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Archbishop Nichols ends ‘Soho Masses’ after six years

By on Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Archbishop Nichols (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Archbishop Nichols (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has announced that Masses in Soho organised for gay people are to end.

He also revealed that the church where the Masses took place will be entrusted to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

The fortnightly “Soho Masses” at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Warwick Street were established by the diocese almost six years ago. They were intended to be “particularly welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, their parents, friends and families”.

Archbishop Nichols said today that, while the Masses will stop, pastoral care of the community will continue at the Jesuit Farm Street church in Mayfair on Sunday evenings.

He also announced that in Lent Our Lady of the Assumption church will be “dedicated to the life” of the ordinariate. The archbishop said: “I hope that the use of this beautiful church, in which the young John Henry Newman first attended Mass, will enable Catholics in the ordinariate to prosper and to offer to others the particular gifts of the ordinariate.”

A statement from the Soho Masses Pastoral Council, which organised the Masses, said: “Following several weeks of reflection on the benefits and potential challenges which it represents to our pastoral outreach to the LGBT Catholic Community on behalf of the Diocese of Westminster, the Soho Masses Pastoral Council is pleased to accept Archbishop Vincent Nichols’ invitation to transfer our base of activity from the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory to the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Farm Street.

“We are also very grateful to the Jesuit Community at Farm Street for the welcome and hospitality they have offered there as well as to the Provincial and Superior of the Society.

“The purpose of the Soho Masses has been, and remains, to encourage the LGBT Catholic Community to participate fully in the life of the Church, the diverse body of Christ, through participation in the Mass, and through shared prayer. In this we have become victims of our own success, in terms of the number of people who have joined the Eucharistic community of our congregation.

“This means that, while the body of the church in Warwick Street is still adequate to our number, the lack of other facilities in the 18th-century building has become a limiting factor in organising social and pastoral activity and prayer, in particular for elderly, infirm or disabled people.

“We therefore look forward with much anticipation to the opportunity of using the greater space offered by the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and, since we have kindly been relieved of our responsibility of organising the Mass, to respond positively to the archbishop’s challenge to develop our pastoral work in this ‘new phase’ of our peripatetic existence.

“The Masses at Farm Street will, clearly, continue to be at the heart of our life in communion, and of our pastoral activity, and we look forward to participating fully in them. We are sure those priests with connections to Farm Street who have ministered to us at Warwick Street in the past will make us feel especially welcome.

“Our only reservation regarding the transfer of base is that our title becomes somewhat of a misnomer, in that we shall be in Mayfair, rather than in Soho. However, given the value of the title ‘Soho Masses’ we shall continue to use it.”

Statement from the Diocese of Westminster
2 January 2013

Pastoral Care

1. Many people come to the Church with the hope of finding understanding, compassion, mercy and truth. The Church endeavours to respond to their hope through the provision of pastoral care. For many years now the Diocese of Westminster has sought to extend the pastoral care of the Church to those who experience same-sex attraction. This care has been motivated by an awareness of the difficulties and isolation they can experience and by the imperative of Christ’s love for all. In recent years this pastoral care has focused on the celebration of Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Warwick Street.

2. Over these years, the situation of people with same-sex attraction has changed both socially and in civil law. However the principles of the pastoral care to be offered by the Church and the Church’s teaching on matters of sexual morality have not. First among the principles of pastoral care is the innate dignity of every person and the respect in which they must be held. Also, of great importance, is the teaching of the Church that a person must not be identified by their sexual orientation . The moral teaching of the Church is that the proper use of our sexual faculty is within a marriage, between a man and a woman, open to the procreation and nurturing of new human life. As I stated in March 2012, this means ‘that many types of sexual activity, including same-sex sexual activity, are not consistent with the teaching of the Church. No individual, bishop, priest or lay-person, is in a position to change this teaching of the Church which we hold to be God-given.’ (Catholic Herald article 17 March 2012). This is the calling to which we must all strive.

