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The scandal of the Soho Masses

The Westminster diocese is still encouraging grave sin by approving Masses for non-celibate gay people

By on Friday, 16 July 2010

When Archbishop Vincent Nichols moved from Birmingham to Westminster, Daphne McLeod, of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, welcomed him back to London, and warmly added that she looked “forward to watching this new broom making a clean sweep of problems which have troubled the Archdiocese of Westminster for the last few years”.

“First on the new archbishop’s list,” she went on, “will undoubtedly be putting an end to the sacrilegious Masses held every first and third Sunday of the Month in the Church of Our Lady and St Gregory in Soho.”

Archbishop Nichols, it now has to be accepted, has had plenty of time to “make a clean sweep” of this problem and not only has done nothing but almost certainly presently intends to do nothing about these Masses. The fiction which justifies the archdiocese in its support for the Soho Masses is that they are celebrated for the benefit of gays who accept the teachings of the Church and therefore refrain from any form of sexual activity. A statement issued by the cardinal at the time the Masses first began in a Catholic church, according to the Telegraph, “stressed that the move did not represent a shift in Church teaching, which says that homosexual practice is a sin and that non-celibate gay people should not be given Communion”.

It is now clear beyond peradventure that those who attend the Masses are nearly all what the archdiocese calls “non-celibate gay people” who intend to continue to defy Catholic teaching, which is that homosexuals (Catechism art 2358) “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity”, but also that (2359) they “are called to chastity”.

The whole ethos of the Soho Masses is a committed denial of this teaching, a denial in which they are encouraged by the Archdiocese of Westminster, whose justification is that they are responding to “a number of homosexual Catholics” who have expressed “their desire for pastoral care from the Diocese of Westminster”.

But the question is this: can it ever be right to describe as “pastoral care” a consistent uncritical support for a “lifestyle” which the Church teaches is gravely sinful? And by doing so are they not placing themselves under judgment too? The archbishop might care to ponder Luke 17: “And he said to his disciples: It is impossible that causes of sin should not come: but woe to him through whom they come” (verse one). And what about verse three? “… If your brother does something wrong, rebuke him and, if he is sorry, forgive him”. That is also a fundamental part of “pastoral care”.

  • Danzibar

    William, you state, “It is now clear beyond peradventure that those who attend the Masses are nearly all what the archdiocese calls 'non-celibate gay people' who intend to continue to defy Catholic teaching.” On what evidence do you base your assertion that “nearly all” of those who attend the Soho Masses are non-celibate? How could you possibly know this? Unless, of course, you are in possession of intimately-acquired knowledge of every Soho Mass-goer's sex life.

  • W Oddie

    I know it because I am not a fool. If you doubt it, visit the soho Masses Pastoral council website, and read it carefully from beginning to end. That is not the only evidence I have: but I do not propose to present it here. The point is that it is up to them to deny it: AND THEY WILL NOT, BECAUSE IT IS TRUE.

  • Paulsmeaton

    Do Gay Pride think that homosexually inclined Catholics should live chastely according to the Church's teachings?

  • EditorCT

    Spot on William. Thank you for your clear, honest article. I really would not have given the Catholic Herald credit for publishing an outspoken, long overdue, article like this.

  • Danzibar

    Paul, I'm afraid I don't really understand what Gay Pride (I'm assuming you mean the organisation, London Pride, here and not the concept) has to do with the Soho Masses.

  • Danzibar

    William, have you or The Catholic Herald put the question: 'Are the vast majority of your attendees at the Soho Masses practising, non-celibate homosexuals?' or indeed a similar question to the Soho Masses Pastoral Council? If not, how can they possibly deny the charge unless you put the charge to them? And even if you did decide to put such a question to them, I would assume, much like yourself, they would not possess intimate details of the sex lives of their congregation. Just as in any normal Catholic parish up and down the country the Priest and Parish Council would, in the vast majority of cases, have no certain idea whether their parishioners are sexually active (whether indulging in homosexual sex, married sex, pre-marital sex or indeed remaining abstinent). Unless, of course, there's a new Church policy of conducting a sexual census of parishioners every Sunday which I haven't heard about! Therefore, it's clear that your viewpoint regarding the assertion that nearly all Soho attendees are “non-celibate gay people” is simply guesswork. If you had the courage to say that it is your 'gut instinct' that this is the case, based on what you have been told, then I would have a great deal more respect for you and for this blog post. As it stands, you refuse to provide any further journalistic evidence in support of your argument, and as such, for many of this website's readers (conservative Catholics though they are), I am sure your opinion will only be adjudged as biased. As I cheekily alluded to in my previous post, the only perceivable way one could know for sure is to have acquired the information through what I shall describe as 'intimate personal involvement'. Since I presume this is not what you are referring to when you write, “that is not the only evidence I have”, maybe you'll be good enough to either provide the evidence or apologise for making an unsubstantiated claim?

