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Last mass for Soho's gay Catholics


A mass for gay Catholics has been held for the last time in Soho, the capital's gay village.

The masses have been held in the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and Saint Gregory on Warwick Street for the past six years.

However, Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, has ruled that the masses can no longer be held at the Church.

In a statement the Archbishop said: "The moral teaching of the church is that the proper use of our sexual faculty is within a marriage, between a man and a woman open to the procreation and nurturing of new human life.

"As I stated in March 2012, this means that 'many types of sexual activity, including same-sex sexual activity, are not consistent with the teaching of the church'."

The Archbishop had previously defended the masses, arguing that it gave LGBT Catholics the opportunity to define themselves by their religion, rather than by their sexuality.

His apparent U turn comes in the wake of the controversy over same-sex marriage, of which he is a vigorous opponent. It is also thought that he has come under pressure from the Vatican to ban the services.

Joe Stanley, the chair of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council, told the BBC: "Because a lot of LGBT people find a lot of difficulty in being open and honest in Church, what we offer here is the ability, twice a month, to come and stand openly and honestly and directly before God."

Monsignor Seamus O'Boyle, the parish priest of Soho Mass, told the BBC: "To be able to reach out in love which, I think, is what we have done, for me has been personally quite gratifying.

"To see this community grow, which it has, and to feel that they could come to church and be part of the church has been something quite marvellous, but it's not construed that way by everyone else."

The congregation has now been encouraged to attend masses at the Jesuit church at Farm Street in Mayfair.

 

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