3. At this point, and after six years of the pastoral care offered at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, it is time for a new phase. Two considerations give shape to this new phase. The first is to recall that the original aim of this pastoral provision at Warwick Street was to enable people with same-sex attraction ‘to enter more fully into the life of the Church’ ‘specifically within the existing parish structures’ (Diocese of Westminster press statement 2 Feb 2007). The second is the importance of recognising that there is a distinction to be made between the pastoral care of a particular group and the regular celebration of the Mass. The Mass is always to retain its essential character as the highest prayer of the whole Church. This ‘universal’ character of the Mass is to be nurtured and clearly expressed in the manner of every celebration. The purpose of all pastoral care, on the other hand, is to encourage and enable people, especially those who are in difficult circumstances, to come to participate fully and worthily in the celebration of the Mass in the midst of the whole Church, the people summoned by the Lord to give him, together, worthy service and praise.

4. 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. 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. Such pastoral care will include support for growth in virtue and holiness, the encouragement of friendship and wider community contacts, always with the aim of helping people to take a full part in the life of the Church in their local parish community. It will not include the organisation of a regular Mass. In order to assist in this important work, I am grateful to the Jesuit Fathers of the Parish of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street who have agreed to make premises available on Sunday evenings and are ready to extend a welcome to this group. I have asked Mgr Seamus O’Boyle to continue to offer my support and guidance for this group.

5. At the same time, the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is being dedicated to the life of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham for their groups in central London. I hope that the use of this beautiful Church, in which the young John Henry Newman first attended Mass, will enable Catholics in the Ordinariate to prosper and to offer to others the particular gifts of the Ordinariate.

6. These new arrangements are to come into effect during Lent 2013.

An account of how the “gay-friendly” Masses first began can be read here.

  • 2xwalkers

    WOW!!!  great to have an archbishop that teaches his catholic faith. Great blessings for his followers.

  • MattSP

    God Bless Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/terri.hemker Terri Hemker

    Archbishop, if you’re going to be closed-minded, would you mind being closed-mouthed as well? Please?????

  • Rsmyth75

    Gothic or not, this was the church in which the young St John Henry Newman first attended Mass!!! It will become a shrine to his memory and a place of pilgrimage!!! God always makes straight with our crooked lines!!! England will one day be Mary’s Dowry again!!!

  • teigitur

    Why would there be altar servers, collections etc on a weekday?

  • teigitur

    Yes Kevin, really. It was the “liberaL” Bishops who thought no rules applied to them that moved the offenders around, making a bad situation much worse. I lived in Dublin for 25 years and could count on my one hand the number of decent sermons I heard. The schools have not got a clue when passing on faith and proper formation in the seminaries was non-existant, and I count a couple of Priests amongst my friends there.
     The road to recovery will be a long hard one there for the Church.

  • Dee

    .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. 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. Such pastoral care will include support for growth in virtue and holiness, the encouragement of friendship and wider community contacts, always with the aim of helping people to take a full part in the life of the Church in their local parish community. It will not include the organisation of a regular Mass. In order to assist in this important work, I am grateful to the Jesuit Fathers of the Parish of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street who have agreed to make premises available on Sunday evenings and are ready to extend a welcome to this group. I have asked Mgr Seamus O’Boyle to continue to offer my support and guidance for this group.

  • Peter

    This the only sensible comment here, and I have read them all. Reading all the hypocritical hatred tells me that there are no real Catholics subscribing to this website. And I used to think Muslims were the most backward and bloodthirsty. If someone feels the need to worship, then worship. But don’t worship under the banner of a gay man, or a redhead, or someone who is left-handed, or someone who is blind. Just go to your local church, or one whose architectural assets appeal the most (Gothic/English Gothic/whatever). 

  • JabbaPapa

    Rubbish.

  • midnightblue

    Right!

  • Gildaswiseman

    9 Know you not that the unjust shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,10 nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians, 9:10
    Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.  Love does not come to an end.  Second Reading 2 of St Paul to the Corinthians 12:31- 13:8
    The truth is of course that homosexual activity has always been condemned as wholly sinful in the Bible and in the teaching of the Church. Love God, Love each other in truth. not in falsehood. Pastoral care for sinners is the Sacrament of Penance and the propitiatory Sacrifice of the Mass. This is where we sinners find redemption. 
     If this pastoral care is to be genuine then every sign of dissension has to be forbidden. If a priest at Farm Street is aware that members of this organisation are not chaste and are living in a civil union or openly sexual partnership then they must be refused the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but of course invited, encouraged, to seek reconciliation through the Sacrament of Confession and to change their life styles. All we sinners have to do this if we wish to save our souls.
    Maybe the organisation of the en-courage apostolate might be invited to assist in the pastoral care; though maybe they will not wish to mingle with people who have similar sexual orientation and therefore not put temptation in their way.

