Monday, 13 April 2009

Proudly Gay and Proudly Catholic? This Calls for Humility

Martin Prendergast has written an article for The Guardian on LGBT Masses in Soho, entitled, 'Proudly Gay and Proudly Catholic,' on what he regards are the positive effect on the Church of a parish embracing the LGBT community in London. I took great exception to the article, but perhaps not for reasons the reader might at first imagine.

The Soho Masses LGBT community has a statement from the Diocese of Westminster which says, 'In recent years a number of homosexual Catholics, together with their parents, families and friends, have expressed their desire for pastoral care from the Diocese of Westminster. Since March 2007, this has been provided by the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory in Warwick Street, in the heart of Soho. Recently there has been a review of the provision that has been provided and, as a result, Mgr. Seamus O’Boyle has been appointed Parish Priest. He will be responsible for ensuring that all pastoral provision is given with due catechesis and formation according to the mind of the Church. The parish will continue to be sensitive to the pastoral needs of homosexual Catholics. Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory parish provides a welcome to all and every Mass celebrated at the Church has always, and will continue to be open to all.'

How wonderfully inclusive...How very Tony Blair! Martin Pendergast says this is, 'a positive grass-roots story, but the church worldwide still fails to dialogue formally with its LGBT members. Official statements reflect harsh judgements, uninformed either by increasing knowledge about human sexual diversity, or Catholic theological pluralism. The pastoral practice on the ground varies enormously. LGBT pastoral ministries operate with differing degrees of hierarchical support. The Catholic church reflects the kind of divisions seen in the Anglican Communion over the issue of homosexuality, with some Bishops formally recognising only those groups which advocate celibacy.'

So, what have I got against this? Well, the problem with LGBT Masses is that they are actually very divisive, not in terms of controversy, but in terms of what the Catholic Faith actually believes and the values for which it stands. You see, if we are to define ourselves by our sexuality then we are not really doing justice to how God sees us. Every human being has been made 'in the image and likeness of God'.

We are all loved by the same Heavenly Father. The word Catholic means 'universal'. The Church embraces all of mankind because we are all sinners and 'have fallen short of the Glory of God.' The Easter Triduum commemorates the Death of Christ and His Resurrection for all of mankind in God's work of redemption. - for all mankind, not just for the gays, the lesbians, the bisexuals, the transgendered, nor the rich, the poor, the disabled, the able-bodied, the black, the Chinese community or any particular community - but for all.

The problem with LGBT Masses is that they divide the family of God into sub-sections, categories and labels which are radically different from way in which each human being is treated by God. The reality of the average parish, say, here in Brighton is that you will find the young, the old, gay, straight, bi, sick, healthy, people with mental illness, people from different countries and ethnicities, and really, if you want a Catholic community, or indeed any community, then you will find a wide variety of people from different social and cultural backgrounds. The one thing in the Mass which unites us with each other and the Court of Heaven is that we are all worshipping the same Triune God on the Altar. Are we gay Catholics? No, we are Catholics. Are we straight Catholics? No, we are Catholics. Are we bi-sexual Catholics? No, we are Catholics.

The second aspect of the LGBT Masses which is unsettling is that it is reflective of a trend in the Church to mistake the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which should be focused on God, giving reverence to Him alone, for a Mass which is about us, the community. Such a Mass puts us at the centre of the liturgy and the Mass itself, rather than Almighty God. I'm afraid that for these reasons, well intentioned as it may be, any Church offering a special LGBT Mass is doing God and us, that's all of us, for we are all God's children, a great disservice indeed.

The fact that a number of the LGBT Catholic communities in the UK are seeking a change in Church teaching on sexuality, itself a grave scandal to the Church, is another matter altogether. Only a group supporting celibacy, spirituality in the Tradition of the Church and reflecting the Magisterium could possibly gain approval from the Church. Quite how it is that this is not obvious to these groups in the light of Church teaching is a mystery. Ultimately, when it comes to we Catholics, if we are 'proudly' gay, 'proudly' straight 'proudly' lesbian or even 'proudly' Catholic then it is a cause for great concern. Why? Because God exalts the humble and humbles the proud. Pride is a deadly sin and its opposite virtue is Humility. When it comes to LGBT Masses, that is exactly what is needed. Also, what on earth is that logo? It looks like some strange, warped, modernist interpretation of a Cross. One could be forgiven for thinking it had nothing to do with Christianity whatsoever.


Physiocrat said...

Seriously bonkers stuff. I hope the new Archbishop will put an end to this nonsense.

The most inclusive mass is the EF form ie ad orientem silently in Latin.

Sexual orientation is irrelevant as all sins should be dumped in the confessional before receiving communion.

Why is that so difficult to understand?

The Bones said...

It isn't for people catechised well. It's very much a secularisation of the Church.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post

laurentius said...

Laurence, the CiF thread on this subject was shut down before I had a chance to respond. I don't have a blog, but I like yours and shall be reading in future! It is crucial that voices such as yours are heard.

God bless,


The Only Safe Space in the World

Virus normalcy, the so-called 'new normal', is for Christians almost certainly more abhorrent than it is for people of other reli...