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May 2007

Rome betrays the English faithful... again.

Selling Out to Sodom

MICHAEL McGRADE

In Basil Hume’s Lavender Legacy - Sacrilege in Soho (June/July 2006) we examined the public scandal of rebel priests celebrating Mass twice monthly for the radical homosexual movement Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (RCC) at St Anne’s Anglican church, Soho. To briefly recap: after several years of complaints from Catholics about this grave sacrilege, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor did the absolute bare minimum and asked the RCC to desist from celebrating these Masses and to stop using the title “Roman Catholic.” RCC responded by forming a sub-committee, titled Soho Masses Pastoral Council (SMPC) and simply continued celebrating the Masses under the SMPC aegis. (The same correspondence address is used for both the RCC and SMPC titles: PO Box 24632, London, E9 6XF.)

Clerical sodomite
While still at St Anne’s, RCC/SMPC issued a communiqué stating: “Mark your diaries for Sunday, 2 July 2006 - International Liturgy for Europride”. Europride is a festival in support of the ‘gay’ lifestyle and Europride Day was held on Saturday 1 July 2006. It is an event no faithful Catholic would have been able to support in good conscience, yet RCC/SMPC held an “International Liturgy” to celebrate it. The officiating priest at this “Europride Mass” was Fr Bernard Lynch SMA.

Fr Lynch spoke on a Radio Telefis Eireann radio show called People of God on 18 December 2004. The listing for the show on the website revealed that he is “a gay man living in a long term relationship. He wrote a letter shortly after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, published in several dissenting journals and websites, that was highly critical of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. It announced his complete rejection of Catholic teaching on homosexuality, to the extent of stating that he is “not interested” in anything the Church has to say on the matter. Lynch also admits to telling young men on their deathbeds, dying of AIDS - including priests - that they would not be condemned to eternal damnation because of what the Church teaches about homosexuality, and what he calls “their loving sexual behaviour.”

As the RCC/SMPC paraded through the streets of London at the Europride event, Fr Lynch assisted in holding its “Proudly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Proudly Catholic” banner, wearing his clerical collar and a rainbow hat. Photographs were posted on the SMPC website but have since been removed.

Despite all this, Westminster has repeatedly refused to comment on whether Fr Lynch has faculties to celebrate the sacraments within the Archdiocese.

Contempt and disregard
The contempt for Church teaching and authority manifested by RCC and its clerical lackeys was further evident in another communiqué about the Europride Rally, which brazenly disregarded the Cardinal’s directive to stop using the title Roman Catholic:

“Catholics for AIDS Prevention & Support, including Positive Catholics, will have an information stall at the Europride Rally in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, 1 July. This will be alongside stalls for the Soho Masses Pastoral Council, the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Quest, and the National Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement ....”

Catholics for Aids Prevention and Support is listed in the Catholic Directory with the approval of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, in spite of its dissent from Catholic teaching.

Dissident clerics
Other priests who continued to celebrate Mass for RCC/SMPC included Fr Diarmuid O’Murchu MSC - also notorious for his dissent from Catholic teaching. The Doctrinal Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain recently published a Doctrinal Note in order to bring to public attention the seriously erroneous affirmations found in Fr O’Murchu’s book Reframing Religious Life: An Expanded Vision for the Future. According to Fr O’Murchu, religious men and women “should leave the Church and take on a non-canonical status” since “the values of the Religious life belong to a more ancient pre-religious tradition.

It was no surprise to see Fr Derek Reeve’s name added to the list of priests celebrating Mass for this dissenting group, as he has always been open about his dissent from Church teaching and has now joined the RCC as a member of the steering group. This is in addition to his duties as a member of the Chaplaincy Team for Portsmouth University, giving support to students.

An article by Fr Reeve titled “Belatedly Appreciated” was published on the website of the dissenting group Catholics for a Changing Church. It ends: “I have enjoyed being a priest and I continue to enjoy it but I look forward to a time when the priesthood as we have known it will be no more and when we will be able to select from among our numbers those whom we want to serve us, women and men, and ask the bishop to lay hands on them to be our presiders at the eucharist, our preachers, our carers or whatever.”

