The Tablet and the Elephant: the “Soho Masses”

As you know, the Archbishop of Westminster put an end to the infamous homosexual “Soho Masses”.  There is little question that Rome was involved in the decision.  But don’t be distracted by that and miss the more important point.

The Tablet (aka The Pill) has pieces about this in their upcoming, 5 January, issue.  I also noticed a blog post by their editor Catherine Pepinster HERE.

There is an elephant in the room that The Tablet has not yet dealt with… and I suspect is unlikely to deal with.

Pepinster makes a case for Masses for special groups: “…for Filipino people, say, or for Poles, or indeed for former Anglicans who want to maintain their links with their Anglican patrimony, will continue to be encouraged.” The upshot is, if there can be special Masses for Poles and Anglicans, then why not for “gays”?

This is where the elephant makes its presence known.

There can be Masses for homosexuals. I am sure that some readers will be shocked to learn that Fr. Z thinks there should be Masses for homosexuals. On occasion. For example, when (En)Courage has their meetings it would be entirely appropriate to have a Mass for those who attend.

The problem arises when Masses are transformed into something else. When, for example, rainbow flags (which are political) are displayed, when bidding prayers express things at variance with Catholic teachings, then the Masses have been transformed into protests against the Church’s teaching and they are, therefore, no longer appropriate.

Let there be Masses for different marginalized groups. Fine! Let there be Masses for, say, the divorced and remarried. Fine! But at the moment participants turn those Masses into a moment of dissent from the Church’s teachings, then the Masses must stop. If, for example, at such a Mass people who are divorced and remarried without any hint of a declaration of nullity are invited to come to Communion in spite of the Church’s law and doctrine, then those Masses are not longer ministry to the divorced and remarried. They are moments of dissent.  The become liturgical abuse.  They become a scandal.

The Soho Masses were not stopped because they were Masses for “gays”. They did not keep the balance right.

Let’s be clear. Ministry to homosexuals in the Church is fine. It is necessary.  There is no question that “Rome” (read: the bad guys in this story) would be okay with Masses for homosexual Catholics as a part of ministry.

The Soho Masses, on the other hand, had become something else.

Don’t be distracted by interesting stories that the suppression of the Soho Masses was orchestrated above Archbishop Nichols’ head by Roman homophobes, blah blah blah.

The elephant in the room is that these Masses in Soho had ceased to be true ministry.  Regardless of how they were stopped, that is why they were stopped.

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28 Responses to The Tablet and the Elephant: the “Soho Masses”

  1. MikeJ9919 says:

    Fr. Z – I think I agree with you here. Masses are held for special occasions, for specific purposes (a special concern or petition of the local community), and should also be held to demonstrate the Church’s ministry toward a particular group or the Church’s prayers and efforts to help those tempted by particular sins.

    But there is a fine line. There are many, many sins out there. The Devil seeks to devour our souls in any way he can. And while I see no reason to object to the occasional Mass for those struggling with the sin of substance abuse (just as an example), I think pastors should be careful here. The Universal Church should not be casually Balkanized in that way. We are all fellow sojourners here in the Church Militant.

    And then, of course, there is the more practical risk that unless there is a very clear mission of helping people avoid these sins, the group can simply bring together substance abusers or homosexuals or felons, etc., tempting them into further sin.

  2. Michelle F says:

    If a priest offered one of the Church’s approved Votive Masses instead of the Mass of the Day, and did in conjunction with some kind of catechetical class in which he explains the Church’s teachings on human sexuality would be good.

    If he also offered to hear confessions before the Mass, it would be very good!

  3. pmullane says:

    The problem with the Masses that were held in Soho was not that there was an outreach for homosexuals, the problem was that they were not teaching and upholding the truths of the Church, but promoting and advocating intrinsically sinful acts. This must be the refrain every time this subject comes up, as the cultural marxists will try to frame this as ‘Vincent Nichols marginalising outreach to appease his bigoted bosses in Rome’. We have seen this already on this very Blog.

