The Gay Mass – Inclusive, or Liturgical Apartheid?


From the Brentwood Cathedral Facebook Page.

Brentwood Cathedral in Essex, UK is due to hold a Mass on March 13th 2016 specifically for gay, lesbian and transgender people and their families. The event has been billed as an outreach to the gay community as part of the year of mercy. But I am wondering if this really is the right approach?

I suppose if we are promoting the un-holy trinity of diversity, inclusion and equality, then the week after this they should really be singling out another group of sinners to invite to their own special mass. Will next week’s mass be specifically for thieves and their families? Liars and their families? Or those who have a problem with masturbation, and their families?! (I wonder what sort of a turnout you would get at that mass?! – not many I bet!)

The point I am trying to make is that sin is something we should naturally feel a healthy sense of shame for. This is why Confession is confidential. This Mass on the 13th is almost being presented like being affected by homosexuality is something to be celebrated – or at least normalised. And while I am a firm believer in accepting the sinner, not the sin, I do feel here that the emphasis of the whole day is way off the mark.

I spoke to my chaste catholic gay friend about this and asked his opinion:

“No. It’s wrong. It’s stupid. It’s like a voluntary liturgical apartheid.” He said. “I went to one of the gay masses one time when I lived in Chicago. The pews were 90% male. They took the kiss of peace literally: Partners kissed each other, on the lips, in front of the Blessed Sacrament on the altar. The homily? You’d never know you were at mass; The priest made no attempt to weave the readings or Gospel into a message specific to that particular flock. There were no calls to heroic sainthood amidst a decadent culture, etc. It was “just another mass.” Everyone (except me) went up for Communion.”

He went on to describe the culture that had sprung up around the so called ‘gay mass’:

“After that mass, many of the guys go to a local gay bar for ‘Show Tunes Night’ to get drunk, lust after other men, and try to hook-up. Right after mass. I’m still ‘friends’ with guys on Facebook who post about this. ‘Fabulous mass! Time for a martini bitches!’ So, yeah. I’m not a fan of the ‘gay masses’. You genuflect to the Church; the Church does NOT genuflect to you.”

I think his last sentence makes a really important point. Is it really the correct attitude of the church to bend over backwards to accommodate a particular group of sinners and make them feel special and elite? Is that really the way to a true conversion of heart? It seems to me that there is real danger in this approach as it could lead the sinner to believe that not just he is accepted by the church, but his lifestyle is accepted by the church. This eliminates the need for repentance and forgiveness. Is this mercy?

I can sort of understand the mind-set behind just getting them through the door, but it kinds seems like they are being invited there under false pretences. And I understand the one step at a time mentality, but one has to be extremely careful this doesn’t slip into the ugly guise of the dreaded Gradualism.

Should we reach out with mercy AND truth to those who have SSA? Absolutely. Should we create a ghetto for them? No. The church has never turned away repentant sinners, never. And it never will. I am worried that this gay mass, rather than leading people to repentance and forgiveness, is instead leading people to believe that the Year of Mercy is all about saying that certain sins are no longer sinful. In essence it is leading people to believe that the Year of Mercy is all about letting people off the hook.

My gay friend went on to tell me:

“A priest here who hosts a 1-hour call-in radio show makes the comparison: If we’re in the woods, and I see a bear come up behind you, BUT I don’t say anything to you, because I don’t want to upset or offend you, then the bear attacks you and you DIE, I am NOT being ‘merciful’! ”

I asked my friend what his approach would be instead?

“There IS an apostolate in the Church called Courage for homosexual men & women. There’s a branch here in Chicago, and their website shows 2 in London:  I did not hear about Courage at the gay mass I attended in Chicago; I heard about it from a priest, in the confessional, at a parish that shines as a model of fidelity & obedience and doesn’t pander to the culture. Thanks be to God if your diocese offers that “gay mass” for the conversion of sinners, if they preach: “YOU are not a bad person, but your ACTIONS are evil, and God will grant you mercy IF you repent and sin no more,” but how often do we hear that?”

It seems pretty obvious to me. We are all sinners right? So why do the organisers of the Brentwood mass on the 13th seem to be promoting it as a celebration? My friend had an opinion on this also:

“I would probably say, it’s homosexuals or sodomite allies INSIDE the Church behind this, trying to subvert the faith from within, lasso-in their compatriots with a special mass, again, segregating them as ‘special’ and ‘elite’.”

I guess this though was in the back of all our minds right? I hope to God he is wrong on this, but as far as I can see it comes down to 1 of 2 possibilities:

Either the organisers of this mass are incredibly naïve in their approach to getting sinners to repent, or they have no intention of inviting them to repent and are instead treating the day as a celebration of “love” in all its forms.

Lord have mercy.


44 thoughts on “The Gay Mass – Inclusive, or Liturgical Apartheid?

  1. Wonderful! I think this is certainly a starting point towards inclusivity. It will, I would hope, help to show everyone in the wider church that we are all loved by God, regardless of our orientation.