Dissident Dominican
Of particular concern is Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP’s celebration of Mass for RCC/SMPC. Fr Radcliffe is a prolific speaker and writer, especially about homosexuality. In The Tablet of 28 January 2006 he wrote:

Let us glance at some touchy issues: sexual ethics, homosexuality and the ordination of women. Christian morality is not mostly about sex, despite the impression given by the media. It is fundamentally about becoming free and happy in God. But if the Church’s teaching about sex becomes radically out of touch with what Catholics live, then there is a problem. Many Catholics are divorced and remarried, or living with partners or practising contraception or are gay. To put it simply: should the Church accommodate her teaching to the experience of our contemporaries or should we stick by our traditional sexual ethics and risk becoming a fortress Church, a small minority out of step with people’s lives? Neither option seems right. In my book, I confess that I do not know the answer.

In the same article he ponders: “Are they [homosexuals] to be told that they must for ever be celibate?” And he answers: “I must confess that I do not know”. On the ordination of women, he asks: “Is it then true that women cannot be ordained?” Again answering: “I confess for a third time that I do not know”

While Fr Radcliffe doesn’t seem to know an awful lot about Catholic doctrinal and moral teaching, he opines with telling authority on ‘gay’ issues, stating: “I’m afraid I’m an old-fashioned traditional Catholic, and I believe that’s the wrong place to start. We begin by standing by gay people, as they hear the voice of the Lord that summons them to a life of happiness. We accompany them as they wrestle with discovering what this means and how they should walk, and this means letting our imaginations be stretched open to … watching Brokeback Mountain [a film about two sodomite cowboys], reading gay novels, having gay friends, making our beliefs of our hearts and our minds delighting in that being….” [Catholic World News, 6 April 2006]

It is bad enough that a priest so at ease with perversion and so alienated from Catholic teaching is permitted to celebrate Mass for a group of people who need unequivocal Catholic guidance. Far more worrying, however, is the fact that he was also invited to address Catholic youth at the Archdiocese of Westminster’s Annual Young Adults Festival titled Bright Lights 2006: Beautiful, an event which had the backing of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. Although complaints were made to Westminster, Fr Radcliffe’s invitation to speak was not withdrawn.

Westminster complicity
A report in the Spring 2006 issue of the RCC newsletter, gave the lie to Westminster’s claim that it had done, and was doing, all that it could about this problem. On page 2 the Convenor of RCC, Mike Egan, stated that “the Archdiocese could have made our celebration of the Mass practically impossible before now, and they have not done so ....” He added: “Two letters have been received, one from Bishop Bernard Longley to me in June, and one from John Arnold [then vicar general, now Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster] to Martin [Pendergast] in July; both letters were cordial, neither letter was exactly helpful but nor were they openly hostile, and neither letter gave rise to any difficulty we cannot surmount ....” 

Vatican mole
In the same report, Mr Egan stated that the group “view with optimism” the appointment of Cardinal William Levada as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Why would this dissenting group have been optimistic about Cardinal Levada’s appointment? Why might they have thought that he would approve of practising homosexuals sacrilegiously receiving Holy Communion at Masses being offered for them by dissenting priests? For the tragic answer, readers need only refer to John Vennari’s shocking account of the Cardinal’s longstanding ‘gay-friendly’ orientation [“Benedict’s Choice”, CO, Aug/Sept 2005].

Lies and Contradictions
The acknowledgement by RCC/SMPC that the Archdiocese failed to take the necessary action to stop its dissenting and sacrilegious activities caused grave concern. Along with the following matter, it began to raise serious questions about the overall approach of the Archdiocese to the problem of dissenting homosexual so-called ‘Catholic’ groups.

A statement was issued by the Archdiocese called “Pastoral Care of Homosexual Catholics in London” which started:

“For some time the Archbishop’s Council has been giving careful thought to the best way of providing appropriate pastoral care for homosexual Catholics in London.  It has been guided in this by the teaching of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its 1986 Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person.

