Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Gay Masses Approved By The Vatican??

Just before the Holy Father arrived, I listened again to the Radio 4 programme, The Pope's British Divisions. No, not because I wanted to hear myself again... Seriously, though, there was quite a lot to take in, especially the dire state of catechesis in the country which leaves sixth formers convinced that you can be both pro-abortion and a practising Catholic.

But I was struck by a comment made to the people protesting outside the Soho Masses. Mark Dowd told them that these Masses, for the LGBT community, were approved by the Vatican.

For those of my readers who are a little unclear, LGBT isn't a sandwich - that's a BLT - but it stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered.

Why anyone would want to go to a church while declaring their sexual orientation to all and sundry is beyond my comprehension. I don't describe myself as a heterosexual when I go to Mass... or when I do anything else, for that matter. My sexuality is my private business, and I don't feel the need to label myself with it.

Listening more carefully to the interview, I was struck by the following exchange:

[Mark Dowd] So did the parish priest, Mgr Seamus O’Boyle, get the all-clear from Rome for this controversial service?

[Fr O’Boyle] Well obviously, when you do something like this, some Catholics don’t like the idea; some priests wouldn’t like the idea of it, so, inevitably, Rome is aware: and the guidelines that we prepared were actually sent for comment to Rome so that Rome was aware, also able to say “Yea” or “Nay” and I have to say that at the time and certainly continually that Rome has been very supportive

[Mark Dowd] Is this at just some junior level or pretty high up?

[Fr O’Boyle] No that would be quite high up, and particularly because at the time it was Cardinal Murphy O’Connor who was the Archbishop and he could talk cardinal to cardinal as it were and he was talking to Cardinal Levada who in a previous life had been the Archbishop of San Francisco, had an understanding...

[Mark Dowd] Is it likely that the Pope knows about this Mass?

[Fr O’Boyle] It wouldn’t surprise me, he knows Cardinal Levada very well. It could be that it has been mentioned;

Fr. Seamus O'Boyle is the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Westminster. So, presumably, he knows what he's talking about. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor had a chat with Cardinal Levada, and they had an understanding.

An understanding of what, exactly? And why was it necessary to talk cardinal-to-cardinal?

Terence, over at Queering the Church, appears to be convinced that Cardinal Levada has full knowledge of the "Gay" Masses (as some have taken to calling them.) He also writes that, responding to the observation that homosexual activity is contrary to church teaching, he had said in the interview:

"The simple fact is that across the world, Catholics disagree with, and do not comply with Church teaching – no, Vatican teaching – on a whole range of sexual ethics matters."

Quite apart from the dismissive "Vatican teaching" slur, I am rather concerned that his views are rather representative of the congregation. In other words, the Soho Masses are occasions where people who are openly flouting the teachings of the Church are going up to receive Holy Communion, and there is no apparent attempt to encourage them to examine their consciences.

Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying that people of a homosexual inclination are not able to receive Communion. I am stating the fact that anyone in a state of Mortal Sin is unable to receive Communion - and that applies whatever their sexual orientation, whether they are gay, straight or sexually aroused by high-heeled black leather boots. Homosexual activity is a Mortal Sin. Exactly the same applies, in case you hadn't realised it, to heterosexual activity, outside the marriage act which is open to procreation. That means contraception is out too.

Terence, on the other hand, appears to think that, just because people all over the world do not obey Church teaching, that makes it ok. It doesn't - people all over the world commit murder, but that doesn't mean we should allow it to go unchallenged.

The complaints about the Soho Masses have been pretty vociferous, mainly because, according to William Oddie in his recent article for the Catholic Herald,

"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."

Laurence England has an excellent post summarising the problems with the Soho Masses, and explaining why they are not truly pastoral.

Despite the growing scandal, in the interview with Mark Dowd, Archbishop Nichols makes it quite clear that he will continue to support the Soho Masses.

"Anybody who is trying to cast a judgement on the people who come forward for Communion really ought to learn to hold their tongue."

