Terence Weldon claims Soho Masses merely being transferred to new Westminster parish

Terence Weldon, a leading homosexual activist associated with the Soho Masses Pastoral Council, claims Archbishop Nichols announcement about the future of pastoral provision for homosexual persons merely signifies the transfer of the twice-monthly Soho Masses to a new parish, Farm Street. Mr. Weldon goes on to indicate that future plans include expanding their ‘vision’ of the Church to other parts of the country.

Mr Weldon claims that Archbishop Nichols announcement signifies  not the “end” of the Soho Masses (except in name), but will simply marks a new phase, and probably a further period of growth for their present congregation.

Here are excerpts from Mr Weldon’s post on his site Queering the Church:

‘News out this morning is that the regular twice monthly masses with a particular outreach to gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender Catholics, their families and friends, popularly but incorrectly known as the Soho “gay Masses”, will be moving out of their present home in Warwick Street, and relocating to a new home at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the well-known Jesuit parish in Farm Street.  For many members of the congregation, the news will be received with deep sadness, and inversely, the few but vocal opponents of these Masses will be jubilant, seeing it as a sign of their supposed victory. Both responses could be short-sighted and misplaced.’

Our congregation is emphatically not being “shut down”, as the opponents will claim, but simply being relocated. With that relocation will come significant opportunities for further growth and expansion – just as occurred with our earlier moves, from Camden to St Anne’s, and later from St Anne’s to Warwick Street. As one who was involved in the original discussions over that earlier move from Dean St to our present home, I want to reflect here on just what it is that we lost in that move – and what we gained. From that, we could more easily reflect on what we might be losing, and gaining, in the next phase of our evolution.

But once again, we are pushing at the limits of what is possible in our present home.  In purely physical terms, the basement space where we serve refreshments is becoming increasingly unsuitable: crowded, not easily accessible and with poor toilet facilities. It is at present extremely well patronized even so, filling a vitally important part of the overall experience, but could scarcely cope with any further increase in numbers. Accommodating the need for additional activities as discussed above, would also be difficult (even if just about manageable). With a move to Farm Street, which has extensive physical and spiritual resources already in place, these difficulties will largely disappear. The parish has extensive meeting rooms, a far superior hall for after Mass refreshments and conversation, and existing structures for faith sharing and spiritual growth, which could be easily extended to meet our needs.

It is true that there will, inevitably, be a loss of independence: but therein could also be a new benefit. The downside of independence, is the danger of hiding in a gay ghetto. I am increasingly convinced that one of the major challenges facing the LGBT Catholic community, is that of achieving visibility in the wider Church, and engaging openly and honestly with others. I have myself become heavily active in my local parish in a small, deeply conservative (and Conservative) country town – and have found this experience of open and honest engagement richly rewarding. By merging our activities into an existing, strong parish, we will have the opportunity to meet with and engage other Catholics, exposing them to our particular difficulties – and listening also to theirs.

The real issue here is not simply one of a “gay Mass”, but of the wider issue of effective  Catholic LGBT ministry. For many years, the Soho Masses as we know them have provided a richly valuable to those people able and willing to make the journey to get to them – but does nothing for those who by reason of location or inclination, are not. One of the obvious problems with the existing model as we have it at Warwick Street, is that it is not one that can be simply transplanted to other areas, of the diocese or pf the country. If we can make a success of developing a new model at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, we should find that although the “Soho Masses” may end – Catholic LGBT ministry will be strengthened, and expanded.

When we moved from St Anne’s to Warwick Street, we did not “end” the Soho Masses, but entered a new phase – one which proved, despite some reservations and misgivings, a source of growth for the congregation. As we move from Warwick Street to Farm Street, this too will not “end” the Soho Masses (except in name), but will simply mark a new phase, and probably a further period of growth for our present congregation. R.I.P. Soho Masses: Long Live Soho Masses LGBT Catholic ministry!

Protect the Pope comment: The test of whether Archbishop Nichols’ stopping the Soho Masses means anything more than a change of name will be whether he allows a new version of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council to be formed in Farm Street.  Terence Weldon’s post suggests that he thinks it will be not only be business as usual at Farm Street, but that it will be the base from which they will launch ‘Farm Street LGBT missions’ across the country.

The potential point of failure inherent in Archbishop Nichols’ announcement is his acceptance that the ‘group’ responsible for organizing the Soho Masses will continue to be recognized in its new role of  leading pastoral provision in Farm Street.  Archbishop Nichols writes:

‘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.’

