Archbishop Nichols promises Soho Masses review will ensure they’re not occasions for opposition to Church’s teaching

Archbishop Nichols has re-affirmed the Archdiocese of Westminster’s provision of pastoral care to homosexuals through the so called Soho Masses, while at the same time announcing that he is undertaking a review of the current provision to ensure these Masses are not occasions for opposition to the Church’s teaching on sexuality:

‘At the present time consideration is being given to the circumstances in which these Masses are celebrated to ensure that their purpose is respected and that they are not occasions for confusion or opposition concerning the positive teaching of the Church on the meaning of human sexuality or the moral imperatives that flow from that teaching, which we uphold and towards which we all strive.”

Archbishop Nichols said: “As we approach the fifth anniversary of the establishment of a pastoral provision for Catholics of a same-sex orientation at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, I would like reaffirm the intention and purpose of this outreach.

“That intention and purpose were clearly set out in the statement issued by the Diocese of Westminster in 2007 when the provision was started under the guidance of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.

“Furthermore it is important to recall and study again the direction and guidance set out by Cardinal Hume in 1997.

“In order to appreciate the intention and purpose of this provision a close reading of these two documents is required.

“These documents outline three essential foundations: the dignity of all persons created by God, the moral principles concerning chastity and the Church’s teaching on sexual activity, and the pastoral care of Catholics who are of same-sex orientation. All who participate in the Mass are called to live the church’s teaching through an ongoing conversion of life.

The archbishop’s statement ended with a note which said: “The language used by the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other Church documents is the term ‘homosexual’. I am also conscious that the abbreviation LGBT is preferred by many as a collective identification. Whatever language is used, it is worth bearing in mind that the Church ‘refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God and, by grace, his child and heir to eternal life’ (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, par 16).”

Protect the Pope comment: This is good news from Archbishop Nichols, and signifies an important shift in  his position on the Soho Masses. Before the Holy Father’s visit the archbishop expressed, in intemperate language, that those Catholics concerned about public dissent at the Soho Masses should ‘hold their tongues.’ Now 18 months later Archbishop Nichols has admitted the concern that the Soho Masses could be occasions for confusion and opposition to the Church’s teaching, and needs investigating.   This is exactly the claim made by Daphne McLeod and Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.

Protect the Pope recommends that the archbishop includes in his review an examination of the website Queering the Church, run by a member of the organising council Terence Weldon.

Protect the Pope also recommends that Archbishop Nichols investigates why during prayers at the Soho Mass the one Catholic pastoral organisation that upholds the Church’s entire teaching on homosexuality is not mentioned but all the dissenting ones are .  At the Gay Pride Mass 2011 no mention was made of EnCourage,the one group for homosexuals that does uphold the teaching of the Church. EnCourage offers a spiritual support system for men and women with homosexual orientation who desire to live chaste lives.

Evidence of public dissent from the Catholic Faith at the Soho ‘Gay Pride’ Mass 2011

If Archbishop Nichols wants to ensure that the Soho Masses aren’t conducted in ways that promote confusion and opposition wouldn’t it be prudent to give a group like EnCourage the responsibility for organising these Masses?

Can the members of the Soho Masses sign up to the five principles of EnCourage? Wouldn’t this be a good place to start Archbishop Nichols?

The Five Goals of EnCOURAGE

1 – Live chaste lives in accordance with the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality. (Chastity)

2 – Dedicate ones life to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. (Prayer and Dedication)

3 – Foster a spirit of fellowship in which all may share thoughts and experiences, and so ensure that no one will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone. (Fellowship)

4 – Be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in a chaste Christian life and in doing so provide encouragement to one another in forming and sustaining them. (Support)

5 – Live lives that may serve as good examples to others. (Good Example/Role Model)





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