Westminister archbishop affirms Masses for homosexuals

The Archbishop of Westminister, Vincent Nichols, is standing by his support for special Masses provided for homosexuals in the archdiocese.

Nichols has shrugged of recent criticism that Masses for homosexuals provide a platform for dissent from Church teaching, and he reaffirmed the Westminister diocese’s pastoral provision for gay Catholics.

Rejecting complaints that the gatherings in Soho for weekly Mass encourage active homosexuals to ignore Church teachings, the archbishop said that he is taking steps to ensure that the ministry supports the Church’s teaching and that the Masses “are not occasions for confusion or opposition concerning the positive teaching of the Church on the meaning of human sexuality or the moral imperatives that flow from that teaching, which we uphold and towards which we all strive.”

The pastoral provision, known colloquially as the “Soho Masses”, has attracted criticism since it was established in February 2007 by the archbishop’s predecessor, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.

Earlier this month a short video of the bidding prayers at one of the Masses was posted on YouTube. Critics claimed that the prayers challenged Catholic teaching on homosexuality – a claim denied by the organisers.

“As we approach the fifth anniversary of the establishment of a pastoral provision for Catholics of a same-sex orientation at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, I would like reaffirm the intention and purpose of this outreach,” said the archbishop.

Nichols outlined three essential and consistent foundations of the practice:

  • the dignity of all persons created by God,
  • the moral principles concerning chastity and the Church’s teaching on sexual activity, and the pastoral care of Catholics who are of same-sex orientation, and
  • all who participate in the Mass are called to live the church’s teaching through an ongoing conversion of life.

The Soho Masses Pastoral Council, the group who organises the masses say that as a result of the archdiocese’s outreach, an increasing number of gay Catholics had returned to the practice of the faith.

“The Masses offer us a warm, joyful and inclusive occasion to share in communion with each other, with our families and friends, and with the whole Church, secure in the knowledge that we, too, have our place at the Lord’s table,” the group said.


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