Gay rights activists have vowed to continue attending mass in protest at the refusal by some Catholic priests to let them take communion.
On Sunday, dozens of gay men and women attended mass at the St Jan cathedral in Den Bosch to protest at the local bishop’s decision to exclude homosexuals from the ceremony, which is central to the Catholic belief system.
And many of them left the church is a noisy protest after priest Geertjan van Rossem told the congregation that in order to receive communion people needed to have the ‘correct’ experience of sexuality.
‘Homosexuals are welcome in the church. But we ask practising homosexuals not to take part in communion out of respect for the sacrament,’ he said, before describing the protests as ‘not respectful’.
Vera Bergkamp, deputy chairman of the gay rights lobby group COC said the church appeared to be interpreting the rules even more strictly, excluding an ever bigger group from communion.
‘It is to be regretted that the bishop is taking such a hard line,’ she said. ‘And what the priest said in Sunday morning’s sermon was downright insulting.’
The protest follows the refusal of a local priest to give communion to the carnival prince in the nearby small town of Reusel during the pre-Lent celebrations because he is a practising homosexual.
The decision caused an uproar and led to newspaper Gaykrant urging gay Catholics to head to Reusel en masse and attend church. The minister Luc Buyens asked the Den Bosch bishop for advice and instead refused communion to everyone who attended the service – regulars and newcomers alike.
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