If the same individuals continue in leadership positions then the promotion of active homosexual life-styles contrary to the teaching of the Church will in all likelihood continue. How will Archbishop Nichols ensure that the ‘Farm Street Pastoral Council’ will be ‘conducted fully in accordance with the teaching of the Church?’

The group formerly known as the Soho Masses Pastoral Council should have been disbanded and leadership of pastoral provision for homosexual persons  given to (En) Courage.  This half-measure is better than the previous policy of no action being taken, but the root of the problem has not been dealt with. Nothing will really change until the defiant  dissent at the heart of this group is challenged and canonical sanctions imposed.






22 comments to Terence Weldon claims Soho Masses merely being transferred to new Westminster parish

  • Karla

    The Diocese’s statement does NOT sound like relocation as when these masses continued before as Weldon points out from Camden, to St Annes, and then to Warick Street I believe the masses continued in those different locations. The masses are being stopped now, that is what is different, so how can he claim they are just transferring to a new parish?

    From the statement from the Disocece of Westminster –

    ’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.’


  • Surely the point of the statement is that there will be “pastoral care” as distinct from specific masses.

  • Joseph Matthew

    The Archbishop has clearly stated that pastoral care must be rooted in Church teaching.If this does not occur, orthodox Catholics have every reason to continue with their peaceful and prayerful protests.

  • David R

    “Pastoral care” includes an evening Mass – a weekly evening Mass. This is Archbishop Nichols playing the game and trying to get his red hat. I say that as a Catholic and someone who wants to think the best of their clergy, but this has “new labour” spin and control written all over it. Why are people swallowing it so easily?

  • Rifleman819

    David ,
    How true……did it not speak volumes that the Ordinariate was announced directly from Rome and ++Vin held the most excruciating joint news conference with Rowan Williams?
    The Papal visit was so, so nearly a disaster.As an Old Boy of Cardinal Vaughan I have little or no time for the ADW…the organisation that took its best school to the Adjucator -tried to destroy it………… and lost.
    The point is that red hats are earned…for holiness and leadership.
    You need someone strong and charismatic from a whole new generation of younger bishops -men with fire in their bellies.
    We can do without a litany of ineptitude, a roll call of incompetence…………there are younger and better men outside.

    In the end Rome will decide.

  • Ioannes

    Weldon tried to put a positive spin on it, and even reproduced ++Nichols’s letter, which completely undermined his argument. I don’t think most gays want a special Mass which reeks of ad-hoc fabricated liturgy; if the Anglo-Catholics are anything to go by they tend to be drawn to elaborate ceremonial. A quick glance around the congregation at the 11 o’clock Mass in a certain very traditional church in SW7 … I’d better stop there, before someone says “it takes one to spot one”.

    • Anne

      In the church you mention, priest people and liturgy are focused on God are they not? Whereas in the other they seem rather focused on pride in themselves. Gospel parallels anyone?
      Next time you go Ioannes, please light a candle for me; I am in a diocese that hasn’t learned the chant for the New Translation yet!! A diocese in great need of a strong, Catholic bishop! Please pray.

  • Lynda

    The kind of “pastoral care” these people have been getting from this group is not in conformity with the Catholic Faith and as such inimical to souls. What Mr Weldon promotes is not Catholicism but rather something which radically conflicts with it.

  • Joseph Matthew

    And how is it possible for Terence Weldon with his dreadful blog to wield such power ?

  • Pat

    Yes, this has been the modus operandi of this group and of Westminster Diocese all along. First of all it was Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement at St Annes Anglican church, Soho. This morphed into Soho Masses Pastoral Council at Warwick Street, Soho. Now it will be (insert new name here)at Farm Street, Mayfair. Name changes and venue changes. Same old dissent. That’s all it is. Thank you Deacon Nick for seeing through all the hype, when other blogs have been praising Abp Nichols to the skies. I can assure you that within a very short space of time, the group, using a new name, will have hijacked one of the Farm St parish Masses and all the usual shenanigans will continue. Also, being as this group openly dissents from Catholic teaching on homosexuality, why is the Archbishop disregarding the 1986 CDF document on pastoral care for homosexuals and allowing them to offer pastoral care in his diocese?

  • Rifleman819

    Dear Deacon Nick ,

    As we knew it would, like some Pavlovian dog , the dear old Grauniad has got hold of the Soho masses story.See Andrew Brown’s CiF melange of tired , re-cycled, anti-Catholic tropes about homosexuality.
    What is good to see is that there are some robust Catholic defenders on the blog responses.
    The Guardianistas even manage to link Galileo into the Soho masses issue.Amazing.
    But the interesting point about the dear old Guardian newspaper-the true Lefty paper with the greatest number of ex-public school journalists-is that it is propped up by the revenues of AutoTrader car magazine.The irony is picquant….the motor trade Arfur Daleys…those anti-Soviet metal-dealing kulaks provide a hidden life support for the likes of journalists Seumas Milne and Polly Toynbee-Tuscany.
    Catholics can watch with some amusement as the most consistently anti-Catholic newspaper in the UK (a crowded field, admittedly) is heading for the rocks of bankruptcy.
    Every blogger on Protect the Pope should read Andrew Brown’s piece and so enter the twilight world of a dying institution.

