Monday 4 May 2015

Cardinal Nichols will celebrate “Soho Mass” on 10th May

Cardinal Nichols meets homosexual group QUEST, March 2015

The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Cardinal Nichols, is scheduled to celebrate Mass for “LGBT Catholics Westminster” at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street on the evening of Sunday 10th May.

The twice-monthly “LGBT Mass” at Farm Street is the continuation of the notorious “Soho Mass” that took place for many years at Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street.

Many Catholics, including myself, were hopeful that the move of the Mass to Farm Street indicated that the Archdiocese of Westminster might be prepared to take action against the open dissent that they have tolerated, indeed facilitated, for so many years.

It is now clear that the dissent continues.

I received an email last week from a tourist who, while visiting London, attended a Saturday evening vigil Mass at Farm Street. She was extremely distressed by what she experienced. I have her permission to share the email, with some personal details removed.

Dear Sir,

As a regular reader of your website, I would appreciate some guidance regarding my recent experience in a London church... As before when travelling in UK or abroad, I had previously googled the nearest RC church and mass times and I attended the Saturday evening vigil...

The gospel was about Doubting Thomas and in the homily afterwards the priest highlighted the message of mercy and forgiveness, and then talked about the forthcoming synod where there would be discussion of communion for the divorced and marriage in general, and referred to those of the ‘traditionalist view’ who would also be taking part in the discussion.  He went on to link the story of the day’s gospel to being not just about having faith but about having patience too, asking us to pray for the synod with patience so I began to wonder if this meant a prayer in favor of changes to marriage, which I felt uncomfortable with.


By the end of the mass I didn’t feel spiritually uplifted as I usually do and on leaving the church I introduced myself to the priest as a visitor from...  He warmly shook my hand to chat about where I was from and I then went on to ask him about the meaning of some of the things he referred to in the homily, asking him if he could please explain why John the Baptist and St Thomas More were killed. He replied they were martyred for defending the faith.  I asked him was it not really for defending marriage and he replied ‘that was only a part of it, not all of it’.  I responded that my understanding was defending marriage as laid down by our faith was the main reason they were martyred and he replied “you may well think that” and moved on ...

I have never felt such emptiness and sadness on leaving a church... The church I attended is The Immaculate Conception, Farm Street Mayfair, and on further checking online I now realise there is an LGBT group very much involved with this parish, with a letter on their website (LGBT Catholics Westminster) from Cardinal Nichols wishing their group a very successful Lent pilgrimage to Rome in the hope of meeting key Vatican officials to discuss the synod agenda.  I was very disappointed to read the newsletter on their website promoting LGBT issues while being linked to the parish in religious matters, and even highlighting several Soho ‘iconic’ LGBT clubs under threat of closure advising how to appeal to the town planning committee. 

I have always thought that everyone in church is already equal as in the hymn One Bread, One Body, without needing to know the individual views and sexual preferences of fellow worshippers. I am now left wondering that in future when travelling, in addition to checking the whereabouts of the local RC church and mass times, perhaps I should also be checking which sexual orientation the mass may be aimed at.  Having seen our government redefine marriage I am now very concerned that the church may follow suit and would appreciate some reassurance in this respect.  I would be very grateful for your advice...

In further correspondence she noted:

I am in no position to judge or criticise anyone and certainly have no objection to any LGBT person attending church and being involved in duties as any other individual parishioner, but I fail to see why special services need to be advertised for a specific group, especially one that contradicts church teaching if still practising.   I was very concerned to read the prayer on their website and also a transcript of a homily (entitled Integration of Sexuality and Spirituality dated 21.12.13) in which I found references to Our Lord and Our Lady quite disturbing.  I don't understand how a cardinal can support and encourage this.

Their April newsletter gives a good sense of what kind of an organisation "LGBT Catholics Westminster" is. For example, they are advertising a "Natural Law and Conscience Symposium" at which the notorious pro-abortion dissenter Tina Beattie will be speaking. They also advertise a meeting of "Soho & Westminster LGBT Community Forum", drawing attention to the fact that the meeting will be dealing with plans for the 2015 Pride march in London which includes a veritable cornucopia of events which flaunt images and thinking which are the enemy of Catholic teaching on human sexuality.

