BOSTON, June 14, 2011 ( – A Catholic parish and its pastor strongly allied with the gay rights movement in Boston have expressed frustration and defiance after their archdiocese put the kibosh on a much-anticipated “gay-friendly” Mass.

Rev. John J. Unni, pastor of St. Cecilia’s Church in the Back Bay, lashed out in Sunday’s sermon against Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s decision to forbid a Mass Unni had planned for next weekend to celebrate the homosexual community.

“You are welcome here, gay or straight, rich or poor, young or old, black or white,’’ said Unni as he paced the center aisle, according to the Boston Globe. “Here, you all can say, ‘I can worship the God who made me as I am.’ ’’

The sermon received a standing ovation from the parish, whose members are heavily involved in its “Rainbow Ministry” for homosexuals. More than 200 parishioners wore buttons with a cross, a rainbow, and the words “All Are Welcome,” the Globe reports.

The mass, advertised with the theme “All Are Welcome,” was intended to “celebrate the diverse community” at the parish and timed to coincide with Boston’s Gay Pride month.

The archdiocese says the planned liturgy ran the risk of sending the wrong message about Church teaching. “The wording and placement of a bulletin notice announcing that the St. Cecilia Rainbow Ministry will be joining the parish at a Mass on June 19 may have given the unintended impression that the Mass is in support of Gay Pride Week; it is not,’’ said archdiocesan spokesman Terrence Donilon.

Gay activists raged against the decision, including Dignity USA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke, who called the decision “horrible” and encouraged Catholics to perform the Mass elsewhere in protest. Also among the critics was Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop.

Despite the setback, the parish’s gay activists say they plan to hold a prayer service outside the church at the same time as the Mass was originally scheduled for; Donilon told the Globe that the archdiocese would not intervene.

“This should not be about conflict,’’ Donilon told the Globe. “The teachings of the Catholic Church are set in stone, but that doesn’t stop us from loving people from different walks of life.’’

The editors of the Boston Globe on Tuesday acknowledged that Catholic Church teaching forbids homosexual activity on a par with any extramarital sexual relations, while maintaining that homosexual individuals themselves remain, in the words of Cardinal O’Malley, “precious in God’s eye.” However, the editorial concludes that the Mass should have proceeded, and would have caused no scandal.

“No one would have had the misimpression that the church was endorsing gay sex, but the inclusive service would have been an important acknowledgement that gay Catholics exist,” they wrote.

Members of the gay rights lobby nonetheless frequently conflate the Church’s prohibition against homosexual activity with expressions of “hate” against homosexuals themselves.

For example, gay rights leaders in February ripped an iPhone app designed to help Catholics examine their conscience prior to confession because the software prompted users with the question: “Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?”

“Gay Catholics don’t need to confess, they need to come out of the closet and challenge anti-gay dogma. The false idea that being gay is something to be ashamed of has destroyed too many lives,” stated Wayne Besen of the gay rights group Truth Wins Out.