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Conservative Anglicans welcome, gay Catholics not so much

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has ended London's Soho masses for gay and lesbian Catholics because he didn't think they should have a "special" service. So he gave the church over to the new conservative Anglican ordinariate for their special services. Go figure:

[Nichols] said after six years of the masses, it was "time for a new phase".Nichols said the original aim of this pastoral provision was to enable people with same-sex attraction to enter more fully into the life of the church, within the existing parish structures.But, he said, it was important to recognise a distinction must be made between the pastoral care of a particular group and the regular celebration of the mass as the "highest prayer of the whole church"."I am, therefore, asking the group, which has, in recent years, helped to organise the celebration of mass on two Sundays of each month at Warwick Street now to focus their effort on the provision of pastoral care," the archbishop said, adding it would not include "the organisation of a regular mass".Critics of the special services included the former Catholic Herald editor Dr William Oddie, who accused church leaders of supporting a "homosexual lifestyle". He said it was clear "beyond peradventure that those who attend the masses are nearly all what the archdiocese calls 'non-celibate gay people' who intend to continue to defy Catholic teaching".Oddie wrote in the Catholic Herald in November that the masses were "the most potentially inflammatory source of division between Rome and Westminster".Meanwhile, writing in his blog, the Daily Telegraph's religious affairs commentator, Damian Thompson, described the services as "an embarrassment; a relic of old-style gay rights campaigning that scandalised large numbers of Catholics".

The "new evangelization"?

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

"I honestly have no idea how the Pope expects even celibate gays to live."Cupcake, this is from that document that David and I have been excerpting:"Among other rights, all persons have the right to work, to housing, etc."All persons, gay or straight, have a right to these things. What the document in question says is that homosexual persons don't have a right to sinful behavior.

Questions:1. What you call "conservative Anglicans" are really Catholics who use the Anglican liturgy, no? So the church in question isn't kicking out homosexual parishioners in favor of Anglicans, correct?2. I read Thompson's blog entry (I got a page error when I tried to go to it from the Guardian article; it's here: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100196337/gay-masses-in...).The embarrassment seems to be only in the fact that the Mass made homosexual Catholics welcome. What's the embarrassment in that? It's not like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were serving up communion in pink habits.3. Oughtn't gay Catholics be welcomed into the larger life of the Church? Yes, I realize it's naive to assume they will be welcomed by everyone, and that it will cause a lot of discomfort for everyone (the same as divorced Catholics do). But doesn't the Church really have to come to grips with the fact that there are many devout, gay (and divorced) Catholics and it has a responsiility to minister to them? Providing them a "ghetto Mass" where they can be with their own simply perpetuates the divide.

Its not like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were serving up communion in pink habits. I hope no one will confuse the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (who wear pink habits) with the imaginary group mentioned in your confusing comment, Jean.http://www.mountgraceconvent.org/vocations.html

There was a blog post at The Tablet once about the Soho Masses that gives some background .... http://www.thetablet.co.uk/blogs/266/17 Nichols supported the Soho Masses in the past, by saying that there was no reason to just assume that the people attending were disobeying church teaching (anymore than straight people must be proven sin-free before they can go to communion), and he recognized that these masses encouraged people who were marginalized to feel safe. But With his Christmas sermon about the evils of marriage equality, and now this, he's sudden;y taking a strangely hard stance against the LGBT community - some have wondered if he has finally decided to work towards promotion by making the Vatican happy.Of course, the UK Catholic Herald and Damian Thompson have long been against the Soho Masses - they're as conservative as it comes and they have routinely in the past criticized Nichols for his liberalism on this ... http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2012/02/28/archbishop-nichols-reaff... Now there will be instead of masses for the LGBT community, a pastoral meeting, run by the Jesuit's Farm Street church.

PS .... http://www.sohomasses.com/ ... Soho Masses Pastoral Council

I think Jean's #3 waarants some continued thought. In our area, there is a special monthly liturgy for the gay/lesbian community (which I attended on occaison in the past, though I am not gay and found it warm and welcoming), but perhaps 40-50% are likewise members of a couple of different parishes whihc are very open and affirming in some formal and informal ways. It seems important to not ghettoize and yet to acknowledge that at times it is worrthwhile to have a special liturgy, but for a the healthier church and affirmnation of all, to be looking for the communities that are truly signs to all.