  • Kevin

    Thank you Dr Oddie for this comment. As EditorCT said, it is spot on. There is a WEALTH of evidence in the public domain, proving beyond any shadow of a doubt the dissent from Church teaching on homosexuality and related issues, by former and present members of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council (SMPC), who run these Masses. This dissent from Church teaching has been openly displayed since they began – at the Mass itself; in the SMPC newsletters given out at the Masses, on their Soho Mass website and on related websites – and even some of the priests they choose to celebrate Mass for them have publicly aired their doubts about Catholic teaching on homosexuality, such as Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP (see The Tablet 28/01/06). Archbishop Vincent Nichols is FULLY aware of all this and for whatever reason chooses to turn a blind eye, as did his predecessor Cardinal Cormac and also Bishop Longley.

  • W Oddie

    I HAVE put the charge, they haven't denied it and they won't. The evidence is plentiful (see Kevin's response to your original post. There is NO QUESTION OF GUESSWORK HERE.

  • Danzibar

    I think, Dr Oddie, you may be missing the point. I am not necessarily disagreeing with you that there might be dissent from Church teaching going on at the Soho Masses. I have not seen evidence myself to suggest there is and indeed, I had never heard of the Soho Masses until today. However, in the interests of this discussion, I shall take you and Kevin's joint word for it that there is. What I take exception to is your claim that you know beyond doubt that the majority of parishioners of the Church of Our Lady and St Gregory are regularly engaging or have previously engaged in homosexual sex. It simply cannot be proved! And therefore, this assertion is guess work. I cannot believe that a man of your intellect who has written book upon book and previously edited The Catholic Herald with apparent distinction, can allow your anger and obvious bias to colour today's blogpost with such lazy journalism, worthy only of a downmarket red-top.

  • EditorCT

    Danzibar,

    Where on earth (or elsewhere) have you been living these past umpteen years. This scandal is so well documented it makes the Magna Carta look suspect.
    http://queeringthechurch.wordpress.com/2009/03/

  • Danzibar

    Furthermore, have you considered the fact that if we were to start closing Parishes in the UK just because they routinely catered for Catholics who dissented against Church teaching, we wouldn't be left with much of a Catholic Church to speak of?

  • Kevin

    Danzibar – In answer to your question to Paul Smeaton, I have SMPC Mass newsletters promoting the London Gay Pride rally, also showing that they have taken part in the London Gay Pride rally (marching and also putting info out on a stall), also that they have 'Pride' Masses, usually held on the Sunday after the Pride rally. This year, I was informed by those who attended, that the Warwick Street church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory was draped with the rainbow banners that the SMPC members carried on the Pride march. I hope that this answers your question about any connection.

  • Danzibar

    EditorCT, Dr Oddie: you have clearly been raging about the Soho Masses for so long that you seemingly can't answer a simple question. How do you know that the majority of Soho Mass-goers are engaging in homosexual sex? It's clear why you won't answer – because you can't. You can have your suspicions but you can't know for sure. I get why it must be so irritating for you all, but maybe the time has come, with regard to this question, to put up or shut up.

  • Danzibar

    To quote Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham (former Auxiliary of Westminster) “It's never been the practice of the Catholic church, as it were, to 'means-test' people before admitting them to the celebration of the Eucharist. It would be a mistake to jump to conclusions or to generalise about anybody's particular lifestyle, or their state of grace.” With this outlook in mind, I think it is clear why Archbishop Vincent is yet to put an end to the Soho Masses – because, barring the certain knowledge that someone is continually committing a grave sin without repentance, Holy Mother Church is open to all.