The statement went on to say that “The Cardinal has accordingly appointed Fr Jim Kennedy, the Parish Priest of Blessed Sacrament parish, King’s Cross, as the Diocesan point of reference for this pastoral care ....”

It now appears that this statement is untrue, as it has emerged that Fr Jim Kennedy was allowing another dissenting homosexual group, Quest, to use its parish hall for parties, an Advent service, Steering Group elections, etc. This information was published in Quest’s own bulletins.

Cardinal Basil Hume removed Quest from the Catholic Directory in 1998 over a problem with part of its constitution, which states that the one of the purposes of Quest is to associate “lay men and women who are seeking ways of reconciling the full practice of their Catholic faith with the full expression of their homosexual natures in loving Christian relationships....” Allowing such a group to use Catholic premises is clearly not in keeping with the 1986 Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person, which states in section 17:

All support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted. Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and to the use of Church buildings by these groups, including the facilities of Catholic schools and colleges. To some, such permission to use Church property may seem only just and charitable; but in reality it is contradictory to the purpose for which these institutions were founded, it is misleading and often scandalous.”

On the one hand, the Archdiocese states that it is being “guided … by the teaching of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its 1986 Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person.” On the other,it acts in a totally contradictory manner, allowing a dissenting group to use Church premises.

Those who complained about the RCC/SMPC Masses to the Cardinal were told that he had done all that he could and that the only priests who were celebrating Mass for the RCC/SMPC were from religious orders, over which he had no jurisdiction. This, again, was untrue, as there were at least two diocesan priests celebrating Mass for RCC/SMPC - including one from the Cardinal’s own diocese - namely, Fr Shaun Middleton.

RCC/SMPC had its 2006 Annual General Meeting on Saturday 21 October at St Anne’s Anglican church, entitled “Fulfilling Our Created Design,” where it showed the film In Good Conscience by notorious dissident Sr Jeannine Gramick. Also in October 2006, the journal The Furrow published an article by Fr Enda McDonagh, called “Honourably Catholic and Honourably Gay”. This was a talk given by Fr McDonagh on 10 June 2006 at a liturgy in London to celebrate the registration of the civil partnership of the founder of RCC/SMPC, Martin Pendergast, and his “partner,” Julian Filochowski, ex-director of CAFOD.

Selling out
All of the above information along with indisputable supporting evidence was given to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and to various Prefects of the relevant Congregations in Rome, including Cardinal William Levada. Yet in spite of this, and despite the fact that it was widely publicised in the British Catholic press and elsewhere that Cardinal Levada had been closely involved in assisting the Archdiocese in this matter, the final “solution” to the problem was nothing less than a sell out - a total capitulation to the RCC/SMPC in respect of the Soho Masses.

The Catholic Herald of 16 February 2007 carried an article headed: “Vatican doctrinal chief gave blessing to ‘gay-friendly’ Masses after 10 revisions.” It revealed that

The Vatican gave its blessing to new fortnightly “gay-friendly” Catholic Masses in the heart of London, it has emerged.  Cardinal William Levada, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, personally authorised the services in Soho in an attempt to end a dispute which has raged since “irregular” Masses began at St Anne’s Anglican Church in Soho shortly after the death of Cardinal Hume in 1999. The original idea was to offer pastoral care to gay Catholics and their families and friends. But some Catholics had described the Masses as sacrilegious because they were being organised by people who explicitly rejected Church teaching that gay sexual acts are morally wrong. Catholic priests from all over the country were also celebrating the Masses without the permission of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster ... Cardinal Levada found a way through the impasse by moving the Masses to Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Warwick Street  - and insisting that they must conform to Church doctrine. He had sought a solution to the crisis for months and eventually agreed a document by the archdiocese after a series of revisions. Mark Dowd, chairman of Quest, a pastoral support group for gay Catholics, said the document had been rejected by the Vatican “about 10 times”.  “But it was finally approved by Cardinal William Levada himself”, he said.

The statement by the Westminster Archdiocese, along with a response from RCC/SMPC titled “Our Places at the Table” can be found on the SMPC website [http://sohomasses. googlepages.com/thestatements]. It is impossible to see how any Vatican “blessing” could have been given to any project involving RCC/SMPC when it is so openly militant and unrepentant in its stance on homosexuality.