The newsletter is also used to promote other dissenting groups, such as ACTA and Fortunate Families, a group for "Catholic Parents of LGBT Children". Neither group makes any secret of its repudiation of Catholic doctrine. Fortunate Families, for example suggests a reading list full of heretical, harmful and blasphemous works, including a book which "presents seven models of the Queer Christ."

Like many good and faithful Catholics my correspondent is shocked that Cardinal Nichols’ would support a group that openly works against the teaching of the Church.

Unfortunately, having documented Cardinal Nichols’ words and actions relating to the teaching of the Church on homosexuality and homosexual unions over many years, I am not at all surprised to see him supporting "LGBT Catholics Westminster" in such a public way. He has already gone on record as being open to the radical agenda pursued at the Extraordinary Synod.

Troubling statements made by Cardinal Nichols on homosexuality and homosexual unions

On 2nd July 2010 Archbishop Nichols was interviewed by Stephen Sackur on BBC TV programme Hardtalk.

Stephen Sackur: The Church of England for example in this country is taking a rather different view. They believe there has to be some flexibility. The church has to be a reflection of society's values to a certain extent and therefore we see women priests, women vicars, and there's obviously in some parts of the Anglican Communion, women bishops.

Archbishop Nichols: Certainly.

Stephen Sackur: Some of their vicars are also prepared to sanction gay unions. That church is showing flexibility. Is the Catholic church not going to have to do the same eventually?

Archbishop Nichols: I don't know. Who knows what's down the road?

On 11th September 2010 Archbishop Nichols was interviewed by Neil Tweedie of The Telegraph and asked if the Church would “one day accept the reality of gay partnerships”. He replied:

“I don’t know. There is in the Book of Nature an inherent connection between human sexuality and procreation; and those two things cannot ultimately be totally separate. People who are of a homosexual orientation say: 'Well, hang on a minute. How is the Book of Nature written in me?' The most important thing the Christian tradition says is, don't see yourself simply as an isolated individual but as part of a wider family. The moral demands on all of us made by that tradition are difficult. That tradition says human sexuality is for an expression of total self-giving in fidelity in a way that is open to the creation of new life. Now, that's tough, that's a high ideal. I'm not sure many people have ever observed it in its totality, but it doesn't mean to say it has no sense.”

In July 2011 the dissenting “Catholic” homosexual lobby group QUEST held its annual conference at the Archdiocese of Westminster pastoral centre of All Saint’s at London Colney.

At the time the conference took place their website contained the following statements:

"homosexual sex is not an incomplete or less perfect expression of human sexuality..."

"the teaching of the Vatican incompatible with the Gospel"

"Quest, an association for lesbian and gay Catholics, welcomes in general the government's proposals to provide for legal recognition of same-sex partnerships."

On 20th September 2010 Archbishop Nichols was interviewed on the BBC by Huw Edwards for a programme reflecting on Pope Benedict's visit to Britain.

Other interviewees included Diarmaid MacCulloch, a homosexual Anglican and Oxford professor of church history, Tina Beattie, a “Catholic” academic and notorious dissenter and Lord Patten, who helped to organise the papal visit.

At 21 minutes 30 seconds into the programme, Huw Edwards to put it to Professor MacCulloch that Pope Benedict:

“clearly sees a country where there is a lot of growing hostility to faith communities. Is that the right reading?"

Professor MacCulloch replied:

“That is a code, and it’s a code for something quite specific. The code is: now Britain treats gay people as equal with heterosexual people, and gay partnerships are on the statute book, and the Catholic hierarchy hates that fact. You see them across the world as gay marriages are introduced in country after country...”

Archbishop Nichols intervened in a firm manner to tell Professor MacCulloch:

“That’s not true, in this country. In this country, we [the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales] were very nuanced. We did NOT oppose gay civil partnerships, we recognised that in English law there might be a case for those. We persistently said that these are not the same as marriage.”

Later (at 24mins50secs into the programme) Archbishop Nichols said:

“The times we [the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales] interfere most in British politics is on poverty and education. Of course the media are obsessed with certain issues [JS: referring to a previous reference by Dr Beattie to homosexuality] but if you want to know what it is we’re really passionate about, it’s about the fight against poverty and [about] the education of young people.”