  • Kevin

    Danzibar – there is firm proof available that dissent from Catholic teaching on homosexuality is being promoted at and through these Masses. Regardless of Dr Oddie's knowledge / lack of knowledge of actual sexual acts by members of the SMPC and congregation, this public proof of dissent is enough to remove these Masses from the aegis of the SMPC and place them under the pastoral care of those who fully and unequivocally accept Catholic teaching on homosexuality. The same would be the case if any groups started up parish Masses advocating dissent from any other Catholic teachings. Yes, we all know that individuals go to Mass and Holy Communion up and down the country who reject various key doctrines on faith and morals, and this is completely wrong (not, of course, for them to attend Mass, but to receive Holy Communion), and the Church makes this clear to them, but I am not aware of any other parishes that hold official Masses for any other groups of individuals who openly dissent from Catholic teaching. Why should the SMPC be so favoured?

  • Danzibar

    Kevin, I am perfectly happy to accept what you are saying. If it is true that dissent against Church teachings is blatantly at play within the SMPC and at these Masses, then you're right, an intervention should be made by the bishops in Westminster. I've just read an article, for instance, about bidding prayers being said in support of civil partnerships, which is a ridiculous thing to be going on in a Catholic Church. However, you'll notice that my gripe on this particular thread of discussion, has consistently been with regard to Dr Oddie's statement that “It is now clear beyond peradventure that those who attend the Masses are nearly all what the archdiocese calls “non-celibate gay people”'. It can't be proven, Kevin, it's lazy, and I object to it on the grounds that I am one of Dr Oddie's fellow journalists and detest the use of clearly unsubstantiated information to seemingly prove a point. Kevin, you have done more in your posts to convince me of the initial argument, than Dr Oddie came close to in his blog post.

  • Kevin

    No, and the Church doesn't 'means-test' people as to whether they can go to Holy Communion. In 25 years of being a Catholic, I've never been asked if I were in a state of grace before I went to receive Holy Communion – but if groups are organising Masses and promoting dissent at those Masses, then that is another matter altogether. Also don't forget that the members of the SMPC also wrote the following about their negotiations for the Soho Masses with Bishop Longley on 'Pink News':- http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2009/10/01/new-archbi… :- Martin Pendergast (founder of the SMPC) said:- “I can assure others who have commented that there was no demand on us to ‘remain celibate and agree that homosexual acts are wrong’ ” and also Terence Weldon (Eucharistic Minister and SMPC committee member) said:- “I agree with my friend and colleague Martin (above) who notes that during the extensive consultation process around the Soho gay Masses, Bishop Longley at no time expressed any demand that we remain celibate or agree with Church teaching”.

  • Daphne McLeod

    To be fair to the homosexuals who attend these Masses and receive Holy Communion at them, they are quite honest and they have openly admitted to those of us who pray the Rosary there in reparation that they are living the homosexual life-style. One young man crossed the road and said, kindly, to me “It’s alright now Daphne, or else the cardinal would not have sanctioned these Masses.”
    I have the privilege of knowing some good homosexuals who do strive to live by Church teaching and who do not want special; Masses drawing attention to them. They attend Mass in their own parishes like the rest of us.
    Please pray for these Catholics and for those who facillitate this scandal.
    Daphne McLeod.

  • Danzibar

    As I mention in my below post, Kevin, you have written a lot to convince me.

  • Brendamarywalsh

    My friends and I were there at Warwick Street a few years ago when those Masses began. I, myself chatted with various members of the Gay Attendees after Mass. All of them that I spoke to admitted that they were practising sex. Two Lesbians told me that they were very much in love and to defend their undying love for each other, they told me that they have been sleeping together, sharing the same bed for over 20 years. I have seen men actually kissing in the congregation. I actually seen with my own eyes, a man fondling another man’s backside, rubbing him and squeezing him on the way up to Holy Communion.
    I have witnessed overt flirting amongst homosexuals. They seem to get extra FLIRTY when Fr Timothy Radcliffe is the celebrant. God help us, thats all I can say. And yes Archbishop NIcols has the power to stop these Masses. The Pope has the power to say the word if bishops are opposing him ‘I am the Pope” so Archbishop Nicols has this same power. Whilst we are delighted to see many refreshing changes under Archbishop Vincent, the CHANGE most needed has not come – Stopping these Masses – many Catholics have told me that they are so disappointed with our Archbishop over this. This is the ONE issue that we thought that Archbishop would put a Halt to it. And if the truly values his own soul, he really needs to listen to Pope Benedict about using the Rod. But I have always told catholics to give the Archbishop time, but that itme is now well and truly up!
    I was so appalled, so shocked that I wrote a very serious letter to Cardinal Murphy O’Connor.