I see that Andrew Brown has a post today on this ... http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2013/jan/03/catholic...

In previous times in the US there were whole parishes for immigrant groups, with their languages spoken there. There are still Spanish Masses here, and a Vietnamese parish. I wonder if there are Polish parishes in England now.Archbishop Nichols once supported civil unions for gay people, and the CDF didn't like it. He's still not a Cardinal, and some are wondering if it's because of his prior support for gays. See this Tablet article.http://www.thetablet.co.uk/

I agree that Jean's third point is an important one. Perhaps I did not read Archbishop Nichols' statement closely enough, but I thought his emphasis on an individual's personhood rather than a sexual identity was positive. My small suburban parish would be a poorer place without the homosexual couples who worship there. Many of them are now married thanks to changes in the law here in the NY metro area. We are big tent people so why not, as David suggests, have special liturgies? Let there be joy.

Dr. William Oddie discerns the hand of the CDF and its new prefect behind this move.http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2012/11/01/the-new-prefe... the other hand, the Soho Masses Pastoral Council, in its own statement, supports the move of the ministry to Mayfair, and indicates that, contrary to what is being reported, masses for the community will continue in the new location.https://302c6eb8-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/sohomasseslond...

There is no place in the Catholic Church for "gay Catholics" if gay is taken to mean "homosexual persons who embrace their orientation and do not consider homosexual acts to be intrinsically evil." The Church cannot be seen to allow "non-celibate gay people" to attend Mass and receive communion. It seems to me the best that can be hoped for given current teachings is that "non-celibate gay people" be welcomed in the same manner as the divorced and remarried. They are supposed to be welcomed in parish life, but they may not receive communion. However, there are a number of ways the divorced and remarried may be reconciled with the Church (annulment, the "internal forum") that simply aren't open to non-celibate gay people. The way for non-celibate gay people to be accepted into the Church is to become celibate gay people, divorce themselves from the gay community, and if at all possible go back into the closet.

"There is no place in the Catholic Church for 'gay Catholics' if gay is taken to mean 'homosexual persons who embrace their orientation and do not consider homosexual acts to be intrinsically evil.'"Perhaps there is no place for gay Catholics at the Table here on earth, David N. Not today. Perhaps not ever in this earthly vale of tears. However, there is no prohibition on any well-behaved, sincere individual, however short of Church teaching they've fallen, to attend Mass and to hope for the spiritual communion which God confers. If gay Catholics and the rest of us sinners leave a) we deprive ourselves of the Word of God and b) we deprive the smaller, purer people of their comfy little enclaves where everybody looks and thinks just like them. It may seem like heaven to them here, but I doubt that's what heaven turns out to be like.

"I hope no one will confuse the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (who wear pink habits) with the imaginary group mentioned in your confusing comment, Jean."I hope not, too, Gerelyn. Clearly, you weren't, but I thank you for clarifying.

EDIT: If gay Catholics and the rest of us sinners leave a) we deprive ourselves of the Word of God and b) we ALLOW the smaller, purer people of their comfy little enclaves where everybody looks and thinks just like them. It may seem like heaven to them here, but I doubt thats what heaven turns out to be like.Sorry.

Tangential - In this year's Christmas address to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict said: "[The Chief Rabbi of France] quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: one is not born a woman, one becomes so (on ne nat pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term gender as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. [] What applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature [] now becomes mans fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. "I don't think gays and lesbians say that they chose to be homosexual. I don't think that they want the right to choose between being straight and being gay. Instead, my impression is that at some point they discover that they are homosexual by nature. They want, not the right to choose what they want to be, but the right to be what they truly are by nature. In addition, the above seems to be an assessment of transgender people rather than homosexuals. Being gay is not the same as claiming to have the inner nature of a woman, is it? Pope Benedict has a blind spot on the subject. He can talk, but with this kind of reasoning he will have trouble persuading anyone.

