" (and what was the resurrection?)

- talk about "diversity" based on many languages; seems rather unbalanced as all the folks in the crowd heard the same thing--and it was about Jesus, not our diversity. If anything, it seems to me that Pentecost REVERSES the diversity that came in at Babel. Of course I "get" by the Rainbow Sash folks pick this day, rather than say Easter, to make their statment. I just think it reflects a common but deficient understanding of Pentecost.

- talk about "ministries," based on all those receiving tongues of flame. Especially popular with folks promoting lay ministries, pushing for women's ordination, etc.

Wasn't it once the tradition that Pentecost was a day of ordinations, of specific, obedient, dignified celebrations of apostolic, priestly ministry to God's Church and the world? Where did that go?

What do Catholics learn about the meaning of Pentecost?

Yann The Frenchman


"Pentecost REVERSES the diversity that came in at Babel". Maybe it is obvious for others, but this is a great insight (Emmaus-like eye opening).

Another "reversal" could be:

Gethsemane reverses the sin that came in Eden



At my sister's Lutheran church (an utterly magnificent and truly catholic building with beautiful woodcarvings of the Blessed Mother, St. John and praying angels on either side of the crucifix) they decorate the sanctuary with red geraniums on Pentecost. The effect is really quite lovely.


Archbishop Flynn's new policy would seem to be the same as Cardinal George's policy in Chicago. Not bulletproof, but I don't think it has to be. Any Rainbow Sasher that takes off their sash just to receive Communion is easily seen as not a "real" Sasher, they want to be DEFFIANT after all! I predict that some of them will indeed take off the sash just for Communion (and then probably talk to the press afterwards with regret at how they are so "oppressed" or something), but that the majority of them will simply get rebellious and stand up proudly after Communion to show the world how they were "mistreated." It's their moment to shine, and they'll milk it for all its worth. Now, what happens next year and the years after that is another question, I doubt you will see much of the Rainbow Sashers anymore, the same way you hardly hear about the Sashers in Chicago and Washington D.C. anymore, other than small blurbs about how they were denied again. Nothing like the long drawn out publicity that they've enjoyed all these years as they "battled" the "good fight."


Oh, and there is also a statement that the Archdiocese sent out to all the parishes, and which will be stuffed in the Cathedral's bulletins this weekend -- this statement goes into more detail about the policy, notably that it also covers "Other groups" and sashes or items that are in denial of Church teaching (which would cover the purple sash issue that the Rainbow Sash movement recently supported for women's ordination).

As soon as I get a copy I will post it on my blog, unless someone else gets on up first.

Oh, and as for St. Cloud diocese, I would think that it is highly likely that their policy will also change to reflect St. Paul's -- if not this year then next year.

Who knows about Mahoney or the others...

David R.

It would be hard for a priest to single out rainbow sashers and then remember who's who when they come up for communion without their sashes.

john hearn

I also see no practical way that a priest or EM could tell who was sporting a sash back in the pew when they came up to receive Communion - it would be an unenforceable rule to say that those who wore their sashes into the church couldn't receive.

Isn't it amazing how so many of our bishops seem to be discovering the joys of orthodoxy with the election of BXVI? To my mind, most dissenters in the Church are more concerned for their jobs than for their theology. The very idea that there may be some sort of threat to the former send them scurrying away from the latter! It will be interesting to see how my Archbishop, Mahony, will play his hand. On one hand he needs all the support he can get as the good are soon to come out on his handling of his predator priests and their victims, but on the other if he disses the local lavender mafia to please Rome, they could turn on him too.

He might as well go down doing what is right, if go down he must.

john hearn

David, you beat me to it!

Samuel J. Howard

"Don't hold your breath waiting for Clark. In 2004 when asked whether he would deny communion to pro-abortion politicians, he said, 'I can't imagine denying anyone communion.'"

Which is a particularly odd thing for him to say, since he is one of the few American Bishops to have pronounced a sin of excommunication on people in his diocese, as he did with Mary Rammerman, Fr. Jim Callan and Fr. Enrique (I don't remember his last name) and all those members of the diocese adhering to the schism.


John and David,

I suppose that would depend on how many there were, where they sat, what they looked like, etc.

Certainly in some cases it would be difficult, or even impossible. In others, it might be easy. (E.g. one distinctive-looking rainbow sasher, seated in the front row right in front of the ambo).

Samuel J. Howard

argghhh, that should read, "sentence of excommunication"


I don't see how the "sasher's" are any more a threat than the latin rite folks or the peaceful pro-life folks. Are you going to deny the Body to men whose hair isn't parted right next? It's really silly. The reaction well overshoots the amount of effort put into the protest, thus shooting the church in the foot with it's own ammo.


PW -- if you aren't familiar with the history associated with this issue, then please go take a look before posting assertions like this.

Suffice it to say that this has been an ongoing and intense issue that cuts to the core of what it means to be Catholic. And the response is not only warranted, it is years late. But better late than never.