    The fact of the matter were that these poor people were not being ministered to. They were being sold the same old lie of the ‘gay lifestyle’ in the one place they should have been able to hear the truth and had help to overcome their problems. Thats why Archbishop Nicholls has been kinder to them in ending this charade than he could ever have been in continuing with it.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    But, Father, it is not just the Masses. Last year at the Gay Pride Parade time, the bulletin had articles supporting gay activists who are not Catholic and blatantly anti-Catholic–in the bulletin.

    I saw this myself with my own eyes, or I would have not believed it. Also, at parade time, the parish had a special Mass. The person behind all of this is an ex-priest living in openness with his gay partner.

    This is not about the Mass, it is about the ideology which wants to Church to accept a deviant lifestyle.

  5. Supertradmum says:

    PS the bulletin advertised stuff off-site supporting gay pride as well.

    None of this is about leaving the gay lifestyle, but about perpetuating it.

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  7. StWinefride says:

    Father Z says: The elephant in the room is that these Masses in Soho had ceased to be true ministry.

    Exactly.

    Pope Benedict XVI on the dictatorship of modern relativism- 18 April 2005:

    Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be “tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine”, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.

    We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An “adult” faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceipt from truth.

    We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith – only faith – that creates unity and is fulfilled in love.

    On this theme, St Paul offers us as a fundamental formula for Christian existence some beautiful words, in contrast to the continual vicissitudes of those who, like children, are tossed about by the waves: make truth in love. Truth and love coincide in Christ. To the extent that we draw close to Christ, in our own lives too, truth and love are blended. Love without truth would be blind; truth without love would be like “a clanging cymbal” (I Cor 13: 1).

  8. medievalist says:

    Tablet in favour of Masses for special groups…so now they approve of Summorum Pontificum and the special groups mentioned therein?

  9. mschu528 says:

    I think Fr Z is right — there can be a time and place when a Mass for homosexual persons would be appropriate. Those who are afflicted with same-sex attraction and trying to live chastely according to Natural Law (in stark contrast to what society is telling them to do) need all the prayer and support we can give them, and yes, this could include a special Mass for their intentions. (Perhaps the Votive Mass for Obtaining the Grace of the Holy Spirit; or a Votive Mass of a saint particularly renowned for his/her heroic chastity, such as St Maria Goretti; or a Votive Mass of St John the Baptist who defended authentic marriage to the point of martyrdom; or perhaps just add the Commemorations for Continence to the Mass of the day).

    Clearly this was not what was happening in Soho (hence His Grace finally putting an end to the nonsense), but it still is conceivable that a Mass for those suffering from same-sex attraction could be a good and noble idea, and a true act of fraternal charity.

  10. Patrick-K says:

    I think this is a case of “give them an inch, and they take a mile.” I agree that Masses for specific groups, including those suffering from same-sex attraction, are not ipso facto bad. But there is a very fine line, very easy to cross, from Masses supporting those suffering from a particular temptation or other unfortunate type of situation, into a Mass that condones the temptation itself. Especially with the highly politically charged nature of this particular case, I think it is just too easy for it to become an occasion for sin (whether the denial of Church teaching or lust), and so ought to be done away with.

  11. But, for those disconcerted by altar girls and female readers within the sanctuary, is it not reassuring that all the “bidding prayers” for the “gay pride Mass” (linked by Father Z) are specified to be presented by male only readers, alternating between 1st male and 2nd male (dressed as female)? Or is there some other underlying implication of which I (in my innocence) am ignorant?

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Henry Edwards, apparently the priest forgot to tell his congregation that cross-dressing is a mortal sin.

  13. MikeJ9919 says: And while I see no reason to object to the occasional Mass for those struggling with the sin of substance abuse (just as an example), I think pastors should be careful here. The Universal Church should not be casually Balkanized in that way. We are all fellow sojourners here in the Church Militant.

    As others have pointed out, the solution is votive Masses. I believe there is in the 1962 Missal a votive Mass for the conversion of sinners.

    medievalist says: Tablet in favour of Masses for special groups…so now they approve of Summorum Pontificum and the special groups mentioned therein?

