U.K. Church Ends Tradition of Catholic Mass for Gays

For six years, gay Catholics have congregated at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in London’s Soho neighborhood for their own Catholic mass. But no more: the Archbishop of Westminster has asked service organizers to take their talents elsewhere, and the mass has met for the last time.

A mass for gay Catholics (via BBC)

The masses were a way for LGBT Catholics to express their faith even though other churches may not have accepted them:

Joe Stanley, chairman of Soho Masses Pastoral Council, said: “Because a lot of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people find a lot of difficulty in being open and honest in Church, what we offer here is the ability, twice a month, to come and stand openly and honestly and directly before God.”

Archbishop Vincent Nichols had allowed the services to continue as long as they “didn’t challenge church teaching.” (In other words, their homosexuality wasn’t an issue as long as they remained celibate.)

While some Catholic officials are still on board with the gay mass, this decision, first announced in early January, is yet another example of the Archbishop leading a Catholic movement against LGBT rights:

Monsignor Seamus O’Boyle, parish priest of Soho Mass, said: “To be able to reach out in love, which I think is what we have done, for me has been personally quite gratifying.

“To see this community grow, which it has, and to feel that they could come to church and be part of the church has been something quite marvellous, but it’s not construed that way by everyone else.”

Archbishop Nichols said: “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.”

The archbishop added: “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.”

Members of the congregation are being redirected to a church in Mayfair. The government in the United Kingdom is expected to make a decision on same-sex marriage by 2015; for these folks’ sake, I hope it passes. It won’t change the way the Church operates, but the new law would push it even further into obsolescence.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • Claude

    Because Jesus said: Feed my sheep.

  • pete084

    Meanwhile the Vatican fails to condemn, with the same vigour, the pederast priesthood: nice set of priorites!
    Priests fucking choirboys = okay.
    Loving same sex couples = a sin.

    And that explains the decline of the Catholic church.

    • Sindigo

      That’s how I shall explain it to my children. When they’re old enough. How I will explain that their cousins are still catholic is a problem, however.

  • L.Long

    The church is an even worse bunch of dimwits….

    1….If the Leviticus thing is about two males having sexual activities then the priests doing boys is punishable by DEATH. I’ve not seen anyone throwing stones!

    2….Two women loving each other is not against the buyBull in any way!! and 2 woman doing sexual activities with each other is not even mentioned in the buyBull, as far as I can find.

    3…Two men loving each other is also NOT A SIN according to the buyBull.

    4…Two males having sexual activities is at #1 above.

    But if you are a literalist then things get really strange.

    Leviticus says a man must not lay with a man as he would with a woman (sorta).
    BUT…
    When I lay with my wife I go to sleep, so if I lay with a man I must not sleep and having sexual activities is OK as I am NOT doing to the man what I do with a woman. And don’t give me the BS about ‘lay with’ means SEX!! How am I suppose to know that???
    If the buyBull can not speak in plain terms then its a bunch of silly metaphors so it does not mean anything except what I want it to mean.

    • Claude

      Also from Leviticus:

      The Lord told Moses to say to the community of Israel:

      If you curse your father or mother, you will be put to death, and it will be your own fault.

      Watch out kiddies!

  • WallofSleep

    Good. Just keep doing what you’re doing, Catholic Church, and I may yet live to see the end of your corrupt influence in this world.

  • Sven2547

    I’m trying to remember the last time I’ve heard of any Roman Catholic Diocese doing something positive from a policy standpoint.

  • http://www.facebook.com/guilberube Guillaume Bérubé

    No more mass for infertile married couples is what I get out of this.

  • smh

    Why does the catholic church take a stand against its homosexual lay members, but shelter its pedophile priests? How does the church figure a gay relationship between two consenting adults is more shameful than priests who forcibly have sex with minors? Religion sure does set the stage for strange and immoral policies. I can’t believe catholics go along with this crap thinking. Too many sheep and not enough rational humans among their members.

    • Tor

      The 16th-century hierarchy meets the 21st-century laity. It is not all love and roses.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Am I the only who thinks that’s an early indication of the direction a new Pope(whomever it shall be) will take the Church?