I suggest you check around and learn more about this issue before comparing it to hair-parting.

If after becoming familiar with the core issues you still think the reaction "overshoots" then come back and tell us why.

David Kubiak

What planet does the logic used by pw. above come from?

Any step that Archbishop Flynn makes towards doctrinal discipline in his diocese is all to the good, but I wish theses sashes were not the center of the controversy every year. You can be with a sash, without a sash, or balancing a pineapple on your head, the real issue is whether you are properly disposed and in the state of grace when you approach the altar. If I were a bishop (hah) I would want to make it quite clear what the impediment to reception is with the sash-crowd. Presumably the identifiable sin is one of heresy, since you could be perfectly chaste in your own homosexual life but maintain that it is possible for other people not to be and still remain good Catholics. I just think there has been altogether too much talk, in this issue and that of pro-choice politicians, about people who are to be "excluded from Communion", and not nearly enough about the precise nature of the sin they are committing of which they must repent. This would require a lot of technical teaching on the internal vs. the external fora, but I think the Church owes its members a complete presentation of its moral theology.

If this Vatican administration does begin to take a much harder disciplinary line than did the previous one, it will be interesting to see how our prominent left-leaning bishops will react. Do they hold their heterodoxies seriously enough to lose their jobs for them, or has it been a case all along of see how much you can get away with and still keep the benefit package.

scotch meg

I learn much from your comments, but hope (on this rare occasion) to offer a small bit of wisdom to you. The "Saint Joseph Catechism" (ca. 1962) I use with my children describes Pentecost as the birthday of the Church and the second great feast (after Easter). The thinking is that Pentecost celebrates OUR reception of the Holy Spirit and formation into the Mystical Body of Christ (or at least that's how I understand it). So it's the birthday of the Church, while Easter celebrates Christ's Resurrection and our salvation -- not quite the same thing.

Zhou De-Ming

Dear scotch meg,

Thank you for your kind reply, and your reference to the 1962 St. Joseph Catechism. May I share a bit from "Lumen Gentium,", the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church from the Second Vatican Council?

He planned to assemble in the holy Church all those who would believe in Christ. Already from the beginning of the world the foreshadowing of the Church took place. It was prepared in a remarkable way throughout the history of the people of Israel and by means of the Old Covenant. In the present era of time the Church was constituted and, by the outpouring of the Spirit, was made manifest. At the end of time it will gloriously achieve completion, when, as is read in the Fathers, all the just, from Adam and "from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect," will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church. (LG 2)

Notice that "in the present era of time the Church was constituted and, by the outpouring of the Spirit, was made manifest." I understand this to mean that especially in the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, the Church was constituted, formed, made the new creation. It was manifested, made public, by the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.

To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. By His obedience He brought about redemption. The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world. This inauguration and this growth are both symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of a crucified Jesus, and are foretold in the words of the Lord referring to His death on the Cross: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself". As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed, is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on, and, in the sacrament of the eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ is both expressed and brought about. All men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains. (LG 3)

Here more clearly the inauguration of the Church is at the Cross, and the growth is in the sacraments which make that flowing of blood and water present to us: baptism and eucharist.

What then of the pouring out of the Spirit and Pentecost?

When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that He might continually sanctify the Church, and thus, all those who believe would have access through Christ in one Spirit to the Father.(LG 4)

So, the work of the Spirit, from Pentecost, is one of continually santifying the (already existing) Church. More on Pentecost is found at LG 19:

The Lord Jesus, after praying to the Father, calling to Himself those whom He desired, appointed twelve to be with Him, and whom He would send to preach the Kingdom of God; and these apostles He formed after the manner of a college or a stable group, over which He placed Peter chosen from among them. He sent them first to the children of Israel and then to all nations, so that as sharers in His power they might make all peoples His disciples, and sanctify and govern them, and thus spread His Church, and by ministering to it under the guidance of the Lord, direct it all days even to the consummation of the world. And in this mission they were fully confirmed on the day of Pentecost in accordance with the Lord's promise: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and even to the very ends of the earth".

Again, the Church already existed before Pentecost when "in this mission they were fully confirmed." Pentecost is an event of commissioning the Church, commissioning the ministers of the Church, in power, to spread the Gospel. But it is not the origin of the Church, not the beginning or "birthday" of the Church.

So, in conclusion, my opinion (which with $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee), is that the Church was "born" with the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. The Church was "empowerd for ministry to the world" at Pentecost.



Actually babies are created at conceptions, and become present to the public at their birthday. If anything I believe the analogy of Pentecost being the Birthday of the Church fits better.


