About John Lilburne


Another protest, 20 May 2001





1550 Sun 5 Aug 2001

Cardinal Lustiger, the Archbishop of Paris, was the principal celebrant at this morning's Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne. There were elaborate security precautions I suppose because of concerns about protestors from the Rainbow Sash Movement.

The Cardinal did not go outside, with the procession going through the cathedral, while normally it goes outside. He only distributed communion to those who came into the sanctuary, which was controlled by ushers. I guess this was to avoid photos of him not giving communion to those with a rainbow sash.

Part of the difficulty is understanding what is meant by wearing a rainbow sash. My understanding is that it was started by Nick Holloway in London to identify himself. The following is from http://nickholloway.com/rainbowsash But he also called on others to wear the sash:

Media Release from Nicholas Holloway

21 May 1997

"Wear the rainbow sash with me. Seek the Eucharist wearing the rainbow sash and let the Church know that if they serve us then they serve the gay man, the lesbian woman, the homosexual person, the person who chooses to have sex outside of marriage, the person who uses contraception, the person whose sexuality falls outside the teaching. "

I am baptised and I am a practising Catholic.

I am an openly, publicly, actively homosexual person.

In an open letter to Cardinal Basil Hume I have asked him whether he will serve me the Eucharist at a mass he is to offer at Westminster Cathedral to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi on Thursday 29 May 1997, at 5.30pm.

I have told him that he will know me because I will be wearing a sash in rainbow colours.

I call gay Christian people everywhere to join me in wearing the rainbow sash and seeking the Eucharist in Churches throughout the country, around the world; Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, those of the United Reform Church, of the Metropolitan Community Church, of all Churches, everywhere - join me. Wear the rainbow sash and present for the Eucharist as who you are; Christian and homosexual.

It isn't just gay people I call.

I call all Christians to wear the rainbow sash and present for the Eucharist.

It seems to be a deliberately confusing symbol, but I guess its to identify him and his supporters. Cardinal Hume refused him communion and the following press release was issued:

Press Release from the Archbishop's Office

29 May 1997


In an open letter to Cardinal Hume dated 6 May 1997 Mr Nicholas Holloway, who describes himself as an openly, publicly, actively homosexual person, challenged the Cardinal to give him Communion at Mass in Westminster Cathedral today. He added that his understanding of the Church's teaching is that he must act out of an informed conscience. He said he does - he has sex with men. He said he would be wearing a rainbow sash and would present himself for Communion at the Corpus Christi Mass today.

The normal rule whereby the Church offers Holy Communion to all who seek it does not apply if someone misuses the occasion of the Sacrament to seek public endorsement of their private decisions in conscience. This would be the case regardless of the specific aspect of the Church's teaching which is being rejected. Cardinal Hume stated today that:

"It is one thing to approach Our Lord in Holy Communion humbly, conscious of our frailty and sinfulness, begging for forgiveness and help. It is quite another to seek to receive Holy Communion as a way of publicly demonstrating and justifying disagreement with the Church 's teaching. No-one has the right to demand that the Church should publicly endorse their private decisions in conscience, when that decision is not in accord with the teaching of the Church."

After Mass today there were about five people wearing the rainbow sash being interviewed by journalists.

This morning I was reading the Code of Canon Law. Canon 212 seems important in understanding these issues:

Christ's faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound to show christian obedience to what the sacred Pastors, who represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith and prescribe as rulers of the Church.

Christ's faithful are at liberty to make known their needs, especially their spiritual needs, and their wishes to the Pastors of the Church.

They have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ's faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and dignity of individuals.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n 2357:

... "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

This seems to be the main issue for the Rainbow Sash Movement. So they do not seem to be following the part of Canon 212 about "they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals" in making their views known.

The Catechism also teaches in n 2358:

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. ... They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.

This seems to be part of the issue for the Rainbow Sash Movement. But I think Cardinal Hume, Archbishop Pell and Archbishop Hart are correct in saying this is not the main issue. So they are condemned for what Cardinal Hume described as seeking "to receive Holy Communion as a way of publicly demonstrating and justifying disagreement with the Church 's teaching".

I stand after the "Lamb of God", before going to communion, while most people kneel. Initially I did this because people were kneeling before the "Lamb of God" was complete, which seemed clearly wrong. Now I stand because in the 1975 General Instruction to the Roman Missal, n 21, it directs that people should be standing at this time. I could be wrong. I am open to correction or "conversion" on this point. Perhaps a decision has been made by the Australian Conference of Bishops and approved by the Vatican. But I am not aware of such a decision and so I think I shall continue to stand until I become aware of such a decision, unless a particular direction is given to the congregation at a particular Mass. I sit after receiving communion.

From an Australain Rainbow Sash Website, part of what they do is:

We return to our seats in the event of refusal and silently stand or sit till the end of Communion time.

My standing is because I believe it is according to the liturgical law, not to demonstrate support for a particular cause.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 5 August 2001. Last updated 21 May 2001.