    • Do you think it will help people with SSA in the pursuit of a chaste life? Or will it give them the impression that being in an active gay relationship is acceptable?

      • That rather depends on what you mean by a “chaste life”. The whole issue, if you look at the whole of Catholic teaching and not just isolated lines from the Catechism, is in fact much more complex and subtle that you seem to assume.

      • Chastity means to love one another in complete accordance with God’s law. It is in fact to love each other as God loves us. In relation to sexual relationships this would mean that (straight or gay) one would abstain from sexual contact outside of God’s plan for marriage and family life.

      • Why do you suppose that the purpose of any Mass should be to help people “in the pursuit of a more chaste life”? Surely, the first concern should be to help them to develop a deeper relationship with God?

        Besides, “chastity” is only one part of Catholic teaching on sexuality. The Catechism also states that each of us, male and female (and, for that matter. gay or straight). should accept our sexual identity. It also asserts that sexuality is an important part of our human make-up, which we should integrate into our personality. Welcoming LGBT people at Mass, along with everybody else, can certainly help us in the pursuit of that part of Catholic teaching.

    • “we are all loved by God, regardless of our orientation.” Pedophiles claim they are oriented to being attracted to children should this celebrated

    • Your commentary on this is laughable in its ignorance. It certainly is not an example of “liturgical apartheid”.This was never presented as a “gay” or “LGBT” Mass. It was designed very specifically purely as one Mass, where as part of the Year of Mercy, LGBT people and there families can be assured of welcome – along with everybody else. Also, it’s 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.

      Already there have been special Masses with a particular welcome for members of the traveller community, for those are separated, divorced, remarried or who are experiencing difficulties in their marriage, and for refugees. Still to come are Masses for doctors, nurses, carers and those who minister the medicine of mercy to the sick; 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 small step towards greater inclusion should be welcomed – and to brand this, as you imply, as a Mass to welcome “sinners” is extremely offensive. There is nothing at all in Catholic teaching, neither in the Catechism nor in any of the CDF documents, to suggest that gay or lesbian people are necessarily sinners – except to the degree that we all are sinners in one way or another.

      And may I remind you that in terms of the Gospel admonition to remove the beam from one’s own eye before criticizing a speck in your neighbour’s, that self-righteously passing moral judgement on a group of which you disapprove, might also be regarded as sinful?

    • Agreed, Simon – wonderful indeed. 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.

  2. God does love everyone. Why is that so hard for people to understand? God loves and accepts every single blessing he creates. He gives some blessings more trials to live with than others. Acceptance of God’s will is the key here, not the other way around.
    Well put.

    • What is hard to understand that the Church celebrates sodomy a mortal sin, thats what it is. ..What needs to happen is complete and total schism between the gay/liberal/modernists and the traditional Church. Lets just go our different ways, you fools can go celebrate your sins and pretend you are good Catholics. And we will keep the Faith

      • No one said that the Church celebrated the ACTS of sodomy, bisexuality, or any other deviant act. You need to separate the act from the person. As Clare stated, very clearly, you can abhor the sin, but as disciples of Christ, you must love the sinner.
        I am not in any way, shape, or form in favor of having a special celebratory mass for one group of people. CATHOLIC, in and of itself, means universal. We are One Church…and we need to follow the doctrine laid out my God, our Holy Father, in the first place. No one can change God’s laws. And, you should not be in favor of schism. We must not yield to children, and their tantrums. Yet, you speak with vile, and not with love.

  3. There are three different and to some extent overlapping views of SSA held by bishops and priests, which is why we see so much inconsistency in the way the condition is addressed:

    1. The traditional view (intrinsically disordered, a form of concupiscence resulting ultimately from the fall of man, SSA acts cry out to heaven for vengeance and cannot be condoned under any circumstances).
    2. The therapeutic view (SSA is akin to an illness: morally neutral in the same way as tonsillitis, people with SSA should be integrated and treated indulgently, doctrine is harshly framed and more lenient pastoral approaches are needed).
    3. The celebratory view (SSA is an authentic form of human loving actually willed by God and wrongly stigmatised by the Church, doctrine needs to change).

    Dioceses which have gay Masses hover between (2) and (3). Several senior voices at the recent Synod on the Family were pushing for view (3). As an example of overlap in action, I believe that Pope Francis adheres to (1) but favours pastoral approaches that are akin to (2). The confusion will persist until legal persecution in the West forces a future Pope to restate the traditional doctrine. The sky will fall in on the Church, but we will not ultimately abandon our true doctrine.

  4. Parishes reach out to fallen away Catholics, divorced Catholics, the incarcerated, the lonely, the rich, the devout and the judgmental. What they are trying to say is “You are loved by God – come pray with us.” So everyone here, please consider going and praying with and for them and for all of us.

  5. Quite a few of the comments imply negative connotations towards the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgender community. This is surely not the message of the Church to which I converted 35 years ago?
    Bigotry has no place in God’s message of love, peace and caring for one another.