This is a bit off topic, but I noticed last month this event sponsored by the Archdiocese of St Paul/Minneapolis:

"Voices of Many, Echoes of One-15th Annual Celebrate Woman 2005 Weekend Retreat

Faciliated by Jean Lauer ... and Lea Henkes, FSPA, a Franciscan Sister, a dancing spirit, ritual leader and songwriter"

What is a 'dancing spirit'?

scotch meg

I was quite serious about learning from you. I would never presume to compare my little, old-fashioned catechism to the glorious LG you cite. I use this catechism (which is intended for children) because it is old-fashioned and conveys what I presume is traditional language and imagery to my children (and to me, a poorly catechised 70's convert!). My intent was simply to point out that the image of Pentecost as the "birthday of the Church" is perhaps not quite as newfangled as you seemed to imply. My reading of it is also quite possibly incorrect, but the words "birthday of the Church" are used to describe Pentecost. If you have a better book to use with young children (or middle-aged ignoramuses), I'd be very grateful for any suggestions.

RC in MN

Archbishop Flynn is a fine bishop.

Our vocations in Mpls./St. Paul are up (2nd in the nation, I believe, with 11 ordinations in 2003 and 2004, and about 15 this year) because he not only introduced a prayer for vocations at Sunday Mass throughout the diocese, but actively and personally recruits young men to the priesthood. Seminarians are sent to "teaching parishes" and those tend to be the more orthodox ones.

Adoration is readily available 24/7.

Catholic education is thriving.

A diocese-wide evangelization program has begun.

Judge Flynn, if you must, by results.

Zhou De-Ming

Dear Scoth Meg,

I appreciate that this notion of Pentecost as "birthday of the Church" is probably derived from American catechisms for children, probably at least 100 years old. Children can relate to birthdays, and they might not have much understanding of the more mature impacts of Pentecost. Indeed, isn't everbody gathered in a room, with a lot of noise, and "candles" (the tongues of flame), a perfect setting for a birthday party?

Unfortunately, as you imply, some middle-aged folks never got beyond that childhood catechesis.

And in regard to Michael's comment about babies, I would mention today's Gospel reading from John 16.

"Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.

The "birthday," the "delivery day," is the Day of Resurrection, that day of joy when we say him again.

Overnight I was considering that Pentecost, more or less the end of the special seasons of the liturgical year, corresponds nicely with the end of the Mass: Ite, Missa est. Go, the Mass is over. Go out and preach, go out and be spiritually fruitful and multiply. Go out as Church, as mature Christians, and bear witness and fruit in the world. In regard to a child, as we are children of God, Pentecost is much more symbolic of the sacraments of Ordination (for ministry) and Marriage (for reproduction) than to the sacraments of initiation, or human birth. It is the feast of the full-grown, mature Church ready to go forth and be fruitful! That is exactly what happened when Peter preached on that day.


Rainbow Sashers face a particular challenge this year: to sashay, or not to sashay, to the altar, now that the Vatican has been clear about what should be done with Sashers who come forward at Pentecost.

Zhou De-Ming

Did anyone else notice that the Rainbow Sash Movement copies the Vatican "look and feel" for their "Press Releases?" Example. It has parchment-looking background, just like Vatican, with a "watermark" of St. Peter's square, feeling just like Vatican.
Maybe they are hoping that using "Vatican-like look and feel" will make people think they represent the Church.


I agree with RC mostly, but two comments -- the evangelization inititive is basically a "blind leading the blind" effort for everyone to come together and make Christ relevant to their life as opposed to truly learning what Christ is calling them to do. It is mostly a faith-sharing kumbaya group, except for some of the more orthodox parishes who went out on a limb and included Bible and Catechism study with it.

The vocations prayer is hardly said anywhere in the Archdiocese, I've only heard it at two parishes outside of "Vocations Sunday."

It's interesting, but I think St. Paul is a good example of *authentic* lay activity and renewal -- for so many years it was a strong core of laity that held true to the Church in spite of lax bishops and careerist priests. Now the clergy is reviving in part to the faithful service of the laity (and the encouraging of vocations in those families!). Quite honestly I see the laity here, in general, as being a more faithful example of what was proposed at Vatican II - the laity do have a role to play, NOT the priests' role, but a role nonetheless. Harmony comes when all the parts play their own roles and don't interfere with other roles.

RC in MN

I'm thrilled with what we have at our Mpls./St. Paul parish:

Vocations prayer: every Mass.
School: full.
Pastor: orthodox, sets an example of holiness.
Confessions: 6 days a week.
Collections: a surplus over budget (!)
Bible study: yes
Catechism study for adults: yes
Apologetics class: yes
Youth minister: yes
Adoration: every Thursday (perpetual adoration at a neigboring paris)
Church restoration: yes (tabernacle up there where Pope Benedict wants it).



David, it would seem that you find yourself in a quagmire. For when you accuse the sashers of being in sin for wearing a sash you do two things - assume that all sashers are gay - thus baring false witness - and assume that they are out of communion with the church on other issues as well - playing bishop yourself, which is quite heretical if one is to respect the notion of the Bishops authority as you claim to. Having had a celebate gay conservative catholic roommate in college who was the most devout man one could imagine, I think you might want to reconsider your assumptions before speaking ill of people.

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