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The International Writers Magazine
Reverend Father Antonio Hernández, O.M.D., A.B.F.
Founder of the Independent Order of American Buddhist Fathers


Chicago Rainbow Sash Movement

Back at the beginning of the 1990s, when I was still Christian Catholic and trying to get into a seminary somewhere, an awful event occurred that I cannot forget. A dear friend of mine was refused Holy Communion- because she has Down's Syndrome. Scandalous! An outrage!
My friend with DS knows what the Eucharist is - knows all about Holy Communion. Yet the tyro of a priest refused her, later stating that "as a mongoloid [his word], there was no way knowledge of the Eucharist could possibly exist." Not just an uppity priest, but apparently psychic, too. He did not 'think'... he 'KNEW' he was 'doing his duty'. He excommunicated an innocent at the altar because he was stupid. Much more stupid than he thought my friend was.

In the newspapers there is an uproar that has just begun to hit the media full-blast: refusing communion to rainbow sash wearers. For those who've been living in exile on Tom Hanks' Castaway Island, the Rainbow Sash Movement was started by a gay Catholic man who wanted to be SEEN at church. Gay Catholics and their supporters were encouraged to wear the sash to church. It is a narrow, rainbow-striped stole that is worn over the right shoulder.

I knew of this movement long ago: I had the privilege of corresponding with the man who started this movement, and all the leaders of the movement. As a gay (but celibate) Buddhist priest, who wears a similar (brown) token stole over my left shoulder, I had requested a rainbow sash to wear over my robes. I was obligingly sent two of them. It struck me that while boy-raping priests can hand out communion, people were being refused simply because they wore this sash.

This is no less a Catholic abuse of the Eucharist than I reported in my previous article about Newark's Archbishop John J. Myers using the Eucharist as a political weapon of Mass destruction.

Now, I am no Christian and as far from Catholic as anyone can possibly get on their own two feet. I was once a Catholic and raised Catholic - I wanted to become a powerful bishop. Sure, I had ambition and the right wing fascist temperament to get me to the rank, but what I really wanted to do was change the Holy Mother Church. I was no less than a liberal in imperialist vestments.

The Church's use of the Eucharist as a weapon is one of the most grotesque and impolitic things the Church has ever done. In the Catholic Church, the great Honor System has always obtained: if one was in line for communion, one was trusted to be in a fit state to receive it. As one of my old teachers said to me: "A person damns himself if receiving Holy Communion in an unfit state." The priest is not supposed to be mind-reading or second-guessing at the rail. He's supposed to be distributing the Body of Christ. That is the way I was taught.
Of course, when I was a boy, women who were scantily dressed were refused communion, with a slight shake of the priest's head. Men who still reeked of the previous night's bender: same scene. The priest would scowl like grandpa on a bad prostate day- but that was all. Later he might pay a visit to the refused person's house to discover what the hell that person had been thinking - or drinking.

The point here is that Eucharistic Refusal is a big deal in the rarified (should I say "polluted"?) Catholic atmosphere. It is the practicing Catholic's worst nightmare-gauntlet, because that person doesn't know it's a gauntlet until the grisly end. See why it is a major act on the priest's part? Ultimately he's refusing the communion-reject's very Catholic identity and faith. Eucharistic Refusal is the Church's weapon of choice in the ever-losing battle to play both ends against the middle.

The pope allegedly stomach-punched Bush on the recent presidential visit to Rome (Bush's third time now), castigating him about the Iraqi War. Somehow I wondered what the bible-thumping Texas moron thought of a pope who lets pedophiles refuse Christian communion to innocent people. That's what this world has finally driven me to do: ruminate about Pythonesque notions. Or is it that the world has finally turned into Monty Python's Flying Circus?
Is this the Mass, or a dreaded game of Kick the Dwarf (Queer, if you prefer)? For Catholics in the know, it's a bit of both.
These Eucharist-turned-Euchre games must end. This use of the communion wafer as a black-ball must stop. The Inquisition is over - at least it was supposed to be. Or did we all miss something? I don't think we missed anything. I think we just closed our eyes, hoping the ball wouldn't hit us in the nards. Well, guess what folks...

Let's All Try Democracy this time shall we?


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