      • No I don’t but there have been a few other, shall we say,, less than charitable comments. I would, however, say that I was surprised by the comment of the gay man.

      • Do you mean open as in accepting homosexual acts as no longer sinful?

      • Thank you for your honesty. The problem here is that the church teaches that homosexual acts ARE sinful. It comes down to whether you stand with the church on this or against it. No-one is forcing you to agree with the church, but at the same time we must accept the fact that we do not have the authority to change doctrine because we don’t agree with it. In our relationship with God, He is in charge – not us. Sex issues are the most difficult to come to terms with because it cuts through to the core of who we are. It is not easy to accept God’s will in our lives.

        On 6 March 2016 at 19:31, Faith in our Families wrote:


      • It may be that I belong to that part of British society that has been exposed to more freedom of thought than others and that I believe that people are entitled to act as they wish, providing they cause no harm to others.

      • Which part of British society is that?! On 6 Mar 2016 20:59, “Faith in our Families” wrote:


      • The vast part of Society that believes that it is unacceptable to discriminate against and demonise people for their sexual orientation.

      • The Catholic Church also believes it is unacceptable to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. But it cannot condone sinful acts. On 7 Mar 2016 18:04, “Faith in our Families” wrote:


      • You have just hit the nail on the head! I and a large number of people do not believe that it is a sinful act.

      • Out of interest, how do you reconcile that with the fact that the church says it is sinful?

      • Ok let me ask you a slightly different question… In your relationship with God, who’s the boss? On 7 Mar 2016 22:48, “Faith in our Families” wrote:


      • God, of course. However, I don’t believe that He has ever called me to discriminate against my brothers and sisters for being who they are and behaving in a way which nature created them.

      • God has said that homosexual acts are sinful in the Bible and through His church. This doesn’t mean the people are evil, just the act itself. Keeping God’s laws is not easy. But Christ tells ALL of us “Take up your cross and follow Me.” This is a massive cross, I know, but it is worth it. God must be in the first place (boss) in every aspect of our lives – including sex and marriage. He designed sex, not us. On 7 Mar 2016 23:20, “Faith in our Families” wrote:


      • Times and attitudes have changed on this issue. I am of the opinion ‘live and let live’. We must, I think, have to agree to disagree on this matter.
        By the way, I am straight and have been married for over 20 years.

      • We can agree to disagree… As long as you admit that the church says that homosexual acts are sinful, and you are not in line with the church on this issue.

      • I have read it Clare. It is a pretty powerful story of how Our Lord can change people’s lives. Keep up the good work with your blog. It always makes good reading for me and, what is more, despite our interaction via the internet, it does make me think.
        God Bless,

  6. The man responsible for the ‘LGBT’ Mass is the Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Formation in the Diocese of Brentwood – Fr. Dominic Howarth. He seems to be spearheading the homosexual agenda in England and Wales amongst young people. Fr. Dominic is well known for his liturgical abuses and persecution of Catholics who are faithful to the magisterium, but also famously for inviting the homosexualist Fr. Timothy Radcliffe to the Bishops Conference of England and Wales Youth Agency (CYMFED) conference called Flame. At these two conferences in 2012 and 2015 Fr Radcliffe spoke to several thousand young people and seems to be very friendly with Fr. Dominic. Fr. Dominic has already hit back at the many Catholic parents who complained about Fr. Radcliffe’s presence as being homophobic and he is currently busy dismantling anything Catholic in the diocese related to Youth Ministry since being appointed Episcopal Vicar at the start of 2015. This Mass for ‘LGBT’ people included the dissident Quest Group and also Fr. Kieran Fitzsimons OFM, an active homosexual priest who ‘came out’ on BBC radio recently.

    See here for Fr Dominic’s homily:

    Priest comes out:

    I have spoken to so many Catholics up and down the country who are aghast at what Fr Dominic is doing to spread the homosexual agenda and destroy the Catholic faith of young people.

  7. Just over a week past the 1st ever GLBT PILGRIMAGE TO IRELAND landed at SHANNON AIRPORT led by the AMERICAN NUN – SISTER JEANNINE GRAMIICK. The pilgrimage was met on the tarmac at Shannon by a group of Irish priests, nuns and lay people who were waving the flags of Ireland, the Vatican and the United States. The pilgrimage had some of its Masses celebrated for them by the Irish Redemptorist Order at their ESKER GALWAY and CLONARD BELFAST monasteries. They also visited the SISTERS OF MERCY in Baggot Street in Dublin.One of their final Masses wias hosted by the Irish CARMELITE ORDER at their Dublin 4 monastery.

  8. A friend on mine who’s gay and a recovering alcoholic told me a gay AA clubhouse was having difficulty keeping its membership roles up. The reason? Gay recovering people were attending more mainline AA meetings more frequently. As people realize that bigotry is a mortal sin and some scholarship (like John Boswell’s) start recirculating, gay Catholic organizations will wane as well.

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