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MEDIA RELEASE                                             

FOR IMMEDIATE CIRCULATION                                                     

27 JULY 2017

The LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act with the following statement:

 

    RECLAIMING & HONOURING OUR HISTORY  - historic responses of the Catholic Church in England & Wales to sexual orientation and diversity.

 

In order to respond to "the perennial questions which people ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other," the 2nd Vatican Council stated that "the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel." (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 7 December 1965). 

 

Discerning how it responds to developing issues around sexual orientation and gender identity, the Catholic Church in England & Wales has an important and pragmatic history. As we mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act and its partial de-criminalisation of male homosexuality, the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council wishes to remember the approaches adopted by the Church, both in 1957 and 1967. These offer us vital lessons as we face the challenges of inclusive LGBT pastoral care, theological development, and expressions of official Church teaching on matters of sexual diversity and gender identity. Issues of sexual orientation and gender identity are as much a matter of social justice as they are of personal sexual ethics.

 

In 1958, as reported in Hansard, the then Roman Catholic Advisory Committee on Prostitution & Homosexual Offences, appointed by Cardinal Griffin, said: It should accordingly be clearly stated that penal sanctions are not justified for the purpose of attempting to restrain sins against sexual morality committed in private by responsible adults. They are, as later appears, at present employed for this purpose in this country and should be discontinued because: 1. (a) they are ineffectual; 2. (b) they are inequitable in their incidence; 3. (c) they involved severities disproportionate to the offence committed; 4. (d) they undoubtedly give scope for blackmail and other forms of corruption. It is accordingly recommended that the Criminal Law should be amended in order to restrict penal sanctions for homosexual offences as follows, namely, to prevent: 1. (a) the corruption of youth; 2. (b) offences against public decency; 3. (c) the exploitation of vice for the purpose of gain."  The Cardinal left the decision to Church members as to whether any amendment of the law would seem to be condoning sin. 

This approach, maintaining a distinction between legality and personal morality, was continued when, in 1967, the Sexual Offences Act became law. Similar, more discerned and developed criteria were proposed by Cardinal Hume in 1997 when considering recent advances in LGBT-related legislation. Such a scrutiny of 'the signs of the times' in the secular realities of our time also provides the context to appreciate the often prophetic significance of the 1979 lntroduction to the Pastoral Care of Homosexual People, published by the Social Welfare Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales. Such pragmatism relating to these matters may also be found in various policy and guidance documents to Catholic agencies and schools from the Catholic Bishops of England & Wales. 

These historic approaches by the Catholic community are consistent with the pastoral outreach to LGBT people practised by Pope Francis and Westminster Diocese. A fully inclusive pastoral ministry with and for LGBT Catholics, parents and families, inevitably leads to understanding Church