  • Gildaswiseman

    Brief but true!

  • Alexander VI

    So good to see that that the gay masses have now been moved to Farm Street.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Oh don’t be so precious! If it’s the one I think you’re referring to, I read it, saw that you were just repeating your usual stuff with some additional misrepresentations of my arguments, realized that we’d got to the stage of no more reply functions on disqus (because we’d been going at it for so long), and couldn’t be bothered going on. I thought it was rather gallant of me to let you have the last word!

    Much though I do enjoy the occasional combox spat, these things do have to end sometime. Don’t you have galaxies to conquer, facial hair treatments to book?

  • cewubaaca

    fair enough.
    Ever seen a wookie with a brazilian?

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    The stuff of nightmares! (Please don’t feel you have to post a picture of one!)

  • Gildaswiseman

    possibly with a get out of jail card

  • http://www.catholicyouthwork.com Catholic Youth Work

    No, it’s not.

    And that is a shocking example of isolating a passage from it’s context. Read the whole chapter: Paul is talking about those who have fallen from grace…

  • Peter

    I think this has been a wise move by the powers that be – do you really for one moment believe that Archbishop Nichols came up with this on his own? Gay people do not belong on organised religion. The 400 or so people who have been been refused Mass, will come to terms with it eventually and move on. And the church will remain as it is, promoting it’s own brand of hate.

  • Gildaswiseman

    LOL

  • Gildaswiseman

    Oh boy! This is a Council document that has caused huge difficulties within the Church. It is full of ambiguities and “time bombs”. These was deliberately inserted by progressive theologians so that it could be read in different ways, but unfortunately, mostly in the liberal and modernist manner.The so called Spirit of the Council.  It appears to contradict the entire teaching of the perennial Magisterium.

    Make no mistake there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church. This is a doctrine and cannot be changed. The Church of Christ is the Catholic Church. nothing else is. The different ecclesiastical communities have kept a number of traditions belonging to the Catholic Church, though some more perfectly than others. However they are separated from the Church and therefore the differing communities cannot save souls.(This does not mean that participants in these communities automatically lose their souls)
    If Lumen Gentium is read as a contradiction of this doctrine then it is being read incorrectly. The first chapter makes it clear that the Catholic Church is the one true Church, however the subsits in clause causes has caused an incorrect understanding in the minds of many Catholics.

     The traditional teaching of the Church, regarding the practice, and due punishment of sexual relations between persons of the same gender, has the continuous support of Popes,Father’s of the Church,Ecumenical Councils, saints, and great theologians, One would shudder in one’s boots to ignore their condemnations.

  • PaulHalsall

    So you dissent from the clear teaching of a Church council, like the Lefevrists.

    And there were lots of gay saints – St. John the Beloved, St. Augustine, John Henry Newman, Ven Paul VI. and so on.

    Lots of gay religious – like half the Dominican order. Many Jesuits. Many Allen Hall and Wonersh grads. And, especially among those who promote the old Latin rite.

    And  Ratzinger should perhaps stop wearing Prada shoes.

  • PaulHalsall

    They should leave and enter an Anglican ordinariate.

  • PaulHalsall

    Newman was gay.

  • PaulHalsall

    In his effort to get a red hat?  Careerism at its worst.

  • PaulHalsall

    The Bible never condemns slavery. No pope did, unilaterallly, until John Paul II.  

    The Bible gets things wrong.

  • W Oddie

    DRIVEL, DRIVEL, DRIVEL. This grotesque calumny has been definitively rebutted by  Fr  Ian Ker, Newmans’s defintive biographer, who really does know what he is talking about.

  • PaulHalsall

    Ker had an agenda.

    Newman had Fr. Ambrose, whose love he described as marital.