    Touche!

  14. cdnpriest says:

    I understand that the Church has a moral obligation to provide pastoral care for all, including for those who embrace a homosexual lifestyle. However, I have a problem with holding special Masses for these people. The main problem that I see is the following…

    One can justifiably assume that the vast majority of people attending such a Mass do not just have homosexual inclinations (which are not in themselves morally sinful) but also that they actively embrace a homosexual lifestyle (homosexual acts, which are gravely sinful). As a consequence, almost none of them should be approaching the altar for Holy Communion. Now if I, as a priest, were forced to celebrate such a Mass, I would find myself in a moral dilemma. Am I to give Holy Communion to all who request it, knowing fully well that I would be exposing Our Lord to many sacrilegious Communions? Or should I simply receive Holy Communion myself and not distribute Our Lord to the “faithful” in the congregation? Or perhaps I should be as controversial as one could imagine, and make an announcement before Holy Communion stating that those who are actively involved in homosexual activities are not to approach the altar to receive Our Lord? None of these options seem to be viable to me.

    If there are any priests reading this, who have celebrated such Masses, I would be interested in hearing how you have dealt with the problem I mention: namely, what to do at Holy Communion.

  15. jhnewman says:

    cdnpriest – Very good question regarding the distribution of Holy Communion. One would hope they were hearing confessions before/during mass… not convinced.

    Supertradmum – beat me to it!

    medievalist – now now, you know marginalising traditionalist is the last tolerated bigotry!

  16. Muv says:

    When I was a tiddler at primary school I remember being told that transubstantiation does not occur if God does not will it, for example if the priest has celebrated Mass irreverently. Am I right? Was the teacher right? Am I remembering right? Seems perfectly logical that God should opt out of a charade, in which case they weren’t Masses at all.
    And if ever I meet that ugly geezer in the black wig, frock and bra, I’ll kick him soundly up his chintz-clad rear and tell him that not only is God heartily miffed by his and his pals’ antics, but that his outfit is deeply offensive and insulting to every real woman who ever trod this earth, Our Lady in particular.
    As if he cares.

  17. lawoski says:

    cdnpriest –

    Earlier this year, Fr. Z blogged about a parish priest in Austria who, shortly before Communion, announced that only Catholics who were in a state of grace should come forward to Communion. When Communion time came, not a single adult came forward. Only children came forward to receive.

    Fr. Z’s blog post about the incident provides some of the commentary you are looking for. A link to the post is here:
    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2012/05/priest-predictably-criticized-for-telling-people-not-to-receive-communion-if-they-are-not-in-the-state-of-grace-fishwrap-exalts/

  18. marytoo says:

    I think they should be blended in with the rest of us sinners, not separated in their own Masses. Much easier for someone challenged in this way to concentrate on Mass if families, babies, kids, grandparents, singles, marrieds, etc. fill the church instead of men and woman who by their very presence tell the world what their particular temptation is. Sexual sins are in a league by themselves. It wouldn’t make sense to have a special Mass filled with men and women who struggle with sex addiction or infidelity either. These people need exposure to normalcy in order to overcome their problem and separate Masses won’t give them that.

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  20. StWinefride says:

    Muv says: “When I was a tiddler at primary school I remember being told that transubstantiation does not occur if God does not will it, for example if the priest has celebrated Mass irreverently. Am I right? Was the teacher right? Am I remembering right? Seems perfectly logical that God should opt out of a charade, in which case they weren’t Masses at all.

    I believe this is wrong for two reasons: 1) God gave man free will and would not intervene in this way. 2) as long as the words of consecration (the form) have been pronounced over the bread and the wine and the priest intends to do what the Church does then Transubstantiation has occurred. Validity of the sacraments does not depend on the sanctity of the priest either.

    That “ugly geezer in the black wig, frock and bra” is a lost sheep, your brother in Christ and is in need of compassion and our prayers.

    In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need to repent”. Luke 15:7

    I apologise if that sounds sanctimonious, but we’re all in this together.