  • I saw with my own eyes

    Danzibar – I can confirm, as one who went along to one of these Masses, and then went “downstairs” (to the hall underneath the church) for tea afterwards, that the vast majority of the men there were quite open a) about their dissent from Church teaching; b) their disliking of the Pope; c) the fact that they had “boyfriends”.

    If you want proof, just go to one of these sacrilegious Masses yourself, and you'll soon shut up.

  • Guardian

    I’m amazed by what I read here.
    The fact is that Our Lord said it is the sick that need the doctor, not the healthy. I am sure that Our Lord did not intent the Eucharist to be used as some kind of bargaining tool.
    The fact is the Catholic Church has no moral authority any longer. And it will only start to recover once the Church starts preaching the Gospel and stops preaching the Church!!!

  • Stephen and Ruth

    So relieved to see something so wrong exposed in print – and in the Catholic Herald. Thank you William Oddie and of course thank you Catholic Herald

  • terenceweldon

    The Catholic Church equally teaches that contraception and cohabitation are grave sins. Why not write about the countless Catholics who ignore those rules? Or about the priests who as confessors or spiritual directors will privately approve those decisions, when taken in good conscience?

    The simple facts are that no body has any business judging the interior state of another's conscience, and that the history of the Masses has shown that they have drawn back to the Church many hundreds of people who had not seen the inside of a Catholic church in decades. Frequently, they come initially out of simple curiosity after hearing of us by word of mouth , or at London Gay Pride, but then return more regularly. Often, they then become more actively involved in a local parish closer to home as well.

    One of the impressive features of the Masses is the depth of participation we have. I suspect that as a proportion of the total congregation, the numbers actively participating as special ministers, musicians, and in the increasing range of after-mass or outside activities is higher than in many conventional parishes. This is in spite of the very long distances some of us travel to attend, and the an often heavy involvement of some in home parishes. Discussion with our parishioners also demonstrates that the level of knowledge and interest in theology and church far exceeds what I have generally encountered in other parish settings.

    The only scandal around these Masses is not that they exist, but that some bigots appear to believe they are doing the Lord's work by trying to prevent other Catholics attending Mass. I am proud to have been associated with these Masses for the past six years, and hope I will continue to be for many more,.

  • terenceweldon

    It is not the teaching of the “Church” that we should refrain from sexual activity outside of marriage, but the doctrine of the Vatican. The “Church” includes all Catholics, from the Pope in Rome, down to ordinary lay people in the pews. Research shows clearly that most Catholics differ from the official doctrine on virtually all matters of sexual ethics. The overwhelming majority reject and ignore Humanae Vitae, and most Catholics in the UK and the rest of Europe, and the US are also known (from research evidence) to disagree that sexual relations before marriage, masturbation, after divorce, or between same sex couples are morally wrong. Even in overwhelmingly Catholic Argentina, recent opinion polls showed that 70% of people supported the law to allow gay marriage and adoption.

  • Inigo

    Exactly what does the Soho Masses threaten and are there bigger threats to the Church?

  • Ritthichai

    Maybe – just maybe – Vincent Nichols is less of a right-wing bigot qand fundamentalist than most Catholics seem prepared to accept they must be these days. He is probably as embarrased as the majority of the UK population at such intolerant nonsense.

  • terenceweldon

    After a second look at this post and the comments, I have been astonished by the people who reveal that at these Masses, they have been directly told by participants that they are in sexual relationships with their partners. How has this come about? In six years of regular attendance, I have never yet had anybody volunteer information to me about their sexual activities. I cannot imagine that any one of them would do so to a complete stranger without being asked a direct question. Now, that really is scandalous.

    I would never dream of asking married couples after Mass in a family parish if they practised contraception; or ask a young unmarried couple if their relationship was sexual; or ask a teenager if he masturbated. (Although I could probably guess at the answers.)

    Why, oh why do so many Catholics assume that their own sexual activities are strictly personal and private, but those of gay men and lesbians are open to public dissection and scrutiny?