There's such a double standard. Straight Catholics behave in ways that go against the church's teachings - for instance, most Catholics use birth control and most Catholics have premarital sex - but the church doesn't pin them down on this and they are free to take communion without challenge. As Andrew Brown mentioned in his post, there are often masses for other groups, like youth masses, etc., and there are other groups who are not supposed to take communion, like divorced and remarrieds, but none of those groups is the recipient of organized protests and what seems to me like hatred. That was one reason the Soho Masses were allowed in the first place.

I agree with others; I' m not sure there should be separate masses for affinity groups. I don't like ethnic parishes, and am not crazy about Children's Masses. I think they separate us more than unite us. (We had Pink Sisters in Philly, too. "The Convent of Divine Love". I also like the order of sisters that used to wear purple habits and now wear purple suits/dresses.).

Though, contradicting myown comment above, I also think that if it is really important to someone that they go to a Gay Mass or a Latin Mass, I think they should definitely be able to go to one. Better to go to Mass than not;whatever brings you closer to Jesus,.

Does an exclusive Mass bring anyone closer to Jesus?

It's like preferring white bread to whole-wheat.

"The way for non-celibate gay people to be accepted into the Church is to become celibate gay people, divorce themselves from the gay community, and if at all possible go back into the closet."I'd like to think that the way for gay people to be accepted into the church is to be initiated. I don't think - I hope it's not required - that gay people need to divorce themselves from the gay community, nor that they go back into the closet.

"I m not sure there should be separate masses for affinity groups"There can be more than one reason for these. The purpose of a children's mass presumably is catechetical, as we don't expect them to have an adult faith yet. The purpose of a mass in Spanish for believers for whom Spanish is their first language is to allow them to engage in thanks and praise more fully than they otherwise could.Presumably, the purpose of an LGBT mass is that LGBT believers have been made to feel marginalized and unwelcome at other parishes and masses. Having a mass for victims of injustice who aren't welcome elsewhere strikes me as a pastoral response.(FWIW, the official statements seem to studiously avoid giving reasons for the decision. I suppose it really could be mundane reasons like lack of space at the previous location. Whatever the real reason(s), it is worth noting that, according to the Soho Masses group itself, the masses will continue at the new church.)

I just want to note that it's interesting that Cardinal Newman has been invoked in this dispute. I've read somewhere (probably here) that some historians think he may have been gay. Could it have seemed fitting that the Soho mass was celebrated in this church with a Newman connection? And now, with the Our Lady of Walsingham org taking possession of the parish, it is stated that it is fitting that this is a church with a connection to Newman, perhaps the most famous Anglican to swim the Tiber.

And perhaps the most famous Tiber-swimming Anglican who was gay? .... http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129930850

Jim Pauwels--I think you're misreading the statement of the Soho Masses organizers. It looks like there will be no "special" mass any longer, but that the masses that they refer to are the regular ones of the parish they'll now be attending. Thus the line about them being "relieved" of the obligation to prepare the masses. I also am not sure what your reference to a parish associated with JHN means. Does this parish have some historic connection to him? I don't know London at all, but he was an Oratorian, not a Jesuit, so there's no connection there that I know of. I am curious as to what, if any, difference it makes to all this that they are now associated with a parish run by the SJs and not the Archdiocese.

Irene: You are right to worry about fragmentation of our Catholic community, but this also needs to be balanced with the pastoral needs of individual groups. For gays and lesbians, there are many parishes that will welcome them like they would anyone else, but there are also priests and parishes that will make them very unwelcome. For many risking painful rejection keeps them from trying any parish. Outreach programs like this signal that they don't need to be afraid of their fellow Catholics.

