The Soho Masses Pastoral Council is making much of the fact that they have received an official mandate from Archbishop Nichols to provide pastoral outreach to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons of the Archdiocese of Westminster. In their recent newsletter it states:
‘Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has mandated the Soho Masses community to extend its pastoral activity, thanks to the hospitality of the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception, otherwise known as Farm Street Church, and the Mount Street Jesuit Centre. Next Steps is the theme of a day-workshop which will enable LGBT Catholics, parents and families, to explore what such pastoral ministry might entail, what are the resources at our disposal, and how can we galvanise the community’s various groups in developing collaborative ministry in this area? This takes place on Saturday, 4 May 2013, from 10.00-16.30. See the attached flier for details!
The flier includes the following information about the plans of Archbishop Nichols’ Soho Masses Group to fulfill its mandate in the Archdiocese of Westminster and beyond:
‘In June 2012, a number of members of the Soho Masses Community attended a highly successful one – day workshop, “Next Steps in LGBT Ministry”, led by Frank DeBenardo of New Ways Ministry (USA). The May workshop for the Soho Masses Community will be based on the structure of the New Ways model, adapted for our conditions and local circumstances.’
The problem for Archbishop Nichols and the Archdiocese of Westminster is that his Soho Masses Group is proposing to carry out his mandate using a model developed by New Ways Ministry, which has been condemned by the US Bishops for dissenting from Catholic teaching on homosexuality and for this reason the faithful have been warned that it is not a Catholic organization. Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Bishop Salvatore Cordileone on behalf of the US Bishops issued the following statement on Frank DeBenardo of New Ways Ministry:
In view of the recent booklet Marriage Equality: A Positive Catholic Approach, by Francis DeBernardo (published by New Ways Ministry), we, as the respective chairmen of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, wish to reaffirm Francis Cardinal George’s statement of February 12, 2010 and assure Catholics that in no manner is the position proposed by New Ways Ministry in conformity with Catholic teaching and in no manner is this organization authorized to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church or to identify itself as a Catholic organization.’
Protect the Pope comment: Archbishop Nichols should take note of the fact that the Soho Masses Pastoral Council is planning to model its pastoral outreach,in his name and with his mandate, on the work of an organisation condemned by the US bishops for not being in conformity with Church teaching to the extent that the faithful have been warned that it is not ‘a Catholic organisation’. The decision of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council to model itself on the New Ways Ministry shows the mistake Archbishop Nichols has made in only transferring the Soho Masses to Farm Street and failing to disband the Soho Masses Pastoral Council. But his greater mistake was to bless the Soho Masses Pastoral Council with his mandate, because every time they dissent from the teaching of the Church they do so in his name and with his authority. The flier for the May meeting begins:
‘With the move from Warwick Street to Farm Street, there will be much to do to give full effect to our mandate from Archbishop Nichols to continue and expand our efforts in pastoral provision for our community – a responsibility that the SMPC will take very seriously.’