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Have the Soho Masses really been stopped? Their organisers are delighted: they have been put in charge of the new regime, and are bent on growth

They won’t be organising Masses for themselves: they say they’ll just take over what’s already provided in Farm Street

By on Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Soho Masses community is moving to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street

The Soho Masses community is moving to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street

I don’t like writing successive blogs on the same subject, it makes one look obsessive. But my last post and various responses to it have increasingly brought me up against a nasty question, which I need seriously to address as a matter of urgency: have I mistaken as to the real meaning of Archbishop Nichols’s recent démarche in apparently “stopping” the Soho Masses?

Those most closely involved certainly seem to think so. “RIP Soho Masses: Long Live Soho Masses!” swaggers the headline on the website “Queering the Church”. On his own website, Protect the Pope, which I always take seriously, Deacon Nick might almost be addressing me personally: “An appeal to The Catholic Herald and Catholic clergy bloggers,” he ends his last PTP post. “Please don’t be taken in by the spin, and report what’s really going on behind the transfer to Farm Street. Why aren’t you reporting that the Soho Masses Pastoral Council has not been disbanded? This is the Gordian knot that has not been cut.”

Well, Deacon Nick is quite right to bring that crucial fact to our attention. Not only is it true: the SMPC itself is jubilant about the whole thing, and is even, unwisely perhaps, and I hope prematurely, actually bragging about precisely that, as though it were (as it may well be) a great coup: “The opposition are crowing with delight,” boasts SMPC member Terence Weldon, in an article headlined “To Soho Mass Foes: ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’”, that we (their “foes”) suppose that the Soho Masses are being shut down – “but we are not. We are simply being moved, to a situation which in many respects offers far more opportunities for … further growth and development. We will be meeting not just twice a month, we will have far better meeting facilities, we will have far superior structures and opportunities for growth in faith and spirituality, and for meeting and engaging with other Catholics, many of whom could thereby become straight allies.”

And they won’t have the responsibility of organising fortnightly Masses: they’ll just take over the weekly Mass already provided. Weldon goes on to draw attention to the words of Archbishop Nichols’s statement: “I am, therefore, asking the group which has, in recent years, helped to organise the celebration of Mass on two Sundays of each month at Warwick Street, now to focus their effort on the provision of pastoral care.”

Terence Weldon comments: “Now, look again at the words of his statement: ‘The group which has helped to organise…’ that’s the existing SMPC, including me, as he knows only too well (the opposition have reminded him, frequently, of the ‘heretic and homosexualist blogger’ in our midst).”

He again quotes Archbishop Nichols: “This includes many of the activities which have recently been developed and it is to be conducted fully in accordance with the teaching of the Church.”

“Ah!”, ripostes Weldon, “Precisely, those activities that I described, in my posts and in my letter [to the archbishop]“?

“Such pastoral care [the archbishop’s statement again] will include support for growth in virtue and holiness.” “Is this threatening to you?” Weldon asks Soho Mass attenders. “I don’t think so… So – what about that ‘faithful to Church teaching’?

“It’s instructive to note also, what +V did NOT say.”

Weldon then outlines this as follows (I reproduce it verbatim, complete with his original bullet points):

“ • He did not “abolish” the SMPC (“Soho Masses Pastoral Council
• He said that we would not “organise” the Masses – he said absolutely nothing about contributing to them, making them our own, ensuring their relevance to our needs, singing, reading etc. (my emphasis)
• He said absolutely nothing condemnatory of the Masses or of our behaviour and activity.
• He did not withdraw our status as the Diocesan Pastoral Provision.
• His [statement] did not respond directly to the points I initially raised in objection to the move – … but careful reading of his text shows that he heard them.
• He did not say that he was under pressure from Rome – in fact the only remotely relevant comment he made to me is that Archbishop Müller is a very reasonable man.

“I would add,” continues Weldon, “he did not define ‘virtue and holiness’ – leaving that to our own interpretation. [my emphasis]. Nor did he spell out what he meant by “church teaching”. If he meant by that (which I think is unlikely) spelling out the Catechism rules on sexual behaviour, I would be entirely prepared to present, fully, what those rules are, provided that this is done on a completely non-discriminatory way.” In other words, in a way which makes it clear they don’t have to pay any attention to them.

Have we — have I — been taken in by the “stopping” of the Soho Masses? Are they simply being moved across town, and given improved facilities and greater frequency? That is the real question. I would, of course, like an answer to it from some authoritative person in the Westminster archdiocese though I don’t suppose I will ever get one.

But I have already had my answer from the SMPC. Meanwhile, have a look at this, from the Quest website: it’s an article entitled “Epiphany: Soho Masses Community Celebrate the Feast of Coming Out”. It ends with the following words: “We’re here, and not going away. Not under sentence of execution – but moving on, into a new and stronger, probably expansionary phase of our development.”

We can’t say we haven’t been warned.

