Soho Masses: Can We Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time?

There has been a huge public fuss this week about the supposed “closure” of the Soho Masses, which has kept me very much on the hop, in an attempt to present a more positive image (I think a more accurate one) that this is not just an end, but a new beginning, and one that has at least the potential to be productive, and possibly and expansion, of our present ministry.

But time has been short, and I’ve been anxious not to go publicly into the very real disadvantages and risks that this move could entail – or how we can best avert them. One risk that I have referred to in some emails to the SMPC core community, is that of finding ourselves simply co-opted to implement the Vatican agenda, and thereby corrupted in our personal integrity. I have also alluded to what I see as a crucial imperative to do some deep, creative thinking on exactly what we do with this new opportunity – and suggested that this include some significant implications for Quest.

This was no more than an allusion – I’ve simply not had time to cover everything that needs to be said in anything like the depth that was required, nor do I want all of my thinking to be on public display at Queering the Church, which is closely monitored by some conservative bloggers, determined to uncover and expose my heresies and demonic influences. But now is a time, and this a suitable place, to elaborate. Continue reading Soho Masses: Can We Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time?

London’s Archbishop Ends Masses in Soho for LGBT Catholics; Ministry Continues at Jesuit Parish

The popular Soho Masses for the LGBT community in London, England, will be coming to a close after six years because of a new pastoral plan for LGBT people that the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster has issued.  But the ministry to LGBT people will continue. The archbishop has moved the LGBT ministry to a London Jesuit parish, under a new model of service and organization.

London’s Catholic Herald has printed the entire text of the pastoral plan by Archbishop Vincent Nichols.  In the section on why he is ending this successful pastoral program, he states:

“At this point, and after six years of the pastoral care offered at Our Lady of the Assumption Church [Warwick Street], it is time for a new phase. Two considerations give shape to this new phase. The first is to recall that the original aim of this pastoral provision at Warwick Street was to enable people with same-sex attraction ‘to enter more fully into the life of the Church’ ‘specifically within the existing parish structures’ (Diocese of Westminster press statement 2 Feb 2007). The second is the importance of recognising that there is a distinction to be made between the pastoral care of a particular group and the regular celebration of the Mass. The Mass is always to retain its essential character as the highest prayer of the whole Church. This ‘universal’ character of the Mass is to be nurtured and clearly expressed in the manner of every celebration. The purpose of all pastoral care, on the other hand, is to encourage and enable people, especially those who are in difficult circumstances, to come to participate fully and worthily in the celebration of the Mass in the midst of the whole Church, the people summoned by the Lord to give him, together, worthy service and praise.

” . . . 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. This includes many of the activities which have recently been developed and it is to be conducted fully in accordance with the teaching of the Church. Such pastoral care will include support for growth in virtue and holiness, the encouragement of friendship and wider community contacts, always with the aim of helping people to take a full part in the life of the Church in their local parish community. It will not include the organisation of a regular Mass.”

The new pastoral program will begin in Lent of 2013.

For many years, Archbishop Nichols has been criticized by traditionalist Catholics for permitting the Masses.  Indeed, the Vatican has also questioned his reasoning for establishing the liturgies.  For some, his decision will surely be viewed as capitulating to these pressures.

However, England’s Terence Weldon, who blogs at “QueeringTheChurch“, and who is a regular participant at these Masses and a member of the Pastoral Council there, has a different point of view.  He is optimistic that this decision is not an ending, but a moment of transformation for the community.  He sees the archbishop’s plan as an opportunity for growth for the burgeoning community. On his blog, he wrote:

“The real issue here is not simply one of a ‘gay Mass,’ but of the wider issue of effective  Catholic LGBT ministry. For many years, the Soho Masses as we know them have provided a richly valuable to those people able and willing to make the journey to get to them – but does nothing for those who by reason of location or inclination, are not. One of the obvious problems with the existing model as we have it at Warwick Street, is that it is not one that can be simply transplanted to other areas, of the diocese or pf the country. If we can make a success of developing a new model at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, we should find that although the ‘Soho Masses’ may end – Catholic LGBT ministry will be strengthened, and expanded.”

The Soho Masses Pastoral Council issued a statement on January 3rd, welcoming  the archbishop’s directive. The following are excerpts:

“The purpose of the Soho Masses has been, and remains, to encourage the LGBT Catholic Community to participate fully in the life of the Church, the diverse body of Christ, through participation in the Mass, and through shared prayer.
In this we have become victims of our own success, in terms of the number of people who have joined the Eucharistic Community of our congregation. This means that, while the body of the church in Warwick St. is still adequate to our number, the lack of other facilities in the 18th Century building has become a limiting factor in organising social and pastoral activity and prayer, in particular for elderly, infirm or disabled people.

“We therefore look forward with much anticipation to the opportunity of using the greater space offered by the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and, since we have kindly been relieved of our responsibility of organising the Mass, to respond positively to the Archbishop’s challenge to develop our pastoral work in this ‘new phase’ of our peripatetic existence.

“The Masses at Farm Street will, clearly, continue to be at the heart of our life in communion, and of our pastoral activity, and we look forward to participating fully in them. . . .

“Our only reservation regarding the transfer of base is that our title becomes somewhat of a misnomer, in that we shall be in Mayfair, rather than in Soho. However, given the value of the title Soho Masses we shall continue to use it.”

attended the Soho Masses when I was in London in the summer of 2012 for the World Pride celebrations.  I found them the liturgy to be very traditionally Catholic, and I met many people afterwards who said that coming to this Mass community was their way of returning to Catholicism after a period of alienation.  Many of the participants were heterosexually identified people with no connection to the LGBT community, but who had heard that the spirit at these Masses was welcoming and rich. In one sense, all theological arguments aside, I imagine that this decision  will probably feel very much like a parish closing or consolidation to some.

