FALL RIVER, Massachusetts, July 11, 2011 ( – A priest in the diocese of Fall River has sharply criticized a Boston mass that was originally billed as a “gay pride” celebration, saying that the event was “the worst type of pastoral malpractice” on the part of parish leaders.

In columns published by The Anchor, Rev. Roger Landry said that the so-called “gay pride” Mass in Boston “has brought to the surface issues that extend far beyond the boundaries of one parish or archdiocese.”

In June the diocese cancelled the Mass originally planned by the St. Cecilia parish’s Rainbow Ministry to coincide with the city’s gay pride month, and allowed the event to be rescheduled in July as a “Welcoming Mass.” While the diocese denied the Mass was intended to celebrate gay pride, the original announcement in the parish bulletin had explicitly said the mass was to be held “in celebration of Boston’s Pride Month.”

“The controversy touches not only on the subject of the pastoral care of the Church toward those with same-sex attractions, but on the much larger matter of the purpose of the Church’s pastoral care to anyone and everyone,” wrote the priest, who is from the diocese of Sen. Ted Kennedy, widely remembered as the Senate’s longtime torchbearer for gay rights.

“[It touches] whether the Church … will faithfully, lovingly and courageously care for people with the fullness of the Gospel; or whether … perhaps out of too much fear to give offense, a lack of faith in the teachings of the Church, or a faint-hearted notion of what true love demands — [it] will dilute the Gospel of its saving power.”

Landry praised Cardinal O’Malley’s strong June 22 statement for acknowledging that “gay pride” is “incompatible with the Church’s teachings.” But the priest lamented that the cardinal’s attempts to distance the Mass from the “gay pride” theme “sadly haven’t succeeded,” and that supporters of the event have used “coded language” “to communicate that supporters of the gay agenda do not have to worry about being made to feel uncomfortable.”

Landry argued that the cardinal was right to resist pressure to cancel the Mass completely, saying “no pastor worth his sacred oils is trigger-happy to eliminate the possibility for people to come into Christ’s presence.” However, he said, there is a need to ask of such themed Masses “whether they encourage implicit or defiant rejection of Christ.”

“Faithful Catholics seek to welcome everyone with the warmth of a brother and sister but also to call everyone to conversion with the humility of a fellow prodigal,” he wrote. Thus, he said, “parishes who are aware that parishioners are unabashedly engaging in practices contrary to the practice of the faith and who do not strive … to help them eliminate whatever in them is leading them to sin, are culpable of the worst type of pastoral malpractice.”

“Their behavior, no matter how they spin it, is inconsistent with genuine Christian love.”

In a second column, Landry recalled the difference between a person and the behavior choices that may be destroying them: a distinction that is key to understanding the Church’s “true acceptance” of homosexuals, whose “sexual desires are neither co-extensive with ‘who they are’ nor constitute the fundamental basis of their identity and dignity.”

“True love means, obviously, that we don’t condemn them for the behavior that disfigures their identity, but it does mean that we try to help them to change their behavior to align it with the love of God and true love of others,” Landry said.

“The only adequate Christian response to anyone is love,” he added, “but this love can never remain a shallow hospitality that fails to help the person recognize and respond to the rather conspicuous ways Christ is challenging him to turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.”