Soho Scandal

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“.

24 thoughts on “Soho Scandal

  1. Well done! Deo gratias for Caroline.

    One point:

    The Church, doesn’t call homosexual orientation a sin but an ‘objective, instrinsic moral disorder’.

    It is important the Catechism isn’t ‘spun’ on that point nor that it is overlooked.

    It is there for a reason and a good one at that. It isn’t there to demean homosexuals but to state the Truth that the homosexual orientation is a disordered aspect of our human nature.

    If you don’t mind me saying so, the rejection of that truth is the reason why these Masses have become so flamboyant and so obviously rejecting the Church’s message on chastity. What it is is not a celebration of Christ’s Sacrifice, but a celebration of ‘diverse’ sexualities and genders.

    For the Church’s message on marriage to be clear, as you say, these Masses must either change or be stopped.

  2. Sorry, this is more a comment for Fr Tim Finnegan’s blog but you seem to have to have some sort of google ID – which I don’t know how to get. having wathched the video I’m not sure what the issue is – why can’t a transgender man read the bidding prayers?

    1. I think it was the wording of the prayers themselves that were very unhelpful.

      Laurence – yes I know that homosexual orientation is an intrinsic disorder and I am happy to accept and acknowledge that point.

      The problem is, as you know, that many many people misunderstand what this means and find it offensive. Now the truth must not be hidden simply because it is offensive to some BUT when this comes up, I tend to explain that the Catechism is couched in theological and philosophical language as it is a teaching document. What the phrase morally disordered means, as I understand, is applying the principles of natural law, which isn’t as some people understand simply looking at nature (hence we get given examples of homosexual primates) but looking at what our bodies are “ordered towards” and that is not homosexual tendencies.

      That explanation detracted somewhat from the point I was trying to make, so I omitted it. Though I accept you are sceptical of spin, I do think it is very important to stress that the orientation is not in itself sinful, it is the acting out of it. But then again we all have temptations with which we struggle.

      Objectively speaking, why build an identity or a lifestyle, if you area Catholic around something you are struggling with? Would we have Masses for those who are tempted to theft, with the bidding prayers read by folk in stripy jumpers with masks and swag bags? Whilst that is a ludicrous example, you can obviously see the analogy. I guess the difference is that homosexual orientation is quite rightly not a criminal offence and it tends to hurt oneself the most, although the rights movement is having a negative impact upon society, given the potential effect upon marriage. I suppose we forget the power of sexual attraction which can drive people to allsorts. The perception is that the Church is obsessed with sex. We aren’t but we recognise that it’s the easiest and most common way that people get themselves into trouble.

  3. “Would we have Masses for those who are tempted to theft, with the bidding prayers read by folk in stripy jumpers with masks and swag bags?”

    My thoughts exactly! (Slightly envious you got there first!)

  4. It is a scandal and it should be cutailed or stopped outright. It hurts faithful Catholics struggling, it embarrasses traditional Catholics and it paints a picture of a Church that confuses and appears to be in the throws of some internal debate on the moral stauts of particular actions when it is not. Great posts. Keep up good work.

    PS You may find this interesting. http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science

  5. I will never understand what some LGBT groups see in catholicism. If you don’t believe in them, I can’t imagine why they should bother trying to believe in you.

  6. Caroline

    An excellent post,

    Now you mention “examples of homosexual primates” now this is rather interesting, how do we know if animals are homosexual?

    Yes, lots of animals have been declared to be homosexual, but I am interested in the reasoning used to deduce that they are homosexual.

    1. I think the answer is not that animals are innately homosexual but that certain external environmental factors may cause them to start exhibiting homosexual behaviour.

      Janet Smith references some fascinating studies involving colonies of macaque monkeys. Hormonal contraceptives were administered to all the females in the group whereupon all the males lost interest in them and started having sex with each other and the group social structure was disrupted. As soon as the contraceptives were withdrawn normal sexual behaviour and hierarchies re-commenced.

  7. I think all the time the Archbishop of Westminster ‘turns a blind eye’ to this scandal – he won’t get the red hat. But then I can’t understand why the Vatican can’t say anything – although there seems to be ‘trouble’ in the curia – Cardinal Bertone is in the spotlight for something I am not sure what. The other scandal I hear in the diocese of Westminster – is that re-marriages of catholics are being blessed in catholic churches. This is a fact with a couple of our parishioners. If that isn’t a cause for concern on top of the Soho business, well you just want to bang all their heads together don’t you?

  8. A very temperate post – perhaps too much so? Though of course temperance is a virtue.

    But on the ‘hold their tongues’ issue, I do think what we see here is somewhat akin to those politicians who proclaim themselves pro-choice, and yet still receive Holy Communion, (given the public association of this Mass with the notorious Queering the Church blog, and the fact that the convenor of one is a prime mover in the other).