  • Kevin

    Sorry Terence, but you can't just dismiss the teaching of the Universal Church, as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 1994 as mere 'Vatican doctrine'. In the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (found at the beginning of the CCC 1994) Pope John Paul II states:-

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the result of very extensive collaboration; it was prepared over six years of intense work done in a spirit of complete openness and fervent zeal. In 1986, I entrusted a commission of twelve Cardinals and Bishops, chaired by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, with the task of preparing a draft of the catechism requested by the Synod Fathers. An editorial committee of seven diocesan Bishops, experts in theology and catechesis, assisted the commission in its work. The commission, charged with giving directives and with overseeing the course of the work, attentively followed all the stages in editing the nine subsequent drafts. The editorial committee, for its part, assumed responsibility for writing the text, making the emendations requested by the commission and examining the observations of numerous theologians, exegetes and catechists, and above all, of the Bishops of the whole world, in order to produce a better text. In the committee various opinions were compared with great profit, and thus a richer text has resulted whose unity and coherence are assured.
    The project was the object of extensive consultation among all Catholic Bishops, their Episcopal Conferences or Synods, and theological and catechetical institutes. As a whole, it received a broadly favorable acceptance on the part of the Episcopate. It can be said that this Catechism is the result of the collaboration of the whole Episcopate of the Catholic Church, who generously accepted my invitation to share responsibility for an enterprise which directly concerns the life of the Church. This response elicits in me a deep feeling of joy, because the harmony of so many voices truly expresses what could be called the “symphony” of the faith. The achievement of this Catechism thus reflects the collegial nature of the Episcopate; it testifies to the Church's catholicity.” And whether it personally suits you or not Terence, the Catechism clearly and unequivocally re-states the sinfulness of any sexual activity outside marriage, including homosexual activity.

  • terenceweldon

    Kevin, your response simply confirms my point: it may have been extensive collaboration between Cardinals and bishops – but where were the rest of us?

    In all the contributions on sexuality, where was there any input from people with any real-life experience of sexual love?

  • Thegrassysageknoll

    Terrence – the church is quite clear that heterosexual couples who practice birth control are in a state of sin and should not come to communion, because they commit sacrilege. The problem with the Soho masses is that they legitimise something that is doubly sinful i.e. the practising of a vice which both unnatural and one that invariably takes place outside marriage, because homosexual unions can never exist in the church.

    The problem with todays priests is that they do not preach enough on the effects of sin or why such things are sinful: we have gone from one extreme to another, which is deadly to souls.

    You are either a Catholic that accepts the teachings of the church, instituted by Christ himself, or you are not. There can be no pick and choose.

  • Thegrassysageknoll

    Perhaps you might like to read the gospel where it says that one must be in a state of grace to receive Holy Communion in the first place 1 Cor 11: 27-30?

  • terenceweldon

    I am quite happy o follow the example and teachings of Christ – who had not a word to say about either homosexuality or birth control. Indeed, his clear example is that he was happy to heal the centurion's gay lover (“paidion” incontext would have implied a sexual relationship), and did not condemn the Samaritan woman at the well for her numerous partners, but instead engaged her in discussion. In fact He had remarkably littel to say on sexual ethics of any kind.

    The Vatican teaching (not the teaching of “the Church”, which includes all of us) on homosexuality and contraception is plainly the work of men, not of Christ.

  • Benedict Carter

    The Bishops, in their surrender to secular ideology, are an utter disgrace. Which great Saint was it who said that few bishops would save their souls?

  • Lanhernefriars

    The Church is concerned for all souls. We are all sinners and need to attend Mass to adore God and beg for His grace. There is no need to single out any one group of people at a Mass. We are all sinners and come to Mass for help both by the grace of God and the teachings of the Church in the Word of God. The Masses in Soho for the Homosexual community are a scandal and should be stopped immediately. Fr. George M. Roth, FI. St. Joseph and St. Anne Monastery, Lanherne-St. St. Mawgan, Newquay, Cornwall, UK

  • CJ

    yes the Soho masses are a real scandal, Dr Oddie. I'm scandalised by gay Catholics who continue to commune with the hateful hypocritical organisation that is the Vatican Church. I miss my relationship with the divine but I dont miss the Church and its horrid functionaries and champions.

  • Ritthichai

    The Church is concerned for all souls. We are all sinners and need to attend Mass to adore God and beg for His grace. There is no need to single out any one group of people at a Mass. We are all sinners and come to Mass for help both by the grace of God and the teachings of the Church in the Word of God.

    … is followed by the complete non sequitur:
    The Masses in Soho for the Homosexual community are a scandal and should be stopped immediately.

