Part One: Some Thoughts on Brentwood's ''Mass Welcoming LGBT Men and Women and their Families''

Torch of The Faith News on Tuesday 15 March 2016 - 17:55:49 | by admin

It is difficult to know where to begin responding to the news that, ostensibly for the Year of Mercy, Brentwood Cathedral hosted a ''Mass Welcoming Particularly LGBT Men and Women and their Families'' on Sunday evening. Still, because this relates to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the source and summit of the life of all Catholics, it would be difficult for us to remain silent.
Perhaps the first and most obvious thing to be said relates to the primary ends of the Holy Mass.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is primarily offered for four ends: Adoration, Thanksgiving, Reparation and Petition. 

These ends mean that the Holy Mass is not about the furthering of ideological agendas.

This brings us to the use of the ''LGBT'' terminology in the advertising for Sunday evening's Mass. Nobody in our society would deny that the LGBT terminology describes an ideological movement which forcefully rejects the objective content of Catholic sexual ethics.

Therefore to use this terminology seems to be suggestive of a very different approach than that of, say, having a Mass offered to help people who experience same-sex attraction to receive God's grace and find the friendship and support, of the local Church community, in living out a life of chastity and Christian discipleship.


Even this latter approach would need the exercise of prudence to ensure: that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was not utilized as a vehicle in the service of ideology; that nobody was given the impression that same-sex pairings were being either celebrated or promoted; that those experiencing same-sex attraction were not unduly exposed (in the alternative senses of being patronized, victimized or else put on a pedestal); that the integral teaching of the Church on the reception of Holy Communion was presented clearly; that other Catholics were not scandalized; that non-Catholics were not confused; and that such a gathering did not become an occasion of sin to participants.

This last point is of particular importance in light of the fact that such events have frequently and sacrilegiously become settings for homosexual ''pick-ups''. For example, someone recently commented, at Clare Short's Faith in Our Families blog, about one of these Masses in Chicago: ''After that mass (sic) many of the guys go to a local gay bar for 'Show Tunes Night' to get drunk, lust after other men, and try to hook-up. Right after Mass.'' (Sadly, we still cannot get links to work inside our news/blog page since experiencing a technical glitch... Do, please, check out Clare's blog though!).

Clare sums things up well in her article by saying: ''I am worried that this gay Mass, rather than leading people to repentance and forgiveness, is instead leading people to believe that the Year of Mercy is all about saying that certain sins are no longer sinful.''

We think that Clare's fears may be well founded.

Some Wider Context

Let's take a step back for a moment to glimpse some wider context.

When it was announced that Fr. Alan Williams was to be elevated from being the Director of the Shrine of Walsingham to being the new Bishop of Brentwood we were quietly confident. 
This was because I had met Fr. Alan just over 20 years ago when an old lady - since gone to her eternal reward - took me on my first ever pilgrimage to Walsingham, as a then recent convert.

Even though it was so long ago, I have always remembered Fr. Alan as a deeply perceptive, prudent and prayerful priest (try saying that with a mouth full of chocolates!). He was also very welcoming and interested in my journey of conversion. Although my feelings were a little stung at the time, I have also been impressed in the longer-term by the way that he gently corrected my younger self for speaking too loudly, to my old lady friend, as I entered into the Shrine building. He did this in a manner which was at once firm and fatherly; adding a reassuring grin after he had firmly hushed me. In two decades I have never forgotten that meeting with a good man of God.

Welcoming People as Opposed to Welcoming Ideologies

Anyone who runs a large shrine needs to have discernment, together with an open and accepting approach towards the countless different personalities who might visit for a multitude of different motivations and reasons. Still, there is a difference between welcoming individuals, or even groups, and welcoming their various agendas; especially if these are at odds with Catholic truth.

At this point, I want to quote from an account posted by a lady called Ania Kowalski at the website of the dissenting Quest organization. Regular readers will know that we have critiqued this organization and its homosexualist agenda before, due to its promotion of dissent from the Magisterium in relation to homosexual relationships and acts.

On 1st November, 2014, Ania wrote about the warm welcome that she received from Fr. Alan when she met with him, in August 2013, to discuss a pilgrimage to Walsingham. Nothing to surprise anyone there.

However, from a Catholic perspective, the problem arises when Ania states that Fr. Alan had said that Quest would be most welcome to attend as an LGBT group. Now, to be fair to him, Ania's article does acknowledge that Fr. Alan claimed to have never heard of Quest before. So, it would seem that, when he agreed to their group's official pilgrimage, he did not know about their public dissent from Magisterial teaching over homosexual relationships and acts.

Still, even without this easily researchable information, the fact that Quest was encouraged to come as an LGBT group is highly problematic, in light of all that we have said above regarding terminology and ideology.

For example, it would be very easy to check if this group supported its members in living chaste lives in the way that, say, the Courage organization does. As we have argued above, the use of LGBT terminology is itself supportive of a movement that forcefully rejects Catholic truth in relation to sexual ethics. In spite of that, Ania rejoices in her article that, the then, Fr. Alan told her that a support group like hers would be great and to ''keep going'' with it.

Then, on 14th April 2014, Fr. Alan Williams was announced as the next Bishop of Brentwood. When the Quest group did attend Walsingham that year, the members wore large T-shirts emblazoned with a Quest Lesbian and Gay logo. It seems that these were even worn for Holy Mass and for the carrying of the statue of Our Lady in the procession...  

Fr. Dominic Howarth

The name of Fr. Dominic Howarth will be familiar to those Catholic parents who withdrew their children from last year's CYMFed - Flame 2 youth event when it became clear that Fr. Dominic Howarth had, for a second time, invited the dissenting homosexualist Fr. Tim Radcliffe OP as a keynote speaker - he had also spoken at the initial 2012 event at Howarth's invitation.
Again, may God bless her, it was Clare Short who asked on 1st December, 2014, via her Faith in Our Families blog: ''Are CYMFed recognizing and respecting parents' role as primary educator and protector?''

In light of that whole Flame 2 debacle, it should perhaps come as no surprise to learn that Fr. Dominic Howarth was described as the ''Preacher'' at Sunday evening's ''Mass Welcoming Particularly LGBT Men and Women and their Families'' in Brentwood Cathedral.

Fr. Dominic has posted up his homily from the Mass on his Twitter page. We intend to reflect on that in part two...