Fr Tim Finnegan has posted a link containing footage from the infamous Soho Square Gay Masses.
Whilst I am always very wary about jumping on bandwagons, the footage shown does seem rather worrying. Without ever having attended one, I can only give the perspective of a third party, which is that from what I have seen, these Masses would appear to be very unhelpful pastorally. Whilst the magisterium is very clear that homosexuality is not a sin, it is also abundantly clear that we are made in the image of God and as such there are so many more facets to our humanity than our sexual preferences. The main problem with the LGBT movement and also with feminism to some extent, is that they identify themselves purely on the basis of sexuality, or in the case of feminism, gender. To live a lifestyle solely centred around one aspect of your humanity is deeply problematic as it limits spiritual growth and encourages self-centredness.
Rainbow flags and transgender wigs should have no place therefore in a Mass which is primarily concerned with sacrifice and following the example of Christ and giving everything up to the Lord. These very secular and earthly symbols are signs of our clinging on to ourselves, of celebrating our sins as virtues and of how we block out God.
With that in mind, I see no problem with holding specific Masses to meet a pastoral need. I can well see how a regular Mass offering intentions for those struggling to remain chaste could be enormously helpful and how Catholics with same sex attraction could find the support invaluable. I presume that this was the intention behind these Masses. Apparently some very reputable speakers such as Fr Timothy Radcliffe have been involved, so I am loathe to condemn them as a hotbed of heterodoxy and encouragement to sin.
I am also in accordance with the notion that those who are making judgements on who should receive communion must “hold their tongues”. Canon law is very clear that the decision on whether to receive or not lies with the individual worshipper and the priest. If a priest judges a person fit to receive then we must trust the judgement that accompanies his power as Christ’s representative here on earth in the sacraments and the charism of ordination. It is not for any of us to be Pharasaical based on assumption or outward appearances.
But what is apparent is that regardless of the intention behind the Soho Masses, regardless of the realities and the personal circumstances of those attending, they appear to be contradicting the teaching of the Church and reinforcing spiritually damaging behaviour. They are certainly causing confusion in the national press, with various commentators citing them as examples of a ‘more modern enlightened’ Church.
They therefore need to stop, not only for the scandal that they are causing, but also for the hurt that they are causing so many faithful Catholics including those who are eschewing a gay lifestyle and identity and attempting to live chastely. If not stopped, then they need to be radically overhauled, a specific targeted Mass is one thing, a celebration of a potentially erroneous lifestyle (I use potentially because I cannot judge the situations of those I don’t know), quite another. It is also not congruent with a Church who is fighting to stop the redefinition of marriage.
Perhaps a different location and a different liturgical feel is needed for these Masses? We are all sinners, homosexuality in itself is no sin, but living an actively homosexual life will damage your relationship with God and must not be endorsed. Even if the reality is very different, this seems to be the message that is being sent out so some changes urgently need to be made, whilst ensuring adequate pastoral support is in place.
Whilst a rainbow flag is a sign of welcome and indeed all sinners are welcome, regardless, in the Church, the flag is seen as embracing a LGBT lifestyle. Those brandishing the flag must be aware that it is a highly charged political symbol with no more place in a Church than a political party logo. I live in Brighton, I am surrounded by Rainbow flags, I know what they symbolise and that is not “we are living in accordance with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church“.