Gerelyn--The Sisters of Perptual Indulgence are not an imaginary group, but were involved in a minor kerfluffle a few years back in San Francisco:http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=1345

Hi, Andy:They are "imaginary" in the sense that they are not Sisters. The "kerfluffle" (sic) that you refer to was not "minor" as the thread you linked makes clear. (Why do so many people -- gay and straight, male and female, lay and ordained -- hate nuns? Why the grotesque mockery? What deep nastiness does it reveal?) ----------My favorite (American) converts from English Catholicism to Roman Catholicism are Venerable Cornelia Connelly and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelia_Connelly (Her husband was . . . . Pierce. They were big news in their day.)Nice that the door swings both ways, that Anglicans/Episcopalians can become Roman Catholics and that Roman Catholics can join the Anglican/Episcopal Church. This Anglican/Episcopal order, founded by Harriet O'Brien Monsell, might appeal to women unable to find a Roman Catholic community that suits their needs:http://www.csjb.org/index.php

Id like to think that the way for gay people to be accepted into the church is to be initiated. I dont think I hope its not required that gay people need to divorce themselves from the gay community, nor that they go back into the closet.Jim Pauwels,If one believes a homosexual orientation is "a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil," and that the "inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder," that homosexual acts are "acts of grave depravity" and constitute "behavior to which no one has any conceivable right," why would anyone not want to divorce themselves from the gay community and go back into the closet? The gay community is based on an acceptance of a homosexual orientation as something either neutral or good. The Catholic Church requires the rejection of a homosexual orientation as an inclination to evil. The two views simply cannot be reconciled. One can, I imagine, see the Catholic Church approving of the "gay community" as something like a cancer-sufferrers' self-help group, bound together by something they would eradicate in themselves if only they could. But that is nothing even remotely what gay people think of as the gay community. If a gay person becomes convinced of the teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality, I see only one reason for that person to continue contact with the gay community, and that would be to urge gay people embrace the Church's teachings and no longer think of themselves as gay.There is no way to sugar coat it. The Church does not want gay people (as I define themthose who embrace their orientation as something not evil) to exist.

The headline of this thread is most unfortunate. It only serves to perpetuate the falsehood that gays are not welcome in the Catholic Church. Nothing could be further from the truth, and spreading that lie only encourages them to feel unwelcome, fostering bitterness rather than a new evangelization.And whats with the Conservative Anglicans welcome part? Will there be a mass held specifically for conservatives? Apparently thats the criterion for being welcome.

It only serves to perpetuate the falsehood that gays are not welcome in the Catholic Church. Mark Proska,Gays are not welcome in the Catholic Church. It's just a fact.Celibate homosexual persons are welcome in the Church, although not in the priesthood, and not as teachers, coaches, etc. "Non-celibate gays" are unrepentant sinners in the eyes of the Church. They deny and defy the Church's teachings on sexuality. The Church welcomes sinners, but not unrepentant ones.

David Nickol--Of course the Church welcomes unrepentant sinners, it just wants them to repent. It's the unrepentance that's not "welcome", if you insist on using that word.The "Gays are not welcome in the Catholic Church" rallying cry is simply a petulant, puerile, nobody-loves-me rationalization.

Mark, stop trying your act out again. It's petulant and puerile.

Celibate homosexual persons are welcome in the Church, although not in the priesthood, and not as teachers, coaches, et just as normal and valid as heterosexual actsc. Non-celibate gays are unrepentant sinners in the eyes of the Church. They deny and defy the Churchs teachings on sexuality. The Church welcomes sinners, but not unrepentant ones.This statement by David Nickol is dead on. The issue is not orientation, it is the conscious decision by a gay-oriented person that "I am not a sinner because I indulge in homosexual acts; homosexual acts are every bit as valid and normal as heterosexual acts, and I reject the Church's teaching otherwise."This isn't rocket science.

I think David's right. Fr, Martin once wrote a post .... http://americamagazine.org/content/all-things/what-should-gay-catholic-do .... that listed all the things that according to the hierarchy gay Catholics cannot do ... enjoy romantic love, marry, adopt a child, enter a seminary, work for the church and be open. And from the constant attacks on gays in the pope's many messages, you'd think they're more dangerous than plutonium.

