The Price of Dissent
In its 2006 statement, Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that Catholics who “knowingly and obstinately repudiate” the Church’s “definitive teaching” on moral issues “seriously diminish [their] communion with the Church.” In recent weeks, the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has not hesitated to stand by those words.
On Sunday September 26th, Lucinda Naylor was suspended from her position as artist-in-residence with the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis due to protesting a DVD in which archbishop John Neinstedt calls for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. (Naylor is collecting the DVDs in order to make a sculpture that will symbolize inclusion.) At a mass at St. John’s Abbey later that day, Neinstedt denied communion to about 25 college students and community members, who the Star Tribune says were “displaying rainbow buttons and sashes in protest of the church’s stand on gay marriage.”
Catholics need to realize that dissent from Church teaching is not a merely private matter. The Eucharist is as much a symbol of full communion with the Church as it is the body of Christ. The question therefore cannot be avoided: who is it we are going to commune with — Neinstedt or Naylor? As someone who overwhelmingly agrees with Church teaching and who, moreover, reveres the Church as a beacon of hope in a benighted world, I do not take this decision lightly. At the same time, the Church has made herself clear, and I will continue to make myself clear by refraining from communion at mass until some kind of reconciliation can be achieved.
Supporters of Naylor can find her on Facebook here.