    Twisted logic if ever I read it

  • Kevin

    Ritthichai
    I think what Fr Roth is trying to say is that there is no need for special Masses for dissenting groups. Please read:- http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations… The Mass is not about promoting dissident views. As Daphne McLeod mentioned in a previous comment, she is aware of homosexuals who do not seek out Masses which promote dissent. They simply attend ordinary Masses in their own parishes and try, with the help of God's grace, to live by the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, as all sinners are called to do.

  • EditorCT

    terenceweldon,

    This notion that the Church is or should be some kind of democratic club where we all have a say in what is taught, is patently ridiculous. I have no idea of your age, so must make allowances for the fact that there has been no substantial or even remotely accurate teaching in Catholic schools or parishes since “that Council.” Maybe you've grown up in this era of confusion into chaos, in which case there is some excuse for your theologically untenable views.

    The Church, the early Christians believed, was the reason God created the world. He didn't create the world (or, if you must, leave it to make itself over trillions of years – yeah right) and then chuck in the Church for good measure. (cf no. 760, I think, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “God created the world for the sake of His Church – to give everyone a share in His divine life” From memory but that is the sense of the CCC on the subject.)

    In the simplest possible terms, God reveals His will to us through the Church, as long as it is teaching what has been believed from the beginning. He's not revealing to us that any old religion will do, because, whatever the ecumenists tell you, the Church has ALWAYS condemned false religions, from the beginning. And, from the beginning the sexual aberrations that are now almost mandatory in our society – contraception, abortion, sodomy – have ALWAYS been condemned by the followers of Christ. So, sorry terenceweldon, we can't just take a show of hands on the matter. The Soho Masses are an almighty scandal and the Archbishop is totally, one hundred percent in the wrong to permit them to continue. Puts a massive question mark over his mitre. Massive.

    Catholics must accept that Christ meant it when He promised to be with his apostles – that is, His teaching Church – until the end of time. Those who don't are, de facto, Protestants.

  • terenceweldon

    I have not suggested or implied that the Church should be democratic club: but ir is most certainly more than just the cardinals and bishops. The idea that teaching must have the support of all the faithful or is not valid is completely orthodox Catholic teaching.

    Frankly I find your personal remarks and assumptions about my background completely offensive, and will have no futher part in this discussion.

  • Thegrassysageknoll

    Terrance, you really need to read the bible one of these days before making rash comments like the one above. I suggest 1 Rom: 23-28.

    If you cannot accept the teachings of the Catholic faith with the same submission as the saints, then please do yourself a favour and don't pretend to be a Catholic. Even most Protestants have the humility to accept that homosexual acts are sinful and contradict the plan of God for men and women.

  • TeeEarls

    There are a few comments I want to summarise and respond to, because I think this is an unhealthy direction these comments are taking. I believe there are a few things all people here would agree upon – these are my assumptions and the basis for my rationale. First, Jesus himself ministered to all and quite explicitly rejected the alternatives. Secondly, each of us is a sinner and Jesus deliberately warns each of us not to judge others, lest we be judged ourselves. Third, placing oneself in the presence of the Eucharist and participating in the holy Mass works mysteries and we do not pretend to understand how God works; we do believe that by participating and remaining open to His will, we are enriched and have a better chance of leading a holy life.

    I believe the fundamental concern of those opposed to the twice-monthly Mass is that it appears that the Diocese and those participating flaunt the teachings of the Church, and therefore are making a mockery of the Holy Mass. This is certainly a serious concern and one that deserves exploration. Let’s break down the typical Sunday experience at the Soho Masses into several components: (a) the Mass itself; (b) the attendees; (c) the after-Mass tea and coffee social. When we examine the Mass itself, it passes with high marks – everyone should be perfectly satisfied that it is a completely regular Mass, relevant homilies and much the same as you would find anywhere. So that would seem to indicate the concerns relate more to the attendees or to the tea and biscuit social in the hall after Mass. When one looks at the usual attendees, one sees a cross-section of people typical of Soho – singles and couples of all races, ages and genders. Are some of these people chaste? Are some of these people gay? Are some of these people straight? Are some of these people sexually active? I’m sure the answer is yes to all of those questions. But I doubt any of those answers indicate why most of these people come to the Mass. From what I can tell, people come to be closer to God, to participate in the sacrifice of the Mass, to be part of the holy, catholic and apostolic church, and to celebrate in fellowship as Jesus intended. So I can’t see that any well-formed Christian would find offense or want to exclude people who seek to be closer to God in such a manner. So this leaves us with concerns over the tea and biscuit social held after Mass in the church hall. Do people socialise, chat, share in fellowship with others, and discuss current affairs? I imagine so. Are there secret meetings to plot an overthrow of the diocese? I imagine not. Similar to how any after-church social might raise topics where individuals express a personal opinion different from – or in line with – the Vatican’s stand on a particular topic (women priests, birth control within marriage, etc.), these personal conversations surely could come up. I see no causal relationship to whether a Mass should be celebrated or not.