  • Kengi

    As the archbishop said, this isn’t about LGBT people. It’s about anyone who doesn’t follow church doctrine about “proper use of our sexual faculty” being only within marriage. That’s why the archbishop also banned all non-married people past puberty from attending mass.

    • Tor

      When put that way, celibacy is most certainly not in line with church doctrine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003507967305 Neal Lindberg

    I’m confused. So, Nichols expected the congregants of the gay mass to be celibate…okay, nothing surprising given the official Roman Catholic teaching on the issue. The article doesn’t mention any of the members breaking the expectations, so what’s his problem?

    I also don’t get how the passing of the law will push the Roman Catholic churches in the UK to marry same-sex couples (“push it further into obsolescence” as the author said). Does the UK law require that all religious institutions (including UK Muslims, Jews, etc) marry same-sex couples? Maybe I’m too used with the separation b/w church & state in North America…i mean not to long ago the UK parliament wanted to ban the Church of England from blessing same-sex marriage.

    • Erp

      I suspect the author meant it would be looked upon much like we look upon churches that still discriminate against people of other races. The law won’t force non Church of England churches to marry people and in fact requires the Church of England not to marry same-sex couples (this has to do with another law that requires the Church of England to marry people in their parish who want to and are legally able to marry even if they aren’t CoE [they don't even have to be Christian but the ceremony will be Christian] and that CoE canon law is English law and has to be approved by Parliament).

      I suspect the archbishop got some pressure from headquarters and the church in question is going to be used by the ‘Anglican Ordinate’. This is a group the Vatican set up for Anglicans (aka members of the Church of England) who want to join the Catholic Church en masse including priests (much to the dismay of a lot of English Catholics including the hierarchy since Ordinate members are usually far more conservative [despite some of the Ordinate priests being married] than your average Catholic [and also the Vatican apparently didn't consult the English Catholic hierarchy ahead of time]).

  • pagansister

    So the Archbishop feels that those who were attending mass were having sex during Mass and were therefore not celibate? ;-) How does he know that those attending Mass aren’t celibate? Some may be and some may not be—and it is no one’s business what they do. What a jerk!

  • Tor

    I’m sorry, but what did the congregants expect? They are in a closed, hierarchical homophobic situation. I’m surprised the masses lasted as long as they did. The Archbishop of San Francisco threw Dignity our of the church years ago.

  • DamondDaGreat

    Why even attempt to be part of an organization that goes against who you are? That’s kind of like me joining the KKK. I wonder how many catholics would be left if all the gays left the church??

  • Miss_Beara

    I do not understand how a person can be gay and still be a catholic. I am a straight female and the thought of belonging to the catholic church repulses me with all of their anti woman rhetoric, going so far as comparing women priests to pedophiles. After all of their anti gay talk, how can they still be catholic? I don’t get it…

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      People keep hoping what doesn’t work will somehow work. They keep going back to their abusive partners and spouses, going back to their drugs, going back to their childhood indoctrinations, hoping that they’ll get the good part and that the bad part won’t be so bad. Sometimes they don’t get sick of the bad part and leave; sometimes they just get used to accepting more and more of the bad part, and somehow still be satisfied with less and less of the good part.

      We adapt and adjust and endure again and again in tiny increments until we’re way out on a thin limb.

    • Claude

      Andrew Sullivan is gay and Catholic and consistently posts about his situation and Christianity more generally (as well as everything else under the sun) on his blog.

      Also, the Catholic Church is not the hierarchy but the whole community of professed Catholic believers. There is obviously a big disconnect, at least in the United States, between the Vatican and the laity. But the bishops are controlled by Rome.

  • jbell

    Another bad move by the church. Anyone who has attended a church that openly accepts gay people knows that they are extremely generous with their money, time, and talents. They were always the go-to people for organizing fundraisers and such. Yes, the church rejecting certain people is abhorrent, but wow, they have no idea what they have lost in their ongoing obsession to be “pure”.
    Come on over to our side! It’s better here!


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