"If one believes a homosexual orientation is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil, and that the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder, that homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity and constitute behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, why would anyone not want to divorce themselves from the gay community and go back into the closet? "Because one has friends in the gay community and relies on those friends for friendship and emotional support? And because gay persons come from all different backgrounds and walks of life, and a gay person's religious heritage and beliefs shouldn't disqualify her her from membership in the gay community?What you're saying, in effect, is that there is no room for the Catholic church to minister to gay persons, because the two are utterly irreconcilable; one can be accepting of his sexuality, or one can be Catholic, but one can't be both. As I say, I'd like to think that's not true - I believe that a person should be able to stand up and say, "I'm gay, and I'm also Catholic". Or even, "I'm gay, and I work for the Catholic church." And, to take it to the next step: if a gay person reports that she's been discriminated against or a victim of violence or a hate crime, the Catholic church should say, "We will stand with you; we will raise our voices alongside yours to make sure that your voice is heard, and the injustices redressed." And the Catholic Church should be saying to the gay community, "we will collaborate with you to create laws and policies that protect your human and civil rights."If what you think is true, then the Soho Masses ministry, and all of the LGBT outreach ministries that are running in dioceses and Catholic campuses, are pretty much a complete waste of time and money, and should be shut down immediately.

Response on behalf of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council to Archbishop Vincent Nichols invitation to the Soho Masses to move to the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Farm Street, London W1K 3AH:Following several weeks of reflection on the benefits and potential challenges which itrepresents to our pastoral outreach to the LGBT Catholic Community on behalf of the Diocese of Westminster, the Soho Masses Pastoral Council is pleased to accept Archbishop Vincent Nichols invitation to transfer our base of activity from the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory to the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Farm Street.We are also very grateful to the Jesuit Community at Farm Street for the welcome andhospitality they have offered there as well as to the Provincial and Superior of the Society.The purpose of the Soho Masses has been, and remains, to encourage the LGBT CatholicCommunity to participate fully in the life of the Church, the diverse body of Christ, throughparticipation in the Mass, and through shared prayer.In this we have become victims of our own success, in terms of the number of people whohave joined the Eucharistic Community of our congregation. This means that, while the body of the church in Warwick St. is still adequate to our number, the lack of other facilities in the 18th Century building has become a limiting factor in organising social and pastoral activity and prayer, in particular for elderly, infirm or disabled people. We therefore look forward with much anticipation to the opportunity of using the greater space offered by the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and, since we have kindly been relieved of our responsibility of organising the Mass, to respond positively to the Archbishops challenge to develop our pastoral work in this new phase of our peripatetic existence.The Masses at Farm Street will, clearly, continue to be at the heart of our life in communion, and of our pastoral activity, and we look forward to participating fully in them. We are sure those priests with connections to Farm St. who have ministered to us at Warwick Street in the past will make us feel especially welcome.Our only reservation regarding the transfer of base is that our title becomes somewhat of amisnomer, in that we shall be in Mayfair, rather than in Soho. However, given the value ofthe title Soho Masses we shall continue to use it. www.sohomasses.com

The above post was an earlier version of the Soho Masses Statement and has been revised slightly:Response to Archbishop Vincent Nichols invitation to the Soho Masses to move to the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Farm Street,London W1K 3AHFollowing several weeks of reflection on the benefits and potential challenges which it represents to our pastoral outreach to the LGBT Catholic Community on behalf of the Diocese of Westminster, the Soho Masses Pastoral Council is pleased to accept Archbishop Vincent Nichols invitation to transfer our base of activity from the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory to the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Farm Street. We are also very grateful to the Jesuit Provincial and Community Superior at Farm Street for the welcome and hospitality they have offered there.The purpose of the Soho Masses has been, and remains, to encourage the LGBT Catholic Community to participate fully in the life of the Church, the diverse body of Christ, through participation in the Mass, and through shared prayer. In this we have become victims of our own success, in terms of the number of people who have joined the Eucharistic Community of our congregation. This means that, while the body of the church in Warwick St. is still adequate to our number, the lack of other facilities in the 18th Century building has become a limiting factor in organising social and pastoral activity and prayer, in particular for elderly, infirm or disabled people. We therefore look forward with much anticipation to the opportunity of using the greater space offered by the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and, since we have kindly been relieved of our responsibility of organising the Mass, to respond positively to the Archbishops challenge to develop our pastoral work in this new phase of our peripatetic existence.The Masses at Farm Street will, clearly, continue to be at the heart of our life in communion, and of our pastoral activity, and we look forward to participating fully in them. We are sure those priests with connections to Farm St. who have ministered to us at Warwick Street in the past will make us feel especially welcome.Our only reservation regarding the transfer of base is that our title becomes somewhat of a misnomer, in that we shall be in Mayfair, rather than in Soho. However, given the value of the title Soho Masses we shall continue to use it. www.sohomasses.com

And the Catholic Church should be saying to the gay community, we will collaborate with you to create laws and policies that protect your human and civil rights.Jim,But the Catholic Church is opposed to legislation that explicitly protects the rights of gay people. See Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons.Some key excerpts:

Including "homosexual orientation" among the considerations on the basis of which it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead to regarding homosexuality as a positive source of human rights, for example, in respect to so-called affirmative action or preferential treatment in hiring practices. This is all the more deleterious since there is no right to homosexuality which therefore should not form the basis for judicial claims. The passage from the recognition of homosexuality as a factor on which basis it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead, if not automatically, to the legislative protection and promotion of homosexuality. A person's homosexuality would be invoked in opposition to alleged discrimination, and thus the exercise of rights would be defended precisely via the affirmation of the homosexual condition instead of in terms of a violation of basic human rights.

Later on, the document says the following:

Since in the assessment of proposed legislation uppermost concern should be given to the responsibility to defend and promote family life, strict attention should be paid to the single provisions of proposed measures. How would they affect adoption or foster care? Would they protect homosexual acts, public or private? Do they confer equivalent family status on homosexual unions, for example, in respect to public housing or by entitling the homosexual partner to the privileges of employment which could include such things as family participation in the health benefits given to employees?

And what might be the result of legal protection of gay rights? According to Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons:</a?

But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.

Father Komonchak occasionally reminds us that we should be clear what we are referring to when we say "the Church." I am referring here to official pronouncements from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the pastoral care of homosexual persons, on the topic of legal approval of same-sex unions, and on nondiscrimination against homosexual persons. All of these documents bear the signature of Cardinal Ratzinger. So in speaking of "the Church" in this case, I am speaking of Pope Benedict XVI and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

If what you think is true, then the Soho Masses ministry, and all of the LGBT outreach ministries that are running in dioceses and Catholic campuses, are pretty much a complete waste of time and money, and should be shut down immediately.Jim Pauwels,I think Benedict XVI and the CDF would think of LGBT outreach ministries would be very similar to outreach ministries to, say, prostitutes. The goal would not be to support them in their current lives except insofar as to maintain contact and attempt to persuade them (and help them) to extricate themselves from their present "lifestyle." I am not saying that to denigrate Catholic LGBT outreach ministries. From the viewpoint of the Church, it is absolutely the right thing to do. But of course from the viewpoint of the gay community, the Church is (for lack of a better word) the enemy.

According to the posts earlier this morning, the Soho Masses Pastoral Council seems to have gracefully adapted to the changes. I think the rest of us should be supportive of whatever approach this pastoral council chooses to take.

David - church teaching develops; and regarding that CDF document, which is now 20 years old, there are some things in that document that I'd like to think the church would no longer say (as, for example, the statement that it is not unjust to discriminate against the employment of homosexual teachers or in the recruitment of military personnel). But note this passage:"It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law. But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered."This passage illustrates the balance that I believe the church needs to maintain. As I've said here before, I believe the church can do much more than it does, without compromising its moral code, to stand against "violent malice in speech or in action."The document also says this:"Homosexual persons, as human persons, have the same rights as all persons including the right of not being treated in a manner which offends their personal dignity (cf. no. 10). Among other rights, all persons have the right to work, to housing, etc. Nevertheless, these rights are not absolute. They can be legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct. This is sometimes not only licit but obligatory. This would obtain moreover not only in the case of culpable behavior but even in the case of actions of the physically or mentally ill. Thus it is accepted that the state may restrict the exercise of rights, for example, in the case of contagious or mentally ill persons, in order to protect the common good."Again, note the balance: gay persons have the same basic human rights as any other person. But they don't have a completely unfettered right to homosexual conduct (which, according to the church's moral code, is always sinful), when that conduct would impinge on the rights of other people. For example, parents have an obligation to not expose their children to sinful behavior.

But they dont have a completely unfettered right to homosexual conduct (which, according to the churchs moral code, is always sinful), when that conduct would impinge on the rights of other people. For example, parents have an obligation to not expose their children to sinful behavior.Jim Pauwels,I think you are bending over backwards to read these documents in a positive light. For example,

Nevertheless, these rights are not absolute. They can be legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct.

I think you would interpret "objectively disordered external conduct" to be something like obscene public displays. However, I believe it would include entering into a same-sex partnership or a same-sex marriage. I believe the Church would be comfortable with landlords refusing to rent apartments to such couples. There has been absolutely no sign that the Church has backed away from any of the documents I refer to, and of course (at least from my point of view), the election of Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy only served to make them more relevant.

As the Guardian piece suggests, the timing of this seems like it might be motivated by opposition to the government's plan to recognize same-sex marriage in the UK:"The move comes as the Catholic church fights plans for same-sex marriage. Nichols has been one of the loudest voices opposing government plans to allow same-sex marriage, criticising them as "a shambles" and "Orwellian" in a BBC interview broadcast on Christmas Day." Is the New Evangelization also a political movement?

The Tablet makes he connection, while defending the Archbishop:"Like his predecessor, Archbishop Nichols has robustly ignored the small but vociferous lobby that protested against the Soho Masses, essentially telling them Judge not, lest ye be judged. This may well have required successive archbishops to turn a blind eye towards some of those who attended the Masses, who may have been living in gay relationships and who nevertheless may have been going forward for Holy Communion. But the issue of gay sex and Catholicism has taken on such a high profile, thanks to the gay-marriage debate, that such an approach is no longer deemed tenable. But deemed by whom? By Archbishop Nichols certainly; but there have been indications that significant figures in the Roman Curia not only want the Soho Masses stopped but also want the bishops of England and Wales, led by their president, to take a much firmer line. In this light, Archbishop Nichols statement is as significant for what it does not say as for what it does. He refuses to moralise. Strings may have been pulled in Rome, but he is not their puppet."It is still unfortunate that political pressure and increased public attention concerning the Church's teaching on gay marriage would preclude the possibility of "gay" worship, especially since it seems to have been a source of community and refuge for gay Catholics. This kind of internal overreaction seems only to weaken the Church's witness to the larger public, making it look less tolerant than its official teaching actually is. As David suggests, what is the evangelical advantage in that?See: http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/163638

"I think you would interpret objectively disordered external conduct to be something like obscene public displays. However, I believe it would include entering into a same-sex partnership or a same-sex marriage. I believe the Church would be comfortable with landlords refusing to rent apartments to such couples."David - yes, you're right in how I interpreted that statement, and I believe you're also correct that the church believes that a landlord can legitimately refuse, for reasons of religious liberty, to rent an apartment to a gay couple in a same-sex partnership or same-sex marriage.

David, rather than hearing from you what Pope Benedict and the CDF say and what it means, I'd rather read your own analysis of how, precisely, they are wrong. Your own perspective would be more interesting than a mere repeat of texts and interpretation of what those texts mean.

I honestly have no idea how the Pope expects even celibate gays to live. He has provided no examples of professions where gays shouldn't be discriminated against and has listed several where they should be. Others have expressed support of the right of landlords and other businesses to discriminate against gays, and there is no way for a landlord or business owner to tell whether someone is truly celibate.Christian morality should have empathy for all and not rely on the kindness of the less holy and less pure to ensure that people don't end up jobless and homeless.

and I believe youre also correct that the church believes that a landlord can legitimately refuse, for reasons of religious liberty, to rent an apartment to a gay couple in a same-sex partnership or same-sex marriage.Jim,You said above that the Catholic Church should say to the gay community, "We will collaborate with you to create laws and policies that protect your human and civil rights." What kind of partner to the gay community would the Catholic Church be regarding human and civil rights if it supported the right of landlords to discriminate against gay couples in the housing market?

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About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.