BOSTON, June 20, 2011 ( – A ‘gay-friendly’ parish in Boston is celebrating a victory after leaders in the parish said the archdiocese of Boston had given permission to reschedule a Mass intended to celebrate Boston’s gay pride month for a less controversial date.

The Mass, with the theme “All Are Welcome,” has been rescheduled for July 10 after the archbishop’s office rejected an earlier date that diocesan officials said implied too much cooperation with the city’s gay pride celebrations.

However, it was not only the date that gave the impression of support for gay pride. The original statement in the church bulletin announcing the mass had explicitly invited “all friends and supporters of the LGBT community to a Mass in celebration of Boston’s Pride Month.”’

Members of the ministry were triumphant at Sunday’s prayer service, which took place outside the building of St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in place of the canceled Mass. “See you all on July 10!’’ Rainbow Ministry president John Kelly yelled to the applauding crowd of about 250, according to a Boston Globe report.

On its website, the Rainbow Ministry states that it aims “to reaffirm our Catholic faith community as one which is open to and supportive of gay, lesbian, and transgendered persons in the loving Spirit of Christ.”

Last week, Boston archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon announced that the Mass planned for June 19 would be cancelled, but told the Globe that Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley would not oppose the prayer service that was held in its stead.

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

O’Malley reacted to the negative backlash over the Mass cancellation on his blog Friday, stating, “[T]he Church exists to announce the Gospel and invite people to conversion, to greater discipline in their lives as they seek to follow Christ’s teachings, which apply to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

The cardinal reposted an earlier letter rejecting same-sex “marriage” and recalling, “The Church has often warned against defining people by their sexual orientation in a way that diminishes their humanity.”

Despite such attempts to soothe ruffled feathers, emotions continued to run high in the wake of the archdiocese’s initial move to quash the mass. Following the cancellation Rev. John Unni, the pastor of St. Cecilia’s, gave an impassioned sermon supporting inclusion of parishioners “gay or straight, rich or poor, young or old, black or white.” Other local gay activists joined a chorus of condemnation, including Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop.

Reports from the prayer service indicated that supporters of the Rainbow Ministry are still dissatisfied with the outcome, and the way the controversy was handled.

One member of the crowd, 22-year-old Shawn Fiedler, said in the Globe’s article, “It saddens me that the church follows bloggers and not the Holy Spirit. We’re not going to move forward that way.’’ The vice chairman of the parish council said parish leaders hope to meet with archdiocese officials to discuss “a very hurtful few weeks.”

Local conservative Catholics met news of the Rainbow Ministry’s prayer service with dismay. C.J. Doyle of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts called the service a “tragedy” that revealed “a massive failure of formation and catechesis in Saint Cecilia’s Parish.”

“The archdiocese is neglecting the spiritual welfare of the people of St. Cecilia’s by refusing to give them the full truth of Catholic teaching,” Doyle told Monday afternoon. “Clearly this Mass, if it is allowed to go forward, will be both a scandal and a sacrilege.”

Contact information:

Archdiocese of Boston
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, MA 02184-3839
Telephone: 617-254-0100

Read: Composing Effective Communications in Response to LifeSiteNews Reports