The problem is, of course, that we each ought to judge ourselves before coming forward to receive Communion. But, that assumes we have been properly instructed in the teachings of the Church. Sadly, it seems that catechesis is as inadequate at the Soho Masses as it has been in Catholic schools. Perhaps too many priests and bishops have been holding their tongues...


Ben Trovato said...

I dare bet that what the Vatican approved and what actually goes on are two different things...

Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

"For those of my readers who are a little unclear, LGBT isn't a sandwich "

Red wine on monitor!
Thanks for clearing that up Mac ( the confusion that is,not the red wine I sprayed on my monitor)

Terence said...

I am flattered that you have taken note of my writing. However, I must correct two fallacies in your post.

First, it is not true that attending these Masses is a declaration of any orientation. They have clearly been set up by as a Diocesan pastoral initiative aimed at the LGBT community, but this was quite explicitly within a parish context. Many of our congregation are indeed gay or lesbian, but by no means all are. We have many in our community who are in fact heterosexual, or who simply keep their orientation strictly private.

Further, it is incorrect to blithely assume that those of us who are gay, are therefore in a state of sin. Some do dissent openly from the Catechism on this, but others do aim to follow the teaching. Unlike some of our opponents who claim to have mingled with us and asked whether we adhere to church teaching, we would no more enquire about each others' sexual practices than we would enquire about them of parishioners in the more conventional parishes that we also attend.

I take offence at the suggestion that we are unfamiliar with Church teaching. I and many others have studied it closely, from the original documents, from extensive additional reading, and under expert spiritual direction.

However, unlike our very vocal critics, we have also considered the teaching on treating persons with a same sex orientation with respect, and the teachings on the vital importance of conscience, and of considering also the evidence from science, and on interpreting Scripture with a proper understanding of the historical and other contexts (see the Pontifical Biblical Commission) - and above all, the importance of not judging the internal state of another's soul.

Whatever the state of our views, or even our actions, nobody has any right to simply assume that we are receiving Communion in a state of mortal sin, any more than we should make a similar assumption about the vast majority of married couples who are using contraception. Many of these do so with full approval, or even encouragement, from their confessors and spiritual directors.

This is why Archbishop Nichols has suggested, quite rightly,

"Anybody who is trying to cast a judgement on the people who come forward for Communion really ought to learn to hold their tongue."

Terence Weldon

Anita Moore said...

Unfortunately, this kind of stuff is not unique. Witness the appalling case of Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Dominic Mary said...

To be fair, Mac, I think that what Archbishop Nichols is saying is that outsiders ought not to make public judgements about others, as the state of their consciences is known only to themselves and God and may, for all we know to the contrary, be immaculate . . . and after all, many of us receive Holy Communion with at least venial sins on our consciences, at least from time to time, so that would seem to be a fair observation on his part.
That said, it does seem to me that he should also make it quite clear that he expects - the Church expects - that people who attend these Masses and recevie Holy Communion at them will ensure that their consciences are claer, and that he cannot - and will not - condone open flouting of the Church's teaching on this point.

Dilly said...

The Protest the Pope website has the full text of the speech that Fr Bernard Lynch made to them, at the end of their protest on Saturday. How does he get away with this? Surely, joining a march against the Pope during his visit is a public scandal?

Paulinus said...

A Catholic's a Catholic's a Catholic. Mass is Mass is Mass. Quite what being gay or not has anything to do with either is beyond me.

The teaching of the Church is quite clear and applies to homosexual and heterosexual people alike. I'm not aware Our Blessed Lord celebrated the first Mass with any intention of sexual apartheid. Quite why homosexual Catholics want their own ghetto Masses is beyond me.

I thought the idea was that we were all part of one community of sinners. If we are in a state of grace we can receive communion, if not we can't. It strikes me that the only people discriminating (in the sense of choosing between one orientation or another) are the orgnisers of the LGBT Masses.

Frankly from the point of view of 'ghettoising' gay Catholics, I find the idea abhorrent.

Patricia Phillips said...