  • Max

     Please Archbishop Nichols you must speak out against The Liverpool Care Pathway elderly people are being Murdered in hospital because of their age . Doctors are getting a bonus for putting people on the Liverpool Care Pathway. Top Doctors have spoken out against it. I am asking you again PLEASE SPEAK OUT before any more elderly people die an agonizing death

  • Danny

    Word of caution: we must be vigilant against any violence or attack on the ordinariate when the gays get angry that their masses have stopped. 
    Were on earth is your Christian Love? probably in the same place your brain is.  Deal with your homophobia. 

  • Danny

    Bet the archbishop get’s a new hat for this.

  • Charles Martel

     twerp

  • Charles Martel

     Please take your queering elsewhere, Terry.

  • Danny

    Jesus chosen friends were the poor, the outcasts  the tax collectors all people who were marginalised by those who thought themselves better than others; He was considered a source of scandal, by the scribes and Pharisees.  As a Gay man who has in the past attended the Soho mass I believe I’m in good company.

  • rat

    A truly Macchiavalian solution. Vincent is keen on getting a red hat at the next consistory ( or sometime ever) this way everyone is pleased. CDF pandered to, LGTB community continued Masses and dating agency continued, critics silence, possibly the Pope duped into thinking concrete action in situ.
    Welcome to Blair’s version of English Catholicism, which is different than Roman Catholiscim, which Vincent was at pains to point out on the BBC post Pope Benedict’s visit.

  • http://twitter.com/torch621 Justin Jurek

    There’s a great difference between reaching out to bring the Gospel to homosexuals and actively celebrating it.

    The old “Jesus ate with sinners” excuse for celebrating sin needs to end.

  • JabbaPapa

    Doubling the number of “Gay ‘masses’ ” is unlikely to be helpful towards that purpose.

  • JabbaPapa

    No, not “DRIVEL” : b-word !!!

  • JabbaPapa

    The one with an “agenda” in here, darling, is the one staring at you in the mirror when you shave …

  • http://twitter.com/torch621 Justin Jurek

    Don’t you DARE suggest that those holy men and women were practicing homosexuals!

  • JabbaPapa

    What a load of rubbish !!!

  • JabbaPapa

    Except that nobody in here, I think, imagines themself as being “better than you”.

    Some of us, OTOH, might object fairly strongly to the parodies of the Mass that are being performed in your name

  • JabbaPapa

    Deal with your own homophilia instead of trying to shove it down our throats ?

  • Danny

    Jesus ate with people He Loved.  To sin is to love evil.  We should celebrate God’s diversity in His creation.

  • Danny

    I believe the mass is always performed in the name of Jesus Christ.

  • Danny

    maybe you would like to correct your comment. lol.

  • whytheworldisending

    34 million deaths is something to hate alright, but you can do this whilst loving and pitying the victims – not just sinners but all of them, including blameless women killed by their husband’s infidelity, and innocent suffering haemophiliacs betrayed by a government that just didn’t care about them. Lets not forget to pray for the 25 million people currently living with AIDS, and most importantly, the countless victims who will suffer because of this reckless governments promotion of promiscuity in all its guises. Hatred of evil is good.

  • whytheworldisending

    The Bible charts and points towards the dawning of the light of Christ into the world, and for 2,000 years, we can see that light at work in the world through the influence of the Holy Spirit. Of course, as it gets brighter, we see that certain things need changing. William Wilberforce was a Christian, but he had to campaign for decades in order to make the godless government of his day see what he could see. Governments get things wrong.

  • whytheworldisending

    I think you are right about the “mingling.” It is very hard to give up smoking or drugs if all of your friends smoke or use drugs. Alcohoics Anonymous is the way to go – if people want to abstain and/or change then they can support each other, but a club for alcoholics who like to stay alcohoics would simply descend deeper into addiction. Catholic membership of homosexual social groups should be conditional on acceptance of an express disavowal of sexual activity outside of church teachings. Anything less risks the subversion of those with real faith, by militant homosexuals posing as Catholics.

  • Inquisator

    I doubt that very much.  If I were working in law enforcement, there would be at least five individuals who regularly attend Sunday Mass at my Church who would more than certainly find themselves in a court!