    Because of their public proclamation of active dissent, I believe that it is no longer simply down to them and the priest. Not least because they are thereby using the Mass to endorse their erroneous lathspel (opposite of gospel) – see their public proclamations; but principally because they are endangering their own and others’ souls, and we have a duty of charity towards them.

    We are not judging them: they have openly proclaimed their objectively sinful actions, and their refusal to acknowledge them as such, let alone repent. For that reason, I will not accept that I and others should be silent in the face of this sacrilege, any more than I should if the local pro-abortion politician presented himself to a complicit priest for communion, whilst publicly proclaiming he was right as a Catholic to support abortion.

  9. I am disturbed by that video. These masses are a violent assault on those faithful Catholics struggling to embrace their crosses in a world increasingly hostile to Truth and Charity

  10. is it not about time faithful catholics sent a petition to the Archbp of W to stop this saga?
    Dominie
    I am not techno savvy enough to set one up where it would get enough traffic etc

  11. Fr Timothy Radcliffe – ” a very reputable speaker”? He may be a prolific speaker, but reputable . . . I would disagree. As far as homosexual people are concerned, he seems to offer the sort of pastoral care roundly condemned in the 1986 CDF document on the correct pastoral care of homosexual people (which can be found here: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html ) One example – Fr Radcliffe publicly admits that he doesn’t know if homosexuals should remain celibate. I quote from a piece he wrote in The Tablet dated 28 Jan 2006 http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/481 :-

    “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 asks the question about homosexual people:- “Are they to be told that they must for ever be celibate?” He answers it by saying “I must confess that I do not know”. On the ordination of women, he asks the question “Is it then true that women cannot be ordained?” and again answers by saying “I confess for a third time that I do not know”.

    For someone who doesn’t know a lot, he perhaps speaks too much.

  12. One of the prayers on the clip was about the church needing a life giving doctrine of sexuality that included everyone (or something like that) The Church does have a life giving doctrine of sexuality that includes everyone. The problem is that we fall into the trap of splitting sexuality off from our understanding of spirituality and personhood. Therefore sexuality becomes reduced down to functionality and focused on the act of intercourse itself and the context it can or cannot take place in. This very approach robs sexuality of any life. Celebate people are not devoid of sexuality. It isn’t denied because they are not doing the sexual act. Only when our awareness that sexuality is there to teach us about the nature of God’s love, only when we are aware that our true identity is found in God can we begin to understand our faith and our sexuality. Even for married people this is true. If the relationship itself is seen as an end in itself, rather that fulfilling the vocation God has called each husband and wife to, than their sexuality cannot bring them the life that God intended for them. We have a life giving doctrine of sexuality that includes everyone. It just need to be taught and lived.

  13. I agree with Part Time Pilgrim, very measured appraisal. This sort of thing sends out a mixed message which can’t help things. What the Church teaches on this makes a great deal of sense, so why can’t we teach it in a more cohesive manner, more often?

  14. I’ll do this direct. Me, or any of a number of people you have been trolling are sick of it. We will just go to the police. HUGE wodge of evidence. Ask your solicitor. Keep your nasty little fantasies to yourself. You hurt anyone else we go the police. Keep this as a screen grab and take it to your ‘legal team’.

  15. I’m quite literally a million miles away from agreeing with many of the assertions and beliefs expressed here, but appreciate the general approach, which is for the most part gentle, caring and concerned in origin.

    One point: “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.”

    The very same could, and is, said about religious dogma.

    1. That’s a fair point, although with religious dogma it’s about giving oneself wholly to God.

      But I guess you could say the same thing about any relationship be it straight or gay, i.e. that it teaches you just to give to another person and perhaps not the world at large. And though I accept and endorse Catholic teaching I can understand it must be hard not to be able to have a lifelong 100% committed relationship with another person. The human heart longs for love, but as St Augustine said “the heart is restless until it finds a home in thee (God)”.

      The problem is that some Catholic men are openly gay and practice celibacy which they find hard. As do heterosexual people because Catholic teaching is no sex outside marriage. The Masses are sending a really confusing signal which is a shame because pastorally they have the potential, I understand to be very very helpful.

      We teach that God loves you and accepts you as you are regardless.

      1. If you think the suggestion that homosexuality might not be a moral disoder is painful and offensive to the faithful, how do you think someone should recieve the news that they are disordered, morally dangerous, and cannot have a family? Stiff upper lip?

        I don’t mean to read too much into your phrasing, but are you saying that catholic teaching believes that gay people don’t suffer much from being forbidden to love – ever? That’s madness. If you were obliged to live that way it would rip your heart out. How could you expect otherwise from any other person?

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