Perhaps Terence (Terry) Weldon of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council won't be so 'flattered' to be reminded of the following pieces he has written:-

(1) from the Easter 2005 Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement newsletter, in which he states:-
“So: here I am, Catholic, homosexual, and in the quaint old-fashioned phrase, ‘practising’ in both respects. (Practice makes perfect). I draw great strength from the community worshipping at St Anne’s, where I have become a regular, but will also soon become a fixture at a suburban parish (God help them). As for the Vatican, they have changed their stance on countless issues over the years. Eventually, they will see sense on this one too”.

(2) from the 'Pink News' website:- http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2009/10/01/new-archbishop-of-birmingham-helped-organise-gay-masses: In the comments, Weldon states: “I agree with my friend and colleague Martin (Pendergast) 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”.

(3) Weldon also runs several ‘gay’ blogs – see http://queering-the-church.com/blog and http://queeringthechurch.wordpress.com which are updated almost daily with dissent from Catholic teaching on homosexual issues. He has even put an article on his blog on June 9th, titled ‘Pope Benedict’s Boyfriend’, suggesting that the Holy Father is in a ‘gay’ relationship with his secretary, Mgr Georg Gänswein. See http://queering-the-church.com/blog/ecclesiology-ministry/church-history-ecclesiology-ministry/pope-benedicts-boyfriend

The Soho Masses website www.sohomasses.com lists some of Weldon’s blogs in its ‘Faith-based LGBT resources’ section.

Don't be taken in by sophistry and equivocation. The Soho Masses are direct assault on Catholic moral teaching.

Ben Trovato said...

I had some problems with various aspects of the programme The Pope's British Divisions, including the Archbishops comments on the Soho Mass, which I blogged about here if anyone is interested: http://ccfather.blogspot.com/2010/09/popes-british-divisions.html

Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

I find your quotes truly disturbing. Have you shared this with the bishop?

do you stand by those remarks? You must know that you cannot receive Holy Communion if you are in a state of mortal sin.
For goodness sake, you know the churches teaching so you can't even plead ignorance.
Whatever kick you are getting from "queering the church" are you not afraid for your immortal soul?
This is such a serious matter Terence. God isn't mocked.

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

Adulio said...

Dominic Mary - you should know by now that sticking up for ++Nichols is a futile course of action. The man is a politician and has not defended the Catholic faith, both when he was Archbishop of Birmingham and now as Archbishop of Westminster. It is clear that ++Nichols is aiming his comments at those of us, who are concerned at the state of the church in this country and watch helplessly as those who defend it are treated with contempt, while those who flout it are not even given so much as a slap on the wrist.

I hope Damian Thompson and all those who were cheering for Nichols as some sort of hero of orthodoxy, are now re-assesing their opinions.

As for Terence Weldon: I wonder whether he will answer the charges of Patricia Phillips.

Patricia Phillips said...

I am aware and I can fully assure you that Archbishop Nichols has regularly received full and factual reports about the scandals surrounding the Soho Masses, but he won't do anything. See John Smeaton's blogpost today and it might become clearer why he does nothing - http://spuc-director.blogspot.com/2010/09/archbishop-nichols-undermines-pope.html As for Auricularis' comment wondering whether Terry Weldon will answer what I stated - well, you might get reams of sophistry and drivel, but the simple fact remains that he has identified himself as a practising homosexual and as someone who is opposed to Catholic teaching on homosexuality as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And yet Abp Nichols allows Weldon to be a Eucharistic Minister at the Soho Masses and also allows him to organise the rotas for the other Eucharistic Ministers there. Abp Nichols knows that he is doing this. He knows that he runs several 'gay' blogs which are updated almost daily with dissent from Catholic teaching. Weldon recently reprinted disgraceful suggestions on one of his blogs that the Holy Father is in a 'gay' relationship with his private secretary, Mgr Georg Ganswein.

Patricia Phillips said...

