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Bishop John Arnold of the Diocese of SalfordScreenshot/YouTube

LEEDS, England (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have defended their widespread promotion of LGBT Masses, with one prelate telling LifeSiteNews that “being together in prayer” was more important than Catholic teaching on chastity.

For many years, Catholic dioceses in England and Wales have been home to “LGBT+ Masses,” often strongly supported by the local bishops, and which have led to the detriment of Catholic teaching on LGBT issues. LifeSite has reported on a number of such Masses, including the notorious “Soho Masses” in the Archdiocese of Westminster, and more recently LGBT Masses in the Archdiocese of Liverpool and the Diocese of Clifton. 

The recent Synodal report from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) also reports that the diocesan submissions “lament[] the exclusion and sidelining of LGBTQ+ Catholics.” The CBCEW’s report wrote that “church teaching or perceptions of God were seen as inhibiting self-acceptance.”

Doubling down on this practice, Bishop John Arnold of Salford diocese told LifeSiteNews that such support from the English bishops would not change in the future. 

‘LGBT Masses’ wouldn’t benefit from ‘homily about celibacy’

As part of the press conference following the CBCEW Autumn Plenary meetings, LifeSite asked Arnold whether “LGBT Masses” taught Catholic Church teaching – specifically on sexuality, chastity, and the denial of Holy Communion to those obviously living in a state contrary to Church teaching, such as in a practicing same-sex relationship. The Salford-based prelate was unable to provide an affirmative answer.

“Pope Francis asks us to welcome everybody and to accept people as they are, made in the image of God,” Arnold replied, “and I think the Mass should focus primarily on the message of the Scriptures of the day – that we are concerned about the ongoing conversion of all of us.”

“When you have an LGBT Mass there are an awful lot of people who aren’t LGBT who are there because they’re family and friends, and who are merely concerned to be there in solidarity,” the Bishop of Salford stated. 

READ: English archbishop says he has ‘no intention’ of canceling LGBT Mass

“We say that the Gospel teaching in its fullness certainly includes questions of sexuality and celibacy, but let’s form a community where people feel welcome,” continued Arnold, “that they’re being encouraged to be part of Church with all of us – and none of us is perfect – and to be on that road of conversion to what God wants us all to be. And that we will decipher in different ways according to who we are.”

While LifeSite asked whether Catholic teaching – particularly the call to chastity and celibacy for those with same-sex attraction – was mentioned in the homilies of such Masses, Arnold downplayed this need. 

“I don’t think that there’s a need for an LGBT Mass simply to be about a homily on celibacy: that doesn’t make sense to me at all,” he said. 

Instead, Arnold argued that “LGBT Masses” were centered on “being together in prayer, asking ‘who am I, what is my mission, who am I called to be?’, and we take that gently and reject nobody.”

Arnold – who is a prominent supporter and celebrator of “LGBT Masses” – cited Scriptures in an attempt to defend his stance, arguing that Christ “never turned anybody away.” He did not add, however, how Christ also taught those who approached him.

Arnold stated:

The wonderful thing in the Gospels is that even with the greatest of critics who came to him, Jesus never turned anybody away. He never said ‘Get lost, you don’t agree with me, I don’t want anything to do with you.’ He listened, he argued with them, he put his questions and then sent them away. 

The influence of Pope Francis on the English episcopate was evident during the press conference, with Arnold highlighting how the Pope “wants to emphasise for all of us that we’re welcome in Church, and if we’re welcomed, then we are guided by Church teaching and become part of one communion in faith.”

Catholic teaching on homosexuality

Arnold’s and the CBCEW’s persistent refusal to commit to preaching the Catholic teaching on homosexuality is actually in violation of prior Vatican texts.

Under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1986, the Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a document instructing bishops on the pastoral care of homosexual persons. The CDF admonished bishops to ensure they, and any “pastoral programme” in the diocese, are “clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral.” 

Such an authentic pastoral approach would “assist homosexual persons at all levels of the spiritual life: through the sacraments, and in particular through the frequent and sincere use of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through prayer, witness, counsel and individual care,” stated the CDF.

The instruction adds: 

But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.

Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.

The policy of simply welcoming, and “being together in prayer” with LGBT groups without teaching the Catholic faith on LGBT issues, was thus explicitly condemned by the Vatican’s doctrinal office.

Friday abstinence – to tackle ‘climate change’

The bishops also promoted a resolution drawn up during their recent Plenary meeting, which ties the Catholic tradition of Friday abstinence from meat to tackling “climate change.”

READ: Cdl. Parolin urges global leaders to advance goals of pro-abortion Paris Climate Agreement

The CBCEW called on Catholics to “refresh their weekly observance of Friday abstinence,” noting that by doing so “we dedicate to God the pressing need for us all to live more simply.”

The underlying motivation for this seemed not to be a renewed desire for Catholic practices, but to act on a Cambridge University study which argued that the practice could reduce CO2 emissions by “55,000 tonnes over a year.” This, as the study and the CBCEW stated, was equivalent to 82,000 individual return flights from the U.K. to the U.S.

“In abstaining from meat on Fridays,” continued the CBCEW, “we also act in solidarity with those who face hunger and poverty every day, with the care of creation by recognising the environmental impact of meat production and in memory of the death of Christ, by which our broken relationships with each other and with God’s creation are healed.”

READ: How global warming alarmism is being used to promote population control and abortion

However, Tom Harris, Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition and a former climate change alarmist, recently rebuffed the mainstream hysteria on the topic of “climate change.”

Climate science is “a very immature science,” Harris stated, echoing a book which dismantles the claims of thousands of articles about the climate crisis, showing that “there is no foundation” to the proposition.

“There are thousands of references here which talk about the fact that there is no foundation to the climate scam,” he said. “It’s all based on models that don’t work.”