    Let’s assume for a moment that everyone involved in these discussions wants what truly is best for the church, for all the individuals involved, and to be as close to holiness as possible. We are all sinners and not one of us is perfect, so let’s drop the holier-than-thou attitudes. I would guess that most people here in these comments most likely consider themselves Catholic. It is a testament to the universal church that such a wide range of diverse opinions exists and that dialogue amongst the faithful can take place. Is the Roman Catholic Church a democracy? Of course not. That does not mean that the church itself – the whole of its peoples – should never discuss issues. I would argue that we owe it to ourselves and to the institution we love to question ourselves, our motivations, our biases, the world around us, the principles Jesus lived and preached on this earth – and through that process, strive to improve and help shepherd and navigate the whole church as it itself evolves in the ever-changing world. Do we as individual people own the final decision at any moment in time? No. But do we have a moral obligation to use our God-given intellect and reasoning to strive for the best, most just, and truest approach to modelling ourselves and our church after Jesus’s life and preaching? Absolutely.

    I would summarise Soho Masses as a twice-monthly gathering, open to all, and ministering to the numerous LGBT Catholics in the area. Just as with any cross-section of Mass attendees at any parish in the area, not all of these LGBT Catholics are the same, and not all share identical views, lead identical lifestyles or are at the same stage of faith formation. But a common bond that does hold them together is a desire to grow closer to Jesus and to remain engaged instead of distanced from the Roman Catholic Church. I am sure Jesus welcomes this!

  • Kevin

    TeeEarls
    I find your contribution to this debate one of the unhealthiest so far. Although couched in calm and measured and reasonable-sounding terms, once again, as with Terence Weldon, you have introduced this 'Vatican stand' myth into the equation – as though the teaching found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is merely a 'Vatican stand' which can be open to debate/rejection, according to one's personal desires. Please read this document which gives the correct attitude that Catholics should have to Catholic teaching:- http://www.adoremus.org/RatCom1098.html Also, you overlook the fact that it has been proven that dissent from Catholic teaching has been promoted during the SMPC Mass itself, also dissent has been blatantly promoted in the SMPC newsletter, on its website, and dissenting books have been sold/promoted after Mass during the tea/coffee period, also, meetings have been arranged with dissident speakers – either in person or on video – the list goes on. For a group which supposedly prides itself on being 'inclusive' – the one group to have been noticeably excluded from the Masses (they have never been promoted in the newsletter, or mentioned in any way, although dissenting groups have always been promoted) is EnCourage – the Catholic group for homosexuals who wish to live in accordance with the teachings of the Church – the Universal Church, that is, not some local group which claims to be part of the Church while rejecting Her teachings. Odd that, isn't it. Clearly, inclusivity doesn't like to stretch to include those committed to orthodoxy/orthopraxis. And that is not a 'holier than thou' attitude – to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church, as best we can, whatever our different struggles may be, always with the help of God's grace – without which we can do nothing – is the ONLY way to achieve holiness in this life and eternal salvation in the next.

