The bishops really don’t want to deny communion to anyone unless they believe it’s absolutely necessary.
Archbishop John Nienstedt (Minneapolis-St. Paul), however, denied communion to 25 students and members of the St. John’s Abbey community in Collegeville, MN. They were wearing rainbow buttons and sashes in protest of the Church’s position on homosexuality and homosexual marriage.
As reported in the Star Tribune:
The St. John’s action was coordinated by students, including members of People Representing the Sexual Minority (PRiSM), which represents gay and lesbian students and their friends and allies. That Sunday, according to those at the mass, about two dozen worshipers positioned themselves to receive communion from Nienstedt, who was saying his first student mass at the abbey. Some reached for the communion wafer but were denied it. Rather, the archbishop raised his hand in blessing.
The explanation of the denial was given by archdiocesan spokesman Dennis McGrath who commented,
“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.”
The protest was stirred up by the decision of the Minnesota bishops to distribute 400,000 DVDs through the parishes of the state to explain the Church’s opposition to homosexual marriage.
Here’s a very interesting transcript of Archbishop Nienstedt’s interview with Minnesota public radio on the issue of homosexual marriage. The hostility of the interviewer, Tom Crann, is more than obvious.
But the Archbishop is no man to be bullied by an interviewer, and he more than held his own.
Crann: If same-sex marriage is a ‘dangerous risk,’ as you put it, in society, wouldn’t also divorce, as well, be such a risk?
Nienstedt: Obviously. That’s obvious. And it has been a dangerous risk and it is a dangerous risk to our society today.
Crann: And yet there has been no effort from the Catholic Church over the years to outlaw divorce.
Nienstedt: No, the church doesn’t permit divorce. I don’t know – the use of your word ‘outlaw.’
Crann: In a civic sense.
Nienstedt: But divorce is not acceptable. Divorce is not part of our teaching, no.
Crann: No, but in a civil sense. And I suppose what I’m saying is there has been a difference historically in the secular and civil world with marriage and divorce and in the context of the Catholic Church and other churches, too. And I’m wondering if there always will be that difference or do you want to see the civil definition of marriage be more aligned with your church’s definition.
Nienstedt: There is no difference between the civil and the religious definition of marriage because marriage comes to us by virtue of creation and our creator. And so the state does not establish marriage. Marriage came long before there was any government.
And so this is a natural reality, and it’s defined by the natural law, what we call the natural law. And so it precedes any government. And government is meant to support marriage between a husband and a wife in order to give it a context for the raising of children and the protection of children.
At that point, Crann knew he was in over his head and backed off.