London Catholics celebrate 10 years of gay-affirming Masses

By agency reporter
29 Apr 2009

Just two days after the bombing of the Admiral Duncan public house in Soho, 30 April 1999, London's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) Catholics, with their parents, families and friends, gathered in a convent chapel in Camden Town. The first Mass welcoming LGBT Catholics took place on Sunday, 2 May 1999.

First sponsored by the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement, the Masses have gone from strength to strength, reaching around 300 people.

Now independant of any other organisation, the Masses are organised by the Soho Masses Pastoral Council (SMPC) as an officially recognised pastoral ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Westminster.

They take place at 17.00 pm, on 1st & 3rd Sundays at the historic 18th century Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St. Gregory, Warwick Street, Soho W1B 5NB.

The 10th Anniversary Mass takes place on Sunday, 3 May, 17.00 pm, at the Warwick Street Church, with Canon Pat Browne, Catholic Dean for the City of Westminster presiding.

After the Mass, there will be a cutting of a specially made rainbow-coloured cake.

This lively community also includes a younger adults group and enables all who take part in the Masses various ways to grow in their faith and integrate this with their sexual orientation.

The 1st and 3rd Sunday celebrations offer a model of the kind of inclusive, welcoming community the Church aims to be.

"This is no holy-huddle or gay ghetto! We aim to be the kind of community pictured in the Church's earliest history, truly Catholic and universal, in welcoming a great richness of God's rainbow people where people of all sorts of background are welcomed. The difference is that our LGBT reality is recognised and named" the SMPC's Chairperson, Joe Stanley said.

Although predominantly LGBT, straight friends, parents, and other members of Warwick Street's congregation regularly take part.

The Masses are well known for the quality of their music, ranging from ancient Latin compositions to more contemporary forms. The Soho Masses boasts a 15-strong classical Schola and a wind & string instrumental Consort. A diverse rota of priests, including well-known theologians and writers from a variety of religious orders and dioceses, minister to this community.

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