RAINBOW SASH MOVEMENT IS ABOUT PROTEST, NOT JUST ABOUT IDENTIFICATION
The Catholic Media Coalition is compelled to respond to the February 9, 2005 Press Release issued by the Rainbow Sash Movement (RSM) leadership.
The RSM release states: “[F]undamentalist elements within the Church consistently promote lies about the Rainbow Sash Movement. We say the Rainbow Sash is about identification, the fundamentalists say it is about protest.”
Quoting RSM spokesman Joe Murray, the release further says: “Members of the Rainbow Sash Movement believe in the Church’s Teaching Magisterium, and a fundamental Teaching of the Church is the Primacy of Conscience.”
These protestations of loyalty to the Church are deceptive.
The Rainbow Sash Movement does not accept the Church’s interpretation of scripture. The Australian RSM, parent to the RSM in other countries, carries extensive Biblical commentary on its website, attempting to “prove” traditional Christian teaching is in error about its condemnation of homosexual activity.
The Rainbow Sash Movement does not accept the Church’s teaching that a same sex orientation is intrinsically disordered or that people struggling with such an orientation are called to live celibately. Its Core Statement reads: “In wearing The Rainbow Sash we proclaim that we are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender people who embrace and celebrate our sexuality as a Sacred Gift.” It further states that the wearing of the sash is a sign that its members want the Church “to enter into public dialogue with us; to work with us for justice and
RSM finds, for example, the Church’s position against homosexual unions and marriage to be unjust. An RSM July 31, 2003 Press Release, “Gay Catholics on Three Continents Condemn Vatican Attack on Gay Unions and Marriages,” calls the Vatican’s clear directive against such unions “relentlessly negative, cold-hearted and an insult to the dignity of gay and lesbian persons.” It further states that members of the RSM “will stand up for ourselves and call the Church to a new openness and a new embrace of human sexuality in all of its diversity and beauty. We need to transform the Church for the sake of future generations.”
On January 18, 2004, the RSM sent a letter, signed by Joe Murray, to the Bishops of Massachusetts, in response to their fight against legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. It says: “The exclusion of gays and lesbians from marriage degrades gay and lesbian families, and makes of them second rate citizens.”
To say that wearing the Rainbow Sash is about identification and not about protest is to play with the meaning of words. It is the expressed intention of the RSM to exert pressure on the Church hierarchy to change (“reform”) its moral positions. To accomplish this, the RSM has launched a war of words, in which one who articulates traditional moral positions is labeled a homophobe and a “Catholic fundamentalist,” engaging in “hate speech.” The freedom to worship and teach according to one’s conscience appears not to apply to traditional Catholics.
The Catholic Media Coalition encourages Cardinal George and all other Catholic bishops to continue their defense of Church teaching. We particularly thank Cardinal George for his difficult and courageous denial of Communion to those who publicly challenge that teaching.