  • TeeEarls

    Kevin, the last part of your post I think summarizes thoughts quite well: “to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church, as best we can, whatever our different struggles may be, always with the help of God's grace – without which we can do nothing – is the only way to achieve holiness in this life and eternal salvation in the next.” That's exactly the sentiment I would encourage people to have. I would also caution that those of us who sit and presume to act as judge and jury for others' motives, struggles, private behaviours, etc. do so at our own peril. Quite frankly, you or anyone else know nothing of my state of grace, struggles, sins, challenges, and successes, just like I know nothing of yours. As such, it strikes me as dangerous to presume this knowledge and make gross stereotypes based on these assumptions. There is nothing at Mass that “promotes” dissent and to state otherwise is simply false! On the contrary, we are called to lead our lives to the best of our ability and Mass encourages this. You make a good contribution to mention EnCourage and I see no reason why this would or should be excluded from making sure Mass attendees are aware of this resource. It seems that when the essence of this discussion is boiled down, it comes down to whether a group of people of a typically under-ministered minority should be encouraged to come together in fellowship periodically to worship and celebrate Mass. I simply lack understanding why there appears to be such an aversion to this and why people professing to be Christian spend enormous energy on this topic, instead of devotinig a fraction of that energy practicing what Jesus actually taught as important, such as ministry to the sick, visiting those in prison, clothing the naked, and feeding the hungry.

    I'm not going to engage in further discussion board posts on this, since I've articulated my perspective and have no desire to get into personal arguments. I continue to welcome the prayers for anyone who wishes to pray for my salvation – that's never going to hurt – and I will continue to do the same for you.

  • Kevin

    I'm sorry Tee, but you state “There is nothing at Mass that “promotes” dissent and to state otherwise is simply false!” You cannot accuse me of speaking falsely as I have solid evidence to the contrary. Dissent is promoted at the Soho Mass in various ways, and as I say, I have solid, written evidence. I do not act as 'judge and jury' but if people openly proclaim that they reject Catholic teaching on homosexuality or anything else come to that, then I have to take them at their word. Not to do that would be to defy reason.

  • EditorCT

    terenceweldon,

    You are making the fundamental mistake of thinking that Our Lord did not speak about issues such as homosexuality, abortion, contraception etc. We hear this all the time from people who do not understand either the nature of Sacred Scripture or the nature of the Church. Christ did, indeed, speak about all of these moral issues. Yip. He did. Loud and clear. He said to His teaching Church: “He that hears you, hears Me” – clear as the proverbial bell.

  • EditorCT

    Well said, Thegrassysageknoll !

  • EditorCT

    Inigo,

    The Soho Masses are a scandal for a number of reasons, not least because the priests and Archbishop Nichols are actively encouraging people who are living in objective mortal sin, to receive Holy Communion. That is, assuming that the Masses are valid which, frankly, I would doubt. The priests – I believe – are notoriously pro-homosexual which makes their own situation questionable and it is at least doubtful whether or not they believe what the Church teaches about the Mass. Can their intention really be to offer the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary on the altar?

    By having “Masses for homosexuals” these priests and Archbishop Nichols are giving the impression that this grave sin of sodomy is now acceptable and that the Church's “current” rule (as they wrongly see God's moral law) might change to approve this sin, traditionally described as one of the four “sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance” – so serious is it.

    And no, there is no bigger threat to the Church than blatant heresy and dissent. That's why God gave us a Pope and bishops to protect our souls for this kind of poison.

    You listening, Archbishop Nichols?

  • EditorCT

    terenceweldon,

    You are making another common mistake, confusing the sensus fidelium (the sense of the Faith/Faithful, the Catholic sense) with the Modernist error that to be valid, a Catholic teaching must “have the support of the faithful”.

    Two entirely different things. Here's the test. The Faithful include the Church Triumphant in Heaven, the Church Suffering in Purgatory and the Church Militant on earth – from the first century until the present time. Thus, those of us who hold firmly to what the Church has always taught, to what the Faithful have always believed, those in Heaven and Purgatory and from the beginning of the Church: WE display that Catholic sense, that “sense of the Faith or Faithful”. Those who go for the latest novelty, who embrace dissent have placed themselves outside of the Church. End of.

    And who cares if you are offended because I thought you may be too young to remember normality before Vatican II. I wish someone would make the same assumption about me. I'd add them to my Christmas card list in a heartbeat.

  • EditorCT

    Ritthichai

    No informed Catholic believes that Archbishop Nichols is even remotely “right wing” – he's a Modernist to his finger tips. Those who fell for his attendances at the Latin Mass Society courses at Oxford in response to Summorum Pontifium can be categorised, as the Communists ever did with their ignorant supporters, as “useful idiots”.

    And I'm not sure what you are getting at with your “he's probably embarrassed” comment – he's certainly not embarrassed about the scandalous Soho Masses or he would put an end to them. That fact that he is continuing to permit them – which is to condone and approve them – comes as no surprise to any truly informed Catholic in the UK. I'll put it no more strongly than that, she said naughtily…