Overlooked: ‘LGBT Masses’ return to Britain

Cardinal Nichols (CNS)

What happened?
Masses for the LGBT community have returned to Britain, almost seven years after Archbishop Vincent Nichols ended them in Westminster diocese. LifeSite reports that the Dioceses of Westminster, Salford, Clifton, Nottingham, Northampton and Middlesbrough are holding Masses for LGBT groups, with the approval of the respective bishops.

Why was it overlooked?
The change has happened gradually and piecemeal, with no official announcement from any group of bishops declaring a new policy. But there has clearly been a shift since 2012, when Archbishop Nichols (who has since been made a cardinal) said that, while it was important to give pastoral care to “people with same-sex attraction”, the Mass was a “universal” event and so it should not be restricted to a particular group. He also implied that Catholic sexual teaching was at odds with the beliefs of some LGBT activists.

What will happen next?
In that 2012 statement, Archbishop Nichols said that Catholic sexual morality was “God-given”: “No individual, bishop, priest or lay-person, is in a position to change this teaching.” But while the teaching may not change, bishops may become more willing to turn a blind eye to it. Quest, a group heavily involved with the new wave of Masses, criticises the Church’s teaching, but this has not put bishops off working with it. The question is whether this approach will backfire, sparking lay-led resistance to episcopal policy.