Hilary White


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January 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a surprising reversal of six years of policy, the Archbishop of Westminster has rescinded permission for a group of homosexual activists to hold specially dedicated Masses at which the homosexual lifestyle was promoted as morally acceptable for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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Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

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By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website, www.babycaust.de, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

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By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” Katholisch.de editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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