Triumphal sodomites
The SMPC website trumpeted the news: “The Soho Masses are moving. As from March 4th 2007, the Soho Masses, welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered Catholics, parents, families and friends, will be celebrated at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory, Warwick Street, London W1B 5NB, at 17.00 on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month”.

Remember, this group has openly flouted Catholic teaching on homosexuality for years. Committee members have openly admitted that they are practising homosexuals, and some, like Martin Pendergast, who is the driving force behind the RCC/SMPC, have entered into “civil partnerships” with their homosexual “partners”.

Priests like Fr Shaun Middleton of the Westminster Archdiocese have remained in RCC/SMPC and continued to celebrate Mass and sacrilegiously give Holy Communion to openly practising sodomites. Ironically, Fr Middleton and Fr Jim Kennedy (who allowed the dissenting group Quest to use his parish hall) were named as the first celebrants for the RCC/SMPC Mass at the new venue. How can these priests be relied on to give pastoral care to homosexuals according to the norms laid down in the 1986 CDF document cited by Westminster, when both have contravened teachings found in that document?
Nobody is convinced by Westminster’s claim in its official statement that these Masses are part of the “normal pastoral outreach” of the Archdiocese. It is clear that RCC/SMPC is still running them. Nor is it pretending otherwise, stating on its website:

“The Soho Masses Pastoral Council is pleased to confirm that Masses for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Catholics, parents, families and friends, will relocate from St Anne’s Anglican Church in Soho, to the nearby Catholic Church of the Assumption, Warwick Street, London W1, with effect from Sunday 4 March 2007.  This follows a recent series of fruitful discussions between the SMPC and representatives of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Catholic Archbishop of Westminster.  The SMPC is an elected group of people from the Soho Masses congregation, responsible for the organisation of the Masses and responding to the pastoral needs of this community. . . ”

The secular media has, in general, also reported that the Masses are being run by the SMPC. A Sunday Telegraph article [18/2/07] stated that the SMPC is “an influential group of gay Catholics who had campaigned to have their own services formally recognised by the Church” and that they “will hold their first official service at Our Lady of the Assumption in Soho, London, next month ....”

Holy Mass as ‘political tool’
Since it is beyond doubt that RCC/SMPC is involved in running these Masses, it makes little or no difference that assurances have been given by those in authority either in Rome or in Westminster that the Masses must conform to Church teaching. Clearly, the Mass is being used by this group as a political tool, being part of a wider campaign to gain general acceptance of sodomy and other homosexual practices both in the Church and society at large.

Indeed, even before the first Mass was held at the new venue, RCC/SMPC was already disregarding Westminster’s futile statement that “Information about the Mass will be sensitive to the reality that the celebration of Mass is not to be used for campaigning for any change to, or ambiguity about, the Church’s teaching.”

The SMPC website carries a picture of the new venue for the Masses - the Church of the Assumption, London - next to the Papal flag, and further down the same page there are various headings. Herewith some observations on the contents found under these  headings at the time of writing:

  • Latest News: Among other things, this features details of a course being led by dissenting homosexual ex-priest James Alison.  The course will partly take place at Fr Shaun Middleton’s parish of St Francis of Assisi, Notting Hill, London. The names of the committee members are published at the top of this page and include that of Terry Weldon, who made the following notorious statement in the RCC newsletter of Easter 2005, in an article titled “Making trouble from within”: “So: here I am, Catholic, homosexual, and in the quaint old-fashioned phrase, ‘practising’ in both respects. (Practice makes perfect).  I draw great strength from the community worshipping at St Anne’s, where I have become a regular, but will also soon become a fixture at a suburban parish ....” 
  • Homilies: This includes a bizarre “homily” given by the Anglican woman “priest” Clare Herbert at a Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany 2007 and a homily given by the aforementioned sodomite Fr Bernard Lynch at a celebratory Mass for a ‘civil partnership.’ A disingenuous disclaimer has been put at the top saying that the homily was given at a private celebration, not an SMPC Mass - but paraded, nonetheless, on its website.
  • Civil Partnerships: This gives lists of prayers and states at the top of the page: “These bidding prayers are among those used at Masses on the 3rd Sunday of each month.” It also lists other resources for similar material.
  • Other Websites: Under the section headed “LGBT Faith-Based Resources” there are plenty of dissenting websites, while groups that preach chastity and fidelity to Church teaching on homosexuality, such as EnCourage and Courage, are excluded.
All of these things, on a website using the Papal flag, carry very mixed messages and are anything but “sensitive to the reality that the celebration of Mass is not to be used for campaigning for any change to, or ambiguity about, the Church’s teaching”.

