BY CHRISTINA FARRELL
LONDON’S GAY Catholics will celebrate their regular fortnightly Mass in a Catholic parish church for the first time next month.
The Mass for the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, usually held at St Anne’s Anglican Church in Soho, will be held in the French Church near Leicester Square on February 1. Organisers said St Anne’s was not available on that date.
A Westminster diocese spokesman said the Mass had the full backing of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.
Martin Prendergast, spokesman for the movement, said the group was grateful for the hospitality shown by the Catholic Church. Difficulty in finding a venue could have meant the cancellation of the Mass which usually attracts up to 60 people.
Mr Prendergast said that cancellation would have deprived the congregation “pastorally and sacramentally”.
He said: “This is a further positive example of the Archdiocese of Westminster wishing to take seriously the pastoral needs of lesbian and gay Catholics, something we would hope to build upon.” The Masses were inaugurated five years ago in a Catholic convent before moving to the regular venue at St Anne’s. Since September 2003 the Mass has been celebrated on a fortnightly basis to cope with the large numbers of people wishing to attend. The Mass is open to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, together with families and friends.
The movement defends practising homosexual relationships as “entirely compatible within the Christian faith”.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is understood to have received complaints that Catholic priests have participated in the fortnightly Masses. Arota of priests from the dioceses of Westminster, Southwark, Brentwood, Portsmouth and Clifton take it in turns to officiate at the Masses.
Aspokesman for the Cardinal said the Church in England was simply following the directive, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that there should be proper pastoral provision for all sections of the Catholic community.
“This is what the diocese wants to provide,” the spokesman said.