A further point. When Westminster first permitted these Masses, they issued a statement saying:- “Information about the Mass will be sensitive to the reality that the celebration of Mass is not to be used for campaigning for any change to, or ambiguity about, the Church’s teaching.” Look at the recent statements made by Martin Pendergast, co-founder of the Soho Masses, and Joe Stanley, Chair of the Soho Masses, on the Time Out website:- http://www.timeout.com/london/gay-lesbian/article/1493/the-popes-visit-where-do-you-standr I rest my case.

Antonia said...

Terence wrote: "...any more than we should make a similar assumption about the vast majority of married couples who are using contraception"

Oh please -- "someone else did a bad thing, so we can too, OK?" Even my three year old knows better than to try that one out.

Truth isn't nuanced Terence. Sin is sin is sin is sin, no matter what one's stated "orientation". Anyone who contracepts is committing a grave sin; anyone who contracepts and receives the Blessed Sacrament without confessing, being truly repentant, receiving absolution and vowing to commit that sin no more, is compounding their sin in a grave offence to Our Lord. Why pretend that this is a "get out of jail free card" for people of any sexual persuasion to commit sacrilege by receiving the Blessed Sacrament in a knowing state of mortal sin? By doing so you are potentially creating an occasion of even graver sin. Think about it.

Besides, *real* married Catholic couples do not contracept. Ever.

Patricia Phillips said...

Antonia - Terence Weldon & his fellow travellers at the Soho Masses wouldn't accept Catholic teaching about contraception, or virtually any other moral issue. Instead of accepting these things as the universal teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, they claim these things are all just mere 'Vatican doctrine' and therefore open to legitimate rejection. Homosexuality, contraception, abortion, heterosexual sex outside marriage, women priests, it's all just 'Vatican doctrine' and we can safely ignore it. That is the Soho Mass brigade default position, and Westminster diocese seems happy to support them in this position.

Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

This is so disturbing. I'm trying to look for the "good intention" in those who have permitted this.
Of course I am convinced they are in error, but clearly they don't share that view.
Can I ask you what you think their "agenda" is?
What I think I am asking you is this:
Do you think they are being naive, and then bull headed in not being willing to listen to critics ( who they have probably written off as Taliban catholics or something)
Or do you think there is a more sinister gay affirmative agenda at work?

Just this evening I read this:

A day after the departure of Pope Benedict XVI from Britain, his senior archbishop, the unofficial head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, told a BBC interviewer that the English bishops had supported legalizing homosexual civil partnerships.

You can read the rest

I am reminded of the following passage from Matthew 9:

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.""

We need faithful priests. May God raise them up in the coming generation!

Patricia Phillips said...

Clare, there does seem to be a worrying pattern emerging regarding certain bishops' responses to homosexual issues - see some of the recent posts on John Smeaton's blog - http://spuc-director.blogspot.com - however, I can't speculate on their motives and why certain bishops are acting this way - or perhaps I should say, why they are failing to act. All I can state with certainty is that Abp Nichols, and his predecessor, and (then) Bishop Longley were sent irrefutable proof that those who requested these Masses openly oppose Catholic teaching on homosexuality, and Abp Nichols has also been sent irrefutable proof that dissent has been, and continues to be, promoted through the Soho Masses Pastoral Council (SMPC). On the rare occasions that Abp Nichols has deigned to write to anyone who has expressed concern about these Masses, his response indicates that he is in complete denial that there are any problems with the SMPC or the Masses.

Terence said...

Several comments here have wondered whether I would bother to reply to observations about my writings and beliefs. There is no need to reply to the specifics: they are all addressed in my original comment.

The only thing I wish to add is to remind you that the pope himself has written that there are times when the demands of conscience override other authority - even that of the pope.

The fact that in conscience I dissent, as I am obliged to do, does not in any way imply that I am in a state of mortal sin.

To those who insist on judging me, I refer you first to Archbishop Nichols, who suggests that you hold your tongue. And if you reject his authority (as many of you appear to do) then perhaps you will pay more attention to one Jesus Christ, who suggested that the one without sin should cast the first stone, and elsewhere spoke of beams compared with motes in one's eye.

Terence Weldon

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