Communion cancelled as gays protest in cathedral
Pink wafers were handed out in front of the cathedral in Den Bosch, but the communion inside was cancelled, much to the dismay of the gay activists present.
Dozens of homosexuals and their sympathisers walked out of the Cathedral of St. John in Den Bosch during Sunday’s morning mass. They loudly voiced their discontent and left after pastor Geertjan van Rossem in his sermon said the "correct perception of sexuality" was one of the preconditions for receiving communion. The walk-out followed booing that had already befallen the priest when he announced no one present that day would receive communion, because the church had become the "public plaything of protests and demonstrations".
Reason for the turmoil was the refusal last month of a pastor in the village
Reusel to grant the wafer to the so-called Prince of the Carnival. This
year, that ceremonial title was given to Gijs Vermeulen, an openly gay man
who lives with his boyfriend. Traditionally the 'prince' attends the special
mass before carnival to receive the wafer and wine, but the pastor had
denied Vermeulen communion because he lives in sin according to Catholic
After media got wind of the incident, many homosexuals came to the church in Reusel to see if the pastor would grant them communion. The pastor then consulted the bishop in Den Bosch and refused communion to everyone present. This was reason for the activists to move their protest to Den Bosch last Sunday.
Conversations between the bishop and gay rights organisations on Friday were to no avail.
Many present in the cathedral on Sunday wore pink triangles on their clothes with the words "Jesus excludes no one" on them. Pink wafers were handed out by a transvestite in front of the church and two women were kissing behind a sign that read "Love is not a sin". Others were were wearing pink habits.
During the exit from the church following the pastor's remark many sung 'We shall overcome', the protest song known from the days of the American civil rights movement.
The cathedral had hired a private security service and police kept watch in front of it, but saw no reason to act.
Vera Bergkamp, the deputy chair of COC, a gay rights organisation in the Netherlands, said "people acted dignified, despite the noise they made".
"Van Rossem sought confrontation and polarisation with his remarks, which were unnecessary and hurtful," Bergkamp said. "It was cold in the church, literally and figuratively. We had not prepared this, people responded spontaneously. We are concerned about the conservative stand taken in Den Bosch. We continue to encourage dialogue and will again try to talk to the bishop. I assume the diocese does not like how this is going either. If that doesn't get us anywhere, we will attend this mass for at least another six Sundays, seven is a nice biblical figure."
"But let us not forget that many parishes make no issue of homosexuality," Bergkamp added.
A spokesperson for the diocese said it was unfortunate for the regular churchgoers their mass was disrupted. "Campaigning to enforce the right to communion is not the way to go," the spokesperson said.