  21. Fr-Bill says:

    Sophistry is the art of changing a fundamental thought in an argument or position. For all of history homosexual behavior has been simply a behavior. People who are addicted to such behavior have convinced the rest of us that such behavior is a matter of being, rather than a behavior. Now we have “gays” who are are still people who are addicted to homosexual behavior.

    Addictions are difficult, but Alcoholics Anonymous has many of the answers. Firstly in AA: one must acknowledge that the addiction has taken over his life and he realizes he must seek help in order to leave the addiction behind. Thus, a Mass for AA members would make sense.

    The “gay” agenda prohibits such healthy thinking.

  22. Muv says:

    Hello St. Winefride,

    I’m looking forward to a proper essay , perhaps from Fr.Z, on the Church’s teaching on when transubstantiation might or might not occur. Even if the priest intends that it should occur, and he correctly utters the words of consecration, yet at the same time he defies the Church’s teachings and intends to administer communion to members of the congregation whom he knows are in all probability in a state of mortal sin, then perhaps God in his mercy to the congregation will prevent transubstantiation from occurring. Only God knows the answer to that one.

    I’m glad you acknowledge that you sound sanctimonious. Blokes dressing as women is a profound insult to women. Praying to the Good Shepherd for lost sheep is one thing, but the lost sheep need rounding up. Transvestites need to be told that they look ugly, vile and ridiculous, and telling them so is all part of rounding them up.

  23. Muv says: I’m looking forward to a proper essay , perhaps from Fr.Z, on the Church’s teaching on when transubstantiation might or might not occur. Even if the priest intends that it should occur, and he correctly utters the words of consecration, yet at the same time he defies the Church’s teachings and intends to administer communion to members of the congregation whom he knows are in all probability in a state of mortal sin, then perhaps God in his mercy to the congregation will prevent transubstantiation from occurring. Only God knows the answer to that one.

    Wrong. The Acceptable Sacrifice does not cease to be acceptable because of the unworthiness of the priest. Transubstantiation occurs as long as the proper form and matter are present, and the priest intends to confect the Sacrament. This is true mercy from God: to spare His faithful having to worry about the state of the priest’s soul, and whether they are really receiving the Eucharist; and to prevent those who are properly disposed from being deprived of graces for which they have striven, namely, the graces of sacramental Communion. A priest in rebellion is in trouble with God, and he compounds his guilt by offering Mass in a state of mortal sin, but that is between him and God, and has no effect on the validity of the Mass. And thank God for it.

  24. Muv says:

    Hello Miss Moore,

    And what if the priest and entire congregation are there in a spirit of rebellion and defiance, and there is not a single soul there who is properly disposed to receive communion?

  25. Muv says: And what if the priest and entire congregation are there in a spirit of rebellion and defiance, and there is not a single soul there who is properly disposed to receive communion

    The Mass is still valid. The Mass does not depend for its validity on the purity of soul of the priest or the congregation. The Mass is identical with Calvary. The real Priest at Mass is Christ: what takes place at Mass is done by Christ, through the priest. We do not need to worry– nor do we want to have to worry — about the priest’s state of soul; still less do we want to have to worry about the state of soul of the congregation. What you were told as a kid about transubstantiation is a lie. Do the research: you will not find a single doctrine of the Church to support it. You cannot have a proper understanding of what the Mass is, or what the priesthood is, or what the Eucharist is, as long as you believe it.

  26. By the way, the idea that sacraments administered by wicked clergy comes from the heresies of the Donatists, which were condemned in the 4th century.

  27. Correction: the idea that sacraments administered by wicked clergy are invalid comes from the heresies of the Donatists, etc.

  28. StWinefride says:

    @Muv: you say: And what if the priest and entire congregation are there in a spirit of rebellion and defiance, and there is not a single soul there who is properly disposed to receive communion?

    This from the Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1128

    “…the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: “by the very fact of the action being performed”), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that “the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God.” From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them (ex opere operantis).

    Sacraments are said to be efficacious, because it is Christ Himself who is at work.

    CCC #1131:
    The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions”.