Judge steps into priest's role, says denial of Eucharist to gay activists is "tremendous violence"
In November, three gay activists made national headlines when they were refused Communion during the Washington meeting of U.S. Catholic bishops. More precisely, they made headlines the next day, when they refused to leave the Hyatt Regency Hotel until a bishop served them the Eucharist. They were repeatedly asked to leave, then arrested by D.C. police.

As it turns out, they were gay activists, but apparently the right kind of gay activists for the Roman Catholic Church. Michael Bugarin, the priest who denied them Communion, said he thought they were members of the Rainbow Sash, an activist group that deliberately tries to be refused communion. But members of Soulforce, he said, are okay. "If they're receiving [Communion] in active opposition … of the church's teaching, I have an obligation to hold up the dignity and belief that we have in the Eucharist," Bugarin told the Detroit Free Press. "I regret that there was a misunderstanding on my part, and I regret the whole situation."

Yesterday, Judge Mildred M. Edwards convicted the three activists of unlawful entry, but declined to sentence them and apologized on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, The Washington Post reports today.

"Tremendous violence was done to you … when the Body of Christ was denied to you," she said. "As a member of your church, I ask you to forgive the church."

Sound like an absurd mixing of church and state? Consider this: "At the end of sentencing," the Post's Arthur Santana writes, "Edwards offered the activists the words priests use at the end of a Catholic Mass: 'Go in peace.'"

Want to bet that Americans United for the Separation of Church and State ...

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