On the contrary, RCC/SMPC is trumpeting that it has “taken its place at the table.” And it has achieved this without challenge to any erroneous beliefs or sinful behaviour. Seeing the bad example that has been set, others will follow suit and the problem will worsen. Mark Dowd of dissenting group Quest, for instance, stated that it might “write to bishops with large settled gay communities in their dioceses, such as Salford, Birmingham, Nottingham and Leeds, to ask for “gay-friendly” Masses to be established there too”. [Catholic Herald, 16/2/07]. “Gay-friendly,” of course, is a euphemism for those who affirm the practise of homosexuality – or at the very least refuse to challenge it. 

Catholic reaction
Two articles were published in The Tablet on the ‘gay’ Masses. One by John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews and consultor to the Pontifical Council for Culture; another by James Alison, the dissident homosexual ex-priest.

John Haldane makes some very good points in his article, not least about Westminster’s fervent desire to appease dissenters as opposed to supporting those who strive – often with great difficulties – to remain faithful to Catholic teaching. He states:

The risks of confusing and giving scandal to the faithful, and of exploitation of the gift of the Mass, are obvious enough, but equally important is the seeming failure to give explicit support for groups that do seek to live in accordance with church teaching, groups such as Courage and Encourage.

The aims of Courage are defined by its five goals: chastity (live chaste lives in accordance with the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality); prayer and dedication (dedicate one’s life to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass and the frequent reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist); fellowship (foster a spirit of fellowship in which all may share thoughts and experiences and so ensure that no one will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone); support (be mindful of the truth that chaste relationships are not only possible but necessary in a chaste encouragement to one another in forming and sustaining them); good example (live lives that may serve as good examples to others).

These noble Christian goals are heroically pursued by members of Courage and others, and it was a missed opportunity in a statement on outreach and ministry to homosexual persons not to express explicit appreciation of those who seek to live in accord with the Church’s teachings, and not to acknowledge the good work of organisations such as Courage. It must be saddening for members of these to see groups hostile and unfaithful to the Church’s teachings given attention while they who strive to live in accord with the only teaching that has ever been promulgated by the Church go unacknowledged, let alone praised.

Modernist response
James Alison’s article, responding to Haldane, is arrogantly titled “On helping the faithful negotiate confusion,” when it is not the faithful who need help but, rather, Mr Alison and those like him who sow diabolic confusion on the matter of homosexuality.

Alison freely admits in this article that he was a “loyal but irregular attender of services at the Anglican St Anne’s Church, Soho.” He also underlines his divisiveness, stating: “I am in print as disagreeing with the current teaching of the Roman congregations in this area” (i.e. on homosexuality). Note the spurious references to “current teaching,” as if Catholic teaching on homosexuality will change in future, and “teaching of the Roman congregations” instead of “teaching of the Church”, as if Catholicism included more than one type of teaching on homosexuality.

Tragic error 
The very least Catholics have a right to expect is that any pastoral care for homosexuals should be overseen by clergy and assisted by laity who fully and unequivocally accept Catholic teaching on homosexuality; who have a proven track record of implementing genuine pastoral care based on the teachings of the Church. Since we have demonstrated that this is currently not the case, the sacrilege and scandal are set to continue.

A tragic error of judgement has been made by those in authority concerning these Masses. Whether or not they appear to conform to Church teaching is irrelevant. A precedent has been set and the damage has been done. It must be undone.

 

 

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