Hilary White

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Archdiocese cancels gay-friendly Masses: homosexual group moved to Jesuit parish

Hilary White
Hilary White

LONDON, January 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a surprising reversal of six years of policy, the Archbishop of Westminster has rescinded permission for a group of homosexual activists to hold specially dedicated Masses at which the homosexual lifestyle was promoted as morally acceptable for Catholics.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols issued a letter today saying that “after six years of the pastoral care,” the notorious Soho Masses will no longer be offered at Our Lady of the Assumption church in central London.

“It is time for a new phase,” Nichols wrote.

One of the leaders of the group that organizes the Masses has responded saying the group is unruffled by the announcement and that they will simply be moving on to a larger and more useful facility for their purposes.

Nevertheless, the announcement of the end of the Soho masses came as a surprise. As recently as February last year, while under growing pressure from Catholics who maintain that the event constitutes a formal scandal, Nichols had reiterated his determination that they would continue. He said at the time, however, that officials were giving “consideration” to whether the Masses were fulfilling the purpose for which they had been established.

In his letter Nichols wrote that the Soho Masses community is invited to “focus their efforts” on receiving “pastoral care” at the Jesuit parish of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday evenings. This care, he said, “is to be conducted fully in accordance with the teaching of the Church.”

“Such pastoral care,” Nichols wrote, “will include support for growth in virtue and holiness, the encouragement of friendship and wider community contacts, always with the aim of helping people to take a full part in the life of the Church in their local parish community. It will not include the organisation of a regular Mass.”

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The church that had formerly been used by the Soho Masses is slated to be given over to the work of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the group formed to answer Pope Benedict’s invitation to Anglicans to come into the Catholic Church while retaining their liturgical traditions.

The group behind the Soho Masses as well as the archdiocese have come under heavy criticism from many Catholics who have compiled written and electronic evidence that the Masses were being used by homosexualist activists to promote their “lifestyle” as normal within the Catholic Church.

A small group of core activists have long campaigned to put an end to the masses, but until now their efforts had yielded little result, either in the UK or in Rome. In his letter, Nichols made no mention of the controversy over the Masses. 

But despite Nichols’ letter, the Soho Mass organizers themselves appear unfazed. Terrence Weldon, a founding member of the Soho Masses organizing team, wrote today on his blog “Queering the Church,” that the Soho Mass “congregation is emphatically not being ‘shut down,’ as the opponents will claim, but simply being relocated.”

He described the move as merely “the next phase of our evolution”. Weldon wrote that the “key” issue is the group’s identity as a “congregation.” In the various discussions the group had about changes, “it was observed that as long as we retained our congregation, we would continue to flourish. So it proved, and flourish we have.”

Despite the public insistence of the Archdiocese of Westminster to the contrary, the group itself has been quite frank about the nature of their identity and purpose. The Soho Masses Pastoral Council (SMPC) published openly on their website their intention to promote of the goals of the homosexualist movement.

Weldon wrote that the approval of the group by the archdiocese, as well as their relocation to a Catholic parish, significantly furthered the group’s goals and expansion. Until the move into Our Lady of the Assumption, the congregations at the Masses, which had been carried on with quiet diocesan approval, were “overwhelmingly of older, White men.”

“Since the move, the transformation has been astonishing. Numbers have doubled, and the degree of active participation has simultaneously increased. We are now far more diverse in age, ethnicity and gender balance, and offer far, far more than just two Masses a month, with a steadily expanding range of support groups and activities, social and spiritual, outside of the Masses themselves.”

The new move to the Jesuit parish, he wrote, could greatly facilitate their efforts by providing more space for meetings and social events.

“I am increasingly convinced that one of the major challenges facing the LGBT Catholic community, is that of achieving visibility in the wider Church, and engaging openly and honestly with others,” Weldon said. “If we can make a success of developing a new model at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, we should find that although the ‘Soho Masses’ may end – Catholic LGBT ministry will be strengthened, and expanded.”

Despite the group’s history of close collaboration with archdiocesan officials, Weldon responded to an email from LSN today saying that he was not aware of any “negotiations” between the SMPC and the archdiocese over the move to the Jesuits.

“This decision was taken by Archbishop Nichols personally, without any consultation with us. The only negotiations that occurred, were with the Society of Jesus,” he said.

A commenter on his website, however, identified only as “Martin,” said, “A degree of confidential consultation around this took place over the past month.” One of the group’s more prominent organizers is Martin Pendergast, a former priest currently living in a civil partnership with another man. Weldon responded, “A very limited degree of ‘consultation,’ Martin – I’m not sure that I would dignify it with that word (it certainly did not amount to anything like negotiation). But there was certainly a small degree of very discreet communication.”

Asked publicly on his website whether he anticipated that the Jesuits would be offering Masses for the group, Weldon wrote, “We know from Archbishop Nichol’s statement that we will, from the beginning of Lent, be worshiping at the 6:15 Mass at Farm Street – which, as can be seen at their website, is an existing feature of their regular Sunday Mass program. It is clear therefore, that we will be worshiping as part of a larger parish community – who, I am convinced, will give us a warm and valued welcome.”


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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