Church officials denied communion Sunday to a small group of Catholics who wore rainbow sashes to mass at the St. Paul Cathedral.
The sashes were meant to send a statement of support for same-sex marriage. The protest has been an annual event for a decade. Each year organizers ask the archbishop in a letter for permission to participate in the eucharist while wearing a rainbow sash.
A St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese spokesman said it would be sacrilege to give the eucharist to people who are using communion to make a political statement.
"There's no question that they're free to receive communion without the sash. But they're wearing the sash to advance their own protest," said archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath. "And communion time must never be used for a political or protest statement. It's that simple."
Brendt Vanderlinden was among those who wore a rainbow sash. He said church officials politicized the eucharist with a recent mailing of anti-same-sex marriage DVDs to thousands of church members.
"We're saying that by sending out the DVD and taking a strong stand on something that is really a civil political issue," Vanderlinden said. "You know, whether the state is going to legalize gay marriage is a civil political issue. The church doesn't have to take any stand on that."
Vanderlinden said he and his wife wore sashes to show support for their son, who is gay.