Dutch gays, Catholic church put aside dispute

Stephen James Johnson

From the Associated Press

AMSTERDAM – Dutch gay rights groups have called for an end to protests against a Catholic church southwest of Amsterdam after it said it would no longer seek to bar homosexuals from taking communion.

The Sint-Jan church in Den Bosch says it will leave it up to believers to decide whether they are ready to receive communion.

Mass at the church on Sunday was disturbed by protests. The demonstrations began last month after an openly gay man in a nearby village was chosen for a prominent role during Dutch carnival celebrations but was refused communion by his local priest — offending many in the village.

Most Dutch people support gay rights, but the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual activity is sinful.