Some Gay Catholics Are Denied Communion...

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 31, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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JON SCOTT, GUEST HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight, yesterday in Chicago, gay rights activists wearing rainbow-colored sashes to mass were denied communion at Holy Name Cathedral (search), a Catholic church. Cardinal Francis George (search) has said the sashes are a symbol of  opposition to the church's doctrine on homosexuality and exploit the communion ritual.

Joining us now from Boston, Ray Flynn, former ambassador to the Vatican (search) and author of the book "John Paul II, a Portrait of the Pope and the Man."  And from Rochester, New York, Charlie Mudge, a member of the Rainbow Sash Movement in New York State who wore his rainbow sash and still received communion yesterday.  Welcome to both of you.

Charlie, the Chicago group was blocked, your group was not.  Are you disappointed?

CHARLIE MUDGE, RAINBOW SASH MOVEMENT:  I'm very disappointed.  Cardinal George made a statement unlike other cardinals and bishops across the United States.

SCOTT:  So you're disappointed that the Chicago group was blocked, not that you were allowed to take communion?

MUDGE:  Certainly I'm disappointed they were not allowed.  People in St. Paul as well as here in Rochester were given communion as any...

SCOTT:  But I mean, didn't you want the conflict and the publicity that would come from your group being blocked as well?

MUDGE:  I'm sorry, Mr. Scott.  We're not an activist group that  protests.  You must have a misunderstanding of what the Rainbow Sash is about.  We come as Catholics who happen to be gay and lesbian, also straight.  And we come wearing the sash as a message of our presence as part of the body of Christ.

We are not there to protest.  We are not there to disrupt the  mass in any way, shape, or  manner.

SCOTT:  But if he had taken -- if the group in Chicago had taken off their sashes, they would have been allowed to receive communion, right?

MUDGE:  That is the church's stand, yes.

SCOTT:  So in doing that, aren't they sort of rubbing people's faces in it?

MUDGE:  Well at this point, the church is not open to discussion.  The message is coming from the church are not pastoral in any manner.

What we seek to do is by wearing our sash, just to make sure that those in the church understand we are here.  Our families are in the churches.  Gay and lesbian people are in parishes across the United States.  There's thousands of gay and lesbian children in growing up today in the Catholic church around this world that need the message that they're not evil.

SCOTT:  Ambassador Flynn, he said this is not about protests.  Is this about religion or something else?

RAY FLYNN, FORMER U.S. AMB. TO VATICAN:  Well, interestingly enough, even the co-founder of this organization in Chicago sent an e-mail saying that he's very disappointed about this protest because of the fact that it wasn't really an effort about religious freedom or religious observance of receiving holy communion. It was really political exploitation, that they were just trying to make a political statement inside a noted cathedral in Chicago.

I think people are pretty disgusted when people have their own political agenda and then they want to make their own case inside the church at the expense of the sacrament of holy Eucharist.

In fact, Cardinal George even said to them, in fact, gay and  homosexuality -- lesbian people have been receiving communion for years and years.  It's just a question if they're going to use it to make a political statement.

But the big issue here is not the handful of people that went inside the church to get on television. It's the fact that the media, the national media is afraid. And politicians are afraid, particularly Catholic politicians are afraid to criticize these people because of the fact that they are afraid that it's not politically correct.

It goes to show you what's happening in our culture today.  You can criticize the Catholic Church.  You can even take your protests inside Catholic churches.  And everybody is afraid to say a word about it.

SCOTT:  The point has been made, Charlie, that the Bishop has given communion to this group before.  But when the group kept hammering on and on about this rainbow sash business, that's when the church had to finally draw a line.

MUDGE:  Well, I certainly have to disagree with Mr. Flynn.  This is not a political statement.  We have never made it a political statement.  We are Roman Catholics.  We are gay.  We are lesbian. We are part of the body of Christ.

We wear the sash, bringing our gifts.  We are -- this is not about politics, not at all.  This is about Jesus and the Eucharist (search).

SCOTT:  But in wearing that sash -- go ahead, Mr. Ambassador.

FLYNN:  I showed up -- I was at mass yesterday.  I was there with my grandchildren, my wife, my family.  We didn't wear any sash.  We didn't carry any signs.  We weren't demonstrating.

We were there as Catholics, proud Catholics to receive the body and blood of Christ. We didn't call the media and have a press conference so the media would show up inside the church, disrupting the services to everybody else who wants to go to church on Pentecost Sunday.  You're there because of the fact that you want to make a political statement.  Fine, you can make all the political statements you want.  The street is a place for political statements, not inside the church.

MUDGE:  Mr. Flynn...

SCOTT:  Go ahead.

MUDGE:  OK, yes, I was also at mass yesterday in a local parish.  I did wear my sash.  I participated like everyone else.

SCOTT:  And in wearing...

MUDGE:  There was no media.  There was no media there.  There was no protest of any kind.

FLYNN:  There was in Chicago.

SCOTT:  In wearing that sash...

MUDGE:  Well, Cardinal George made this issue.

FLYNN:  No, he didn't.  He didn't make it an issue at all.  As a matter of fact...

MUDGE:  Cardinal Mahoney was more than welcoming in Los Angeles wearing the sash.  The bishop in St. Paul, Minnesota, was welcoming to those wearing the sash.

FLYNN:  You know, Cardinal George has a program...

MUDGE:  They understand...

FLYNN:  ...within the archdiocese of Chicago.

MUDGE:  It's not about politics.

FLYNN:  But Cardinal George has a...

MUDGE:  This is about Roman Catholics who are gay and lesbian standing up and being present.

FLYNN:  It's about political exploitation.  It's about using a sacred issue of the holy Eucharist, sacred to Catholics for political  expression.

MUDGE:  Certainly not.

FLYNN:  Now you're entitled to your political expression, but you're not allowed to do that at the expense of the people.

MUDGE:  This is not about political expression.

SCOTT:  We have to leave the discussion there.

FLYNN:  Thank you very much.

SCOTT:  Ambassador Ray Flynn and Charlie Mudge, thank you both.

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