  • Rifleman819

    Deacon Nick ,
    Just a quick follow up .I forgot to mention the Law of Diminishing Returns.
    The Guardian’s consistent anti-Catholicism is just so blatant that from time to time (and now with increasing frequency)their own bloggers are making comments about how unprofessional the paper is.
    This also spills over into the paper’s Education-Schools-”Faith” schools articles and blogs.Catholic primaries are regularly bracketed with pre-school madrassas in the Guardian weldtmacht….except that one or two bloggers had the temerity to point out the high places in the league tables and over subscription by parents. Cue explosion of rage.
    It really is the virulence of despair.

  • Simon

    Calm down everybody. Remember the natural law of ambition. A consistory is soon to be held. I recall Archbishop Nichols celebrating a Latin Mass during the period when a decision about the Westminster appointment was being considered. I’m not sure he has celebrated one since his appointment to Westminster. Ah, the politics of Catholicism. How can we possibly live with it. Calm down.

    • Rifleman819

      Simon ,
      All will calm down …..only when Catholics obey the teaching of the church.
      BTW -It is not politics-leave that to the ABC and his united , cohesive and growing band, eh?

  • Nicolas Bellord

    I have always held that the real problem was the Soho Masses Pastoral Council (SMPC) rather than the Masses. The SMPC had no formal recognition from the Archdiocese and not having been formed in accordance with Canon Law it was an illegitimate organisation. Unfortunately the Archdiocese allowed the SMPC to organise the Masses and virtually gave them de facto recognition as a Parish Council despite their behaviour and in particular the advocacy of homosexual sexual activity by several of its members. You only have to read the homosexual fantasising dressed up as theology on Terence Weldon’s blog to see this.

    Now the organisation of Masses is being taken away from the SMPC – at least that is how I read it – and that is a good thing. However the SMPC is being given some sort of formal recognition in providing pastoral care for the LGBT community – not self-evidently a good thing. The pastoral care is supposed to be in accordance with the teaching of the Church. Is there going to be one of those Jesuits whom I remember from my school days who will firmly lead the SMPC into orthodoxy? Has there been a conversion of SMPC and certain of its members? Let us pray that such happens.

  • Sixupman

    Technically, Farm Street may not constitute a “parish”, but an independent Jesuit Church, from the Diocese of Westminster that is. Clever move?

  • Joseph Matthew

    Because so many responses on a secular blog rightly condemned the Church sex abuse and wrongly the Church teaching on homosexual acts, I wrote the following : Richard Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist with 25 years experience of treating priests who have abused minors has said ” It has become increasingly clear that almost all the victims are adolescent males. The problem of priests with same sex attraction molesting adolescents must be addressed.” He has noted that every abusive priest he has treated had been in a sexual relationship with an adult male.
    Needless to say the comment was removed almost immediately.

  • +Vincent’s statement said that the new arrangements will not include a regular Mass. so I don’t see how these people can claim that there will be.

    I totally agree that Encourage should take the lead here.

  • [...] Deacon Nick Donnelly writes the following, with which I completely agree: The potential point of failure inherent in Archbishop Nichols’ announcement is his acceptance that the ‘group’ responsible for organizing the Soho Masses will continue to be recognized in its new role of  leading pastoral provision in Farm Street. [...]

  • Pat

    Joseph Matthew: And how is it possible for Terence Weldon with his dreadful blog to wield such power ? Answer: he doesn’t. He’s just an individual who is obsessed with his disordered inclination and who delivers pizzas to make ends meet. http://queeringthechurch.com/2013/01/03/a-new-year-a-double-new-beginning-and-a-personal-appeal By his own admission, in 2012 only two people donated to his “apostolate” and he is reduced to begging for more financial support. Hardly the sign of a strong power base? But no-one can question his zeal – albeit in the wrong cause. Would that he were on the side of the angels. He’d be a great saint! Which is why we must pray for him. You never know – stranger things have happened . . .

  • [...] point of view is expressed by Deacon Nick Donnelly here. The potential point of failure inherent in Archbishop Nichols’ announcement is his acceptance [...]

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