Commenting on the announcement that Archbishop Nichols is to be made a cardinal and his support for the Soho Masses Austen Ivereigh, the co-ordinator of Catholic Voices, has told The Guardian, ‘If anything, I think Francis would be extremely sympathetic to the Soho masses.’
‘According to Austen Ivereigh, ex-director of public affairs for Murphy-O’Connor and co-ordinator of Catholic Voices, Nichols’s commitment to a more inclusive church closely resembles that of the pope. “If anything, I think Francis would be extremely sympathetic to the Soho masses,” he said.
“Francis likes pastoral bishops; he likes bishops with the smell of sheep and Vincent is a very experienced pastoral bishop and has a very pastoral approach to the sacraments – as he demonstrated with his open-door policy in the church, which I think is very much in the mould of Francis.”‘
Is Austen Ivereigh right in thinking that Pope Francis would be extremely sympathetic to allowing Catholics who advocate homosexual sex to receive Holy Communion?
Terence Weldon openly advocates homosexual sex as a Catholic gay activist and blogger:
‘As gay men, however, we need to be clear on just what is the nature of sin, as it applies in particular to my life, and to my sexuality (There are, of course, many other areas of sin which have nothing to do with sexuality, which I will not go into here). I reject the idea that there is necessarily any sin inherent in loving someone of the same sex, or even in giving physical expression to that love in a sexual relationship. In doing so, I am not alone in concluding as a matter of conscience that the CDF rules on sexual behaviour are fundamentally flawed. The overwhelming majority of Catholics in fact do so, on at least one element (or more) of orthodox teaching, whether that be on artificial contraception within marriage, or physical love between committed and loving couples before marriage, or on masturbation, or on relationships after divorce. However, it is simply not required to be 100% faithful to every element of the Catholic Catechism to find a welcome in the church.’
Martin Pendergast, former Catholic priest and gay activist, openly admits that gay civil partnerships were celebrated at the Soho Masses:
“A lot of us who are in civil unions have had services of blessings in Catholic churches afterwards, and here at these Masses [at Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory Catholic church, Soho] on every third Sunday, if we are asked by people, we pray for people who have entered civil partnerships or whose anniversaries happen at that time.”
Protect the Pope comment: Pope Francis hasn’t spoken on this issue, but he did indicate when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires that he was not sympathetic to what Austen Ivereigh calls an open-door policy in the church regarding the sacraments. In 2007 Cardinal Bergoglio presented pro-life guidelines on behalf of the Argentinian bishops that stated:
“We hope that legislators, heads of government, and health professionals, conscious of the dignity of human life and of the rootedness of the family in our peoples, will defend and protect it from the abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia; that is their responsibility … We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”
Writing to the Argentinian bishops in March 2013 Pope Francis re-iterated the importance of these pro-life guidelines saying, ‘These are the guidelines we need for this time in history.”
‘Eucharistic coherence’ is important to Pope Francis, which means he holds that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments. In the light of this it is highly unlikely that Pope Francis would be extremely sympathetic to the Soho masses if they involved Catholics engaged in homosexual sex and openly dissenting from the Church’s doctrine receiving Holy Communion.