Terence Weldon, member of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council and writer of Queering the Church, has written that one of the highlight’s of Quest’s 40th anniversary conference was the public reading of an ‘incredibly supportive letter from Bishop Conry that has encouraged Quest to plan to expand its presence in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, and other selected dioceses. Quest is a homosexual Catholic group banned by Cardinal Hume from being included the Catholic Directory as an approved Catholic organisation because of its dissent from Church doctrine by promoting homosexual sex.
Terence Weldon writes:
‘At the Chichester conference itself, a highlight was hearing Ruby read a letter from the Bishop of Arundel & Brighton, Kieron Conroy, in reply to our invitation to him to attend the conference. In his remarkably supportive reply, he noted “with regret” that he would be unable to attend as he would be away in Lourdes.’
‘Also during the conference, in formal meetings and in informal conversations, I noted a bubbling up of ideas for new initiatives to expand our activities.
‘Then, the day after the conference, came the really exciting news: reports of Pope Francis’ press conference in the flight returning from Brazil, including his insistence that gay people should not be judged. (In effect, he was saying what +Kieron had implied in his letter to us – that he was not judging us). Francis also said that gay men are welcome in the priesthood, and that gay people should be fully included in society. The obvious corollary is that we should similarly be fully integrated in the Church.’
‘Taken together, these developments represent an astonishing opportunity for Quest, quite literally a “Kairos moment” for movement toward full inclusion and recognition in the English Catholic Church. For years, the Quest name has been what was described at conference 2012 as a “toxic brand” to the English bishops. This could now change. Supported by Pope Francis’ words on a refusal to judge, and his earlier statements in Brazil warning against clericalism, and the need to “shake up the dioceses”, we should now arrange to meet with +Kieron to discuss ways in which we can co-operate in expanding LGBT ministry in his diocese. Thereafter, we should aim to do the same for other selected dioceses.’
Protect the Pope comment: Either Terence Weldon is misrepresenting Bishop Conry’s letter to the Quest conference or Bishop Conry has decided to dismiss Cardinal Basil Hume’s judgement that Quest is not an approved Catholic organisation because it promoted homosexual sex. In a letter to Charles Keal, Quest’s chairman at the time, Cardinal Hume wrote explaining that his decision to remove it from the list of approved Catholic organisations was that if an organization was listed with ecclesiastical approval, “the assumption must be that it accepts the church’s teaching set out in a manner that is in no way ambiguous.” The cardinal further explained Quest’s rejection of living ‘chaste lives in accordance with the church’s teaching’ raised concern about the direction Quest was taking. ”It is one thing for the church officially to recognize a support group for Catholic homosexual men and women, struggling, as we all do, to live up to the demands of our shared Christian vocation,” but was clear that an explicit part of Quest’s agenda is “to encourage and recognize loving same-sex partnerships,” which the church cannot accept.’ If Terence Weldon is being honest then Bishop Conry has decided he can accept ‘same-sex partnerships’.