On Sunday evening 13th March, Brentwood Cathedral (one of three serving greater London), hosted a Mass featuring a particular welcome to members of the LGBT community and their families. This is a copy of the Mass card for the occasion ( note the use of the term “LGBT” in the closing sentence!)
Predictably enough, this has drawn squawks of anger from the usual suspects, including pitifully ignorant commentary from a blog called “Faith in Our Families”, who asks about this Mass, “The Gay Mass – Inclusive, or Liturgical Apartheid?”
The question would have been entirely unnecessary, if she’d only done a little research (for instance, on the diocesan website), where it is made absolutely clear that this was emphatically NOT an example of “liturgical apartheid”. It was never intended nor presented as a “gay” or “LGBT” Mass. It was designed very specifically purely as a Mass, where as part of the Year of Mercy, LGBT people and their families could be assured of welcome – along with everybody else. Also, it was not an isolated, special event singling out LGBT people: it’s part of a series, with one Mass a month creating a special welcome for a whole range of groups of people who for one reason or another feel estranged from the Church. (Other examples include Masses with a particular welcome for for members of the traveller community; for those are separated, divorced, remarried or who are experiencing difficulties in their marriage; for refugees; for those trapped by any destructive addiction or dependency; for those who are either unemployed or have been made redundant and are struggling to find work and make ends meet; for single parents and their families – and more.
This is pretty much along the same lines as the existing Mass twice a month at Westminster Cathedral, where LGBT people and their families are welcomed along with the rest of the parish community, and where they are fully integrated into all parish activities. In other words, this is very much an inclusive approach. and one which Cardinal Nichols has said deserves to be repeated elsewhere across England and Wales.
The main difference with the Brentwood initiative, is that this is just a one-off. I hope though, that in time. it can be repeated, and expanded – and also replicated elsewhere.