Later (at 27mins30secs into the programme), Professor MacCulloch said:

“I’m pleased to hear what the archbishop has to say about sexual questions, and it has to be said that the English Catholic Church has rather taken its own line on this, not the Vatican’s line, there is always a certain independence in the English Catholic Church. It’s is good that that should be so.”

The interview did not contain any contradiction by Archbishop Nichols of Professor MacCulloch’s statement that the “English Catholic Church” took a different line to “the Vatican”.

On 26th November 2011 The Tablet attributed the following words to Archbishop Nichols in an article entitled Archbishop Praises Civil Partnerships:

“We would want to emphasize that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision,” the archbishop said. “As a Church we are very committed to the notion of equality so that people are treated the same across all the activities of life.”

On 2nd December 2011 the Catholic News Agency published the following:

When Archbishop Nichols was asked by CNA if the bishops of England were contradicting the Vatican’s guidelines, he said that the bishops have tried “to recognize the reality of the legal provision in our country of an agreement, a partnership, with many of the same legal safeguards as in marriage.” He further explained that while the bishops recognize the existence of civil partnerships, they also “believe that that is sufficient,” and that they should not be placed on par with marriage.


“Clearly, respect must be shown to those who in the situation in England use a civil partnership to bring stability to a relationship,” the archbishop said, qualifying that while “equality is very important and there should be no unjust discrimination,” that “commitment plus equality do not equal marriage.”

Also December 2011, in an interview given to the BBC Today programme, Archbishop Nichols said:

“When it comes to understanding what human sexuality is for, there is a lot that we have to explore. Because I think what is at one level in the broad perspective clear, is that there is an intrinsic link between procreation and human sexuality. Now how do we start from that principle, not lose it, and have an open, ongoing conversation with those who say, well, that’s not my experience?
“How do we bring together some principles that if you like are written into the broad book of nature, and individual experiences? That’s the area that we have to be sensitive and open to, and genuinely wanting to explore."

23rd March 2015 - Archbishop Nichols met with leadership of dissenting lobby group QUEST, who then issued the following statement:

Quest Chair Ruby Almeida and Deputy Chair Nick Burchnall met with Cardinal Vincent Nichols at Archbishop’s House on Friday 20th March 2015. This was a planned return visit with His Eminence to discuss, amongst other things, the Icon Of Emmaus which was presented at the Quest Conference in Scarborough in July 2014. The meeting was very cordial and filled with much that was positive and constructive. This we hope, paves the way for Quest to have closer ties with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church of England and Wales, and something that our membership has been wanting for some time now.

"Marriage Care"

Cardinal Nichols is President of Marriage Care, an organisation which provides counselling services to same-sex couples. The Tablet reported, on 15th September 2011, that the Chief Executive of Marriage Care, Terry Prendergast, had said of same-sex couples; "We have offered them focused marriage preparation - private, and not in a group. This is about two people in love and one of our main aims is to support loving partnerships."

In a document on their website Marriage Care explain:

"Today, Marriage Care sees itself as a service provider of relationship education and support to all sections of the community, delivered from within a Christian ethos, developed from the organisation’s Catholic roots. We understand this Christian ethos to mean in practice that we are open to all, acknowledging the value and uniqueness of every human being regardless of gender, age, race, creed or sexual orientation.


"So, for Marriage Care, the Christian ethos is not made up of a set of doctrines but rather is an exhortation to the members of the charity to be visible by their inclusive and loving behaviour of the other by providing a rich variety of services across the whole community." 

The document continues:

"Does the Church community understand the real tension for Marriage Care arising from the necessary divergence of message in the delivery of marriage preparation and counselling (arising, as noted above, from different service user identities and priorities)? 

"How does Marriage Care remain in a dialogue with the hierarchy so that our specialist and particular insight and expertise might contribute to our joint learning? 

"In particular, there is a need to explore further:

- What we all think we are trying to achieve through our marriage preparation programmes.

- How we develop a language for our service provision which is understandable for our different service users.

- How we clarify what the “teaching of the church” means in the context of our messy lives." 

Comments on this blog? Email them to
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy