BY FREDDY GRAY
A GAY RIGHTS campaign group is considering whether or not to defy Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s ban on its Masses.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor this month ordered the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement to stop referring to itself as a “Catholic” organisation.
In a letter Mgr John Arnold, Westminster archdiocese’s vicar-general, told the group that they had “no official standing in the Catholic Church”.
He wrote: “No permission from the Archbishop of Westminster or the local parish priest has ever been given for a Mass to be celebrated at St Anne’s Anglican Church, Soho.” Mgr Arnold urged the group to communicate with Fr Jim Kennedy, the Cardinal’s official representative for homosexuals.
In response, the Soho Mass Pastoral Council, a group established by the Caucus, will meet at the end of July to decide on the future of the group. It is understood that Fr Jim Kennedy will attend the meeting.
The diocese has received a large number of complaints about the Caucus. Many Catholics fear that people assume that the group has support from the Church.
However, the Caucus dissents from Church teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual genital acts.
This week, Austen Ivereigh, the Cardinal’s director for public affairs, said: “The diocese has for some time recognised that there is a need for pastoral care of homosexuals.
“That is why Fr Jim Kennedy was given that responsibility. Homosexual people are important to the diocese, but so is Church teaching.” Westminster’s clampdown was prompted by a pamphlet entitled Not the only gays in the parish, in which Martin Pendergast, the group’s coordinator, advertised the Caucus’s activities during the Gay Pride celebrations in Hyde Park at the beginning of July. During the Gay Pride weekend, the group paraded a banner that read: “Proudly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered & proudly Catholic”.
They also organised a special Pride London Mass at St Anne’s on July 3. The Caucus has held regular Masses at St Anne’s Anglican Church in Soho since 1999. Mr Pendergast estimates that the services attract as many as 80 people.
Mr Pendergast refused to speak to The Catholic Herald, but in Not the only gays in the Parish he wrote: “We’ve seen these Masses as a service to the wider lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Catholic community, as well as to the Church as a whole.
“The community has now reached a strong position of maturity and it’s right that it should now take on fuller responsibility for its own future.
“We see this as totally in tune with the proposals for future pastoral development and renewal throughout the Archdiocese of Westminster where its Green Paper speaks of smaller vibrant communities committed to faith and justice.”