Even if there are better days ahead, I am sure it will be a difficult transition for many, and I will keep them all in my prayers, and ask you to do the same.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

via  « Bondings 2.0.

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Mary Daly, "Radical Lesbian Feminist", Theologian

Radical feminist philosopher, academic, and Catholictheologian. Daly, who described herself as a “radical lesbian feminist”, taught at Boston College, a Jesuit-run institution, for 33 years. She retired in 1999, after violating university policy by refusing to allow male students in her advanced women’s studies classes. She allowed male students in her introductory class and privately tutored those who wanted to take advanced classes.

Women who are pirates in a phallocratic society are involved in a complex operation. First, it is necessary to plunder–that is, righteously rip off gems of knowledge that the patriarchs have stolen from us. Second, we must smuggle back to other women our plundered treasures. In order to invent strategies that will be big and bold enough for the next millennium, it is crucial that women share our experiences: the changes we have taken and the choices that have kept us alive. They are my pirate’s battle cry and wake-up call for women who want to hear.

As one of the most influential feminist thinkers and theologians of the second half of the twentieth century, Daly had a profound impact upon other feminist writers and scholars. As colleague Mary E. Hunt observed in announcing her death to the Women’s Alliance in Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) email list: “Her contributions to feminist theology, philosophy, and theory are many, unique, and if I may say so, world-changing. She created intellectual space; she set the bar high. Even those who disagreed with her are in her debt for the challenges she offered…She always advised women to throw our lives as far as they would go. I can say without fear of exaggeration that she lived that way herself.”

However, Hunt was also controversial in some feminist and LGBT circles. Audrey Lourde and some other Black feminists accused her of ignoring the contributions of feminists of colour, and she angered the community. In Gyn/Ecology, Daly asserted her negative view of transsexual people, writing, “Today the Frankenstein phenomenon is omnipresent . . . in . . . phallocratic technology. . . . Transsexualism is an example of male surgical siring which invades the female world with substitutes.”[24] “Transsexualism, which Janice Raymond has shown to be essentially a male problem, is an attempt to change males into females, whereas in fact no male can assume female chromosomes and life history/experience.”[25] “The surgeons and hormone therapists of the transsexual kingdom . . . can be said to produce feminine persons. They cannot produce women.”

Daly’s other published books are:

Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (Beacon, 1978);
Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy (Beacon, 1984);
Websters’ First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language (Beacon, 1987);
Outercourse: The Be-Dazzling Voyage Containing Reflections from My Logbook of a Radical Feminist Philosopher (Harper 1992);
Quintessence…Realizing the Archiac Future: A Radical Elemental Feminist Manifesto (Beacon, 1999); and
Amazon Grace: Re-Calling the Courage to Sin Big (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

 

 

Mary Daly and the Invitation to Explore Wild Ideas about Inclusivity: A Memorial Reflection

Catholics Cited as Top LGBT Faith Voices of 2012

While we are still in the season of looking back at 2012 while we jump right into 2013, we’d like to mention proudly that New Ways Ministry’s Co-founder Sister Jeannine Gramick was named as one of the top ten pro-LGBT faith voicesof 2012 by GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)!   Additionally, we are delighted that two other Catholics made the list: Barbara Johnson, the lesbian who was denied communion at her mother’s funeral; and Dominic Sheahan Stahl, the gay man who was disinvited as a commencement speaker from his high school alma mater.

Sister Jeannine Gramick

In naming Sister Jeannine, GLAAD stated:

“Nuns were a big deal in 2012, and the LGBT community had a great ally in Sister Jeannine Gramick. She was one of the most visible pro-LGBT Catholic voices as Maryland adopted marriage equality and through the ballot process. She spoke about Roman Catholic hierarchy to MSNBC, and created a video series on The Daily Beast to discuss faith and life, including LGBT issues.”

Barbara Johnson

Of Barbara Johnson, they said:

“While Barbara Johnson was grieving the loss of her mother, the presiding priest stated, “I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.” This blatant lack of pastoral care to an LGBT person captured the attention of the nation.GLAAD worked with Barbara to tell her story and to shine a light of the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s internal persecution of LGBT people.”

Dominic Sheahan Stahl.

GLAAD praised Dominc Sheahan Stahl:

“When Dominic Sheahan Stahl was uninvited from speaking at the Sacred Heart Academy graduation for being gay, the graduating class, which included his younger brother, rallied around him. They formed #LetDominicSpeak and worked with GLAAD to express their support for the alum. They formed an inclusive graduation event, in which the entire graduating class, as well as 600 people listened to Dominic give his speech, of which, GLAAD produced a video. Dominic has gone on to establish a “Live Through Love” foundation to raise scholarship money for LGBT students.”

To view the entire list, which includes luminary leaders from other denominations and faiths, click here.

Bondings 2.0 followed the work and activity of all three of these leaders in 2012.  To search for their stories, type in their names into the “Search” box in the right-hand column, and all the relevant posts about them will come up.

We are proud of our co-founder, Sister Jeannine, and of these two lay leaders!  We are grateful for all the work that the three of them have done to make our world and our church a more welcoming place for LGBT people and their families!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

via  « Bondings 2.0.