By Hilary White

September 8, 2008 ( – The Catholic diocese of Southwark told a lay Catholic organisation that it was helpless to stop a pro-homosexual group from holding their annual meeting in a local Catholic college this summer. Quest, a group formed to oppose Catholic teaching on homosexuality and chastity, held its meeting this July at Digby Stuart College, a Catholic college at Roehampton University.

Speakers at the Quest conference included Fr. Michael Seed, the Franciscan “priest to the stars”, and ecumenical officer at the archdiocese of Westminster, who had the responsibility of instructing former Prime Minister Tony Blair in the Catholic faith before the latter’s reception last December into the Church.

Quest, founded in 1973 by former Dominican friar Mark Dowd, claims its purpose is to “proclaim the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ so as to sustain and increase Christian belief among homosexual men and women.” The group’s true agenda, however, which it takes pains to conceal on its website, is to push the Catholic Church to abandon its teaching on sexuality and marriage.

The National Association of Catholic Families has identified Quest as “an organization, dedicated to denying the teaching of the Church.” In 1998, Quest was removed from the Catholic Directory on the instructions of the late Basil Cardinal Hume, then archbishop of Westminster. Last year a Quest event at the Liverpool University Catholic Chaplaincy was cancelled at the insistence of Archbishop Patrick Kelly, after Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice intervened.

Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice said in its most recent newsletter that Quest is “a militant homosexual group.” Starting in January this year, Pro Ecclesia began writing to Kevin McDonald, the archbishop of Southwark, asking him to “protect his students” from Quest, but they received no answer.

After a second letter went unanswered, a third, copied to the Vatican, received the response from archdiocesan officials which said that since the archdiocese did not own Digby Stuart College, nothing could be done to stop the event. Daphne McLeod, however, told that the archdiocese was proactively supporting the event by providing a chaplain, Fr. Alan McLean.

The Quest website refuses to reveal much of the group’s aims and positions on Catholic teaching and only edited versions of their newsletter are available to the general public. The public is also excluded from the discussion forum and its officers are listed only by their first names. But the campaign organisation Catholic Action UK points out that first on the Quest list of objectives is to aid “lay men and women who are seeking ways of reconciling the full practice of their Catholic faith with the full expression of their homosexual natures in loving Christian relationships.”

A survey conducted of Quest membership in 2000 found that 89 percent of members said “no” when asked, “Are you convinced by any arguments that you have heard to the effect that sex outside marriage is always wrong?” When asked “Should Quest work for change in official Church teaching on sexuality?” 90 percent said “yes.” Asked, “Should it be part of the purpose of Quest to encourage its members to live chaste lives with no sexual activity?” 81 percent of the membership said “no.”

When archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham made a stand against the government’s Sexual Orientation Regulations, Quest sent a letter to its members complaining that Nichols “believes he can bully the government into submission by threatening to withdraw the Church’s co-operation in a whole manner of areas if it does not climb down.” The group also made a submission to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales attacking their position against homosexual civil partnerships.

Daphne McLeod told in an interview that “Quest are aiming specially at young Catholics. These are vulnerable because they’re ignorant. They’re not being taught the faith, and neither are their parents. Parents send their children to university and encourage them to become involved in the Catholic chaplaincy there.”

“They should be protected, but the bishops won’t do it.”

Read related coverage:

Liverpool Catholic Church Praised for Refusing to Allow Pro-homosexual Group to Use Church Premises

To contact Archbishop Kevin MacDonald
  Archbishop’s House
  150 St George’s Road
  SE1 6HX

Private Secretary to the Archbishop
  020 7928 0687
  Monsignor William Saunders
[email protected]


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