  • GratefulCatholic

    What you “will be doing”, by going forward at Mass and taking the Body and Blood of our Lord in such a state of Mortal Sin, is digging yourself (and the priest who encourages you) deeper into Damnation. Catholics though, still pray for your eventual repentance and Salvation.

  • Deacon_Augustine

    Unfortunately, Mr Oddie, they will not be in trouble because they are no longer under Vin’s jurisdiction – he can wash his hands of them – and the Jebbies haven’t given a fig about anything that comes out of Rome for decades.

    Unless Westminster and the Jesuits simultaneously suffer an unexpected dose of orthodoxy, we can look forward to seeing another Mass and another church becoming an occasion of sin and scandal.

  • Winston

    Yes, someone has demonstrated a mastermind capacity; enhance the gay masses and drop another cross to bear on the Ordinariate.

  • Polly The Parrot

    Moving the so-called ‘gay masses’ to another location within the Archdiocese of Westminster is merely spreading the problem and not solving it – rather like those errant bishops who transferred dodgy priests from one parish to another.

    I pray that the parishoners of the Immaculate Conception RC Church will make their feelings known to said archbishop. I, for one, would not like this sort of thing to happen in my parish!

    The CDF should do more than slap Archbishop Nicholls’ wrist.

  • Fairy Nuff


  • Polly the Parrot

    Stop! Stop! Wait a second.

    Your own repository? That’s interesting.

    What will be on the table that can’t be available from the Catholic Truth Society or any other repository?

  • Polly the Parrot

    Your counterparts in the USA have caused grief, harm, hurt and sacrilege to innocent parishoners and clergy during Holy Mass with your so-called ‘challenging’ attitudes.

    You feel you have the right to say heinous, vile things about the Holy Father, the Church and Her Teachings but you can’t take it when anyone criticises you. You spit the dummy at every opportunity and cry ‘homophobia!’. The media and politicians are too blind to realise what harm you are doing. They think they are being edgy and inclusive. Bullying and tiresome, more like, for the vast majority of us ‘straight’ people!

    You do not have the upper hand and the Church – which Christ built upon a rock – will never bow down to you.

    The Church’s teachings are from God. End of story. So, protest all you like. You’ll be wasting your time.

  • Polly the Parrot


  • Polly

    Errors? What errors?

  • Polly

    Grief! You are something else, if not delusional and condescending!

  • Polly

    Please God, not before time!

  • Polly

    Bravo, pp!

  • teigitur

    That is a RITE now. Just like the LATIN rite or the BYZANTINE or AMENIAN. Are you suggesting there should be a GAY rite?

  • teigitur

    If you really want them to be and with God s help they can be overcome. Mostly.Of course we are human, but when we fall we start over, and over……

  • Gildaswiseman

    Well done! I sometimes can’t believe we are having these debates in the Church. Call me old fashioned but I suspect that if we all attended the Tridentine Mass this problem would not exist. It is clear that there are those who call good evil and evil good. They should heed the warning regarding this, do you not agree?

  • liquafruta

    It is still making a special case for a minority group and, of course, I am not suggesting a gay rite. It is you who is obsessed with gay people (of whom there are a lot more in our church than members of the new RITE (the capitals are yours. I am surmising in case those of us of inferior intellect don’t understand the words in small letters)

  • JabbaPapa

    You cannot challenge doctrines that belong to the Deposit of the Faith — you can only disobey them, and lead yourself out of Communion with the Holy Church.

    Or, just misinterpret and misunderstand them …

  • Sandy

    Satan is real and he is cunning.

  • JabbaPapa

    Yes, he is a bit light on the specifics, isn’t he …

  • Patrickhowes

    An excellent post!

  • Patrickhowes

    Mr Oddie will you kindly stop making childish threats to people.If you do not like the situation then write to Your Bishop and failing that to the CDF but kindly refrain from threatening people.You could get yourself in to a lot of trouble!

  • JabbaPapa

    Good grief, are you sure that having a hissy fit in public is an appropriate response ?

  • Patrickhowes

    Vlid point.Deviuosly Vin Nichols has moved the problem under the jurisdiction of the Scoeity of Jesus.Yet they cannot defy Catholic Teaching!

  • Caroline Farrow

    Bravo Polly, or is it “Fairy Nuff”, “Polly the Parrot”, “Rizzo the Bear” or “Honeybadger”.

    Kindred spirits, I see. 

    Sometimes I think that the comments thread on the Catholic Herald are extremely poor “Catholic witness”, being utterly devoid in charity. 

  • Alan

    The more people bang on about the iniquities of homosexuality, the more the great majority of sexual evils in our society (promiscuity, “one-night stands”, “casual sex”, etc., mostly by heterosexuals of all ages) will be overlooked.
    As for the “gay masses” allegedly condoning homosexual practice, we do not know and should not judge the behaviour of individuals.  We are all sinners, and sexual sins, homosexual or otherwise, are simply one kind.