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.
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.