The following email from Wilbur Maxino, the Soho Masses Young Adults Group organiser, is very revealing about the Soho Masses Pastoral Council thinking about the Farm Street move:
Sent: Wednesday, 2 January 2013, 18:33
Subject: [SohoMassesYAG] The continuing evolution of the Sohomasses
Dear Fellow YAGgers,
By now, you have probably heard/read/reacted to news articles that the Sohomasses will shut. The press do tend to use dramatic language. I have enclosed bellow the letter that +Vincent wrote to the Sohomasses and will be read to the congregation this Sunday.
To those attending the evening Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption on
Sunday 6 January 2013
My brothers and sisters
I write to you at this time when, as you may already know, I have made decisions affecting you and the pattern of pastoral outreach the Diocese offers to you.
From early Lent, this year, the twice-monthly Sunday evening Mass which you have been coming to in Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Warwick Street will come to an end. In its place you are all invited to come to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, on a similar pattern of meetings. You are also welcome to be part of the Sunday evening parish Mass, at 6.15pm, and to gather together afterwards in the Hall for your meetings. I am very grateful to the Community at Farm Street for readily extending this welcome to you all.
In coming to this decision I am appreciative of the way the work of your Group has developed most recently, offering opportunities for study, prayer and retreats. I thank all who have taken a lead in this. However, it is also true that the celebration of Mass on these occasions in Our Lady of the Assumption Church continues to be contentious and, as far as I can judge, will not cease to be so.
I ask you to accept my decision and my invitation to use the Church of the Immaculate Conception for your meetings and your pastoral activities.
Indeed, I invite you to meet with me, at Farm Street, after the 6.15pm Mass on Sunday 3rd March, the Third Sunday of Lent. This would enable me to express my support for you as you continue your efforts, as do we all, to be faithful to Christ in the communion of the Church and striving to live in accordance with her teaching.
With assurances of my prayers for you all as we enter this New Year of the Lord,
Yours sincerely in Christ,
The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
My personal opinion is that +Vincent’s support of us is still strong, but he is facing an enormous amount of pressure from protesters and from Rome. I think his proposal is sound; it should shut down the arguments that have been put against us and yet allow us to continue to grow spiritually and strengthen our resolve for these masses. It doesn’t matter where we are housed. In fact, some of us have felt that we are ready to take our message to a wider public. The move to Farm Street will give us this opportunity. As far as pastoral care is concerned, I also feel that the Jesuits in Farm Street will be more equipped to provide this than the sole figure of Mgr Seamus, although he has also been a strong supporter of Sohomasses and we owe him our thanks. I invite you to read Terry’s thoughtful blog on this topic
There are still many things we don’t know, such as if our bidding prayers or the rota of priests will continue. I would like to see these things continue. Please attend the mass on 6 January. Perhaps there will be more information then. At the very least, you can voice out your opinion to someone in the SMPC.
Protect the Pope comment: Protect the Pope leaves it to our readers to draw conclusions from this email. It should be noted that the author explicitly states that these are his ‘personal opinions’ and therefore do not necessarily reflect the intentions of Archbishop Nichols. However, this email does reflect the approach taken by Terence Weldon and the statement from the Soho Masses Pastoral Council.