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'Soho Masses' For Gay Catholics To End, Archbishop Of Westminster Vincent Nichols Announces

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Gay masses in Soho are to be cancelled, according to the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

The Catholic Herald reported that the fortnightly "Soho Masses" at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Warwick Street, established six years ago, will stop but pastoral care will still be continuing.

The services were intended to be “particularly welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, their parents, friends and families”.

vincent nichols

The announcement was made by Archbishop Vincent Nichols

The Diocese of Westminster said in a statement published in the Herald: "For many years now the Diocese of Westminster has sought to extend the pastoral care of the Church to those who experience same-sex attraction.

"This care has been motivated by an awareness of the difficulties and isolation they can experience and by the imperative of Christ’s love for all.

"In recent years this pastoral care has focused on the celebration of Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Warwick Street.

"Over these years, the situation of people with same-sex attraction has changed both socially and in civil law. However the principles of the pastoral care to be offered by the Church and the Church’s teaching on matters of sexual morality have not.

"First among the principles of pastoral care is the innate dignity of every person and the respect in which they must be held. Also, of great importance, is the teaching of the Church that a person must not be identified by their sexual orientation.

"The moral teaching of the Church is that the proper use of our sexual faculty is within a marriage, between a man and a woman, open to the procreation and nurturing of new human life.

"No individual, bishop, priest or lay-person, is in a position to change this teaching of the Church which we hold to be God-given. This is the calling to which we must all strive."

The statement said it was "time for a new phase" and to recognise "there is a distinction to be made between the pastoral care of a particular group and the regular celebration of the Mass.

"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 new arrangements are to come into effect during Lent 2013.

Damian Thompson, a traditionalist Catholic commentator who has opposed Soho Masses, said he welcomed the move.

The move is a significant win for traditionalists. Catholic commentator Damian Thompson wrote in his blog on The Telegraph: “The “gay Masses” were an embarrassment, a relic of old-style gay rights campaigning that scandalised large numbers of Catholics.

“To give this lovely 18th-century church to the Ordinariate is a huge boost for ex-Anglicans who are setting up their own structure, worshipping as Catholics in a style informed by Anglican spirituality.”

Archbishop Nichols used his Christmas address to call on Catholic followers to redouble their efforts to halt gay marriage legislation, calling it "Orwellian" and "shambolic".

“I urge everyone who cares about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their Members of Parliament, clearly, calmly and forcefully. Please do so as soon as possible,” he said in an open letter to parishioners, just before the new year.

Christmas, especially, is "a time in which to speak up for marriage, between a husband and a wife, as the heart of the family," he wrote.

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