Hundreds of people walked out of a Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands Sunday to protest church policy against giving communion to homosexuals, organizers said.

Sunday’s protest at Sint-Jan church in ‘s-Hertogenbosch came about one month after a priest in the nearby town of Reusel declined to give communion to a practicing gay man, the BBC reported.

Holy Communion is a sacrament in the Catholic Church, in which communicants partake bread and wine which they believe has been transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. By canon law, a priest is forbidden to administer the sacrament to anyone in a state of mortal.

Homosexuality, throughout the ages, has been viewed as a grievous transgression by Catholics and other Christians. This teaching is upheld by the Old and New Testaments. Leviticus states: “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman” (18:22) and prescribes a death penalty for anyone who engages in such acts. In Romans, St. Paul also condemns such acts as “vile” and un-natural” (1: 26-27). Throughout much of Catholic history, sins of this nature were considered so grave that they could only be absolved by a bishop.

But scripture and tradition failed to hold sway in Holland.

After the church in ‘s-Hertogenbosch refused to administer communion during mass Sunday, protesters walked out, shouting and singing, the BBC said.

In 2001, Holland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.

The gay activist who was refused communion in Reusel said he wanted to be treated the same as other Catholic congregants — saying if he is refused communion because he is a sinner, other sinners of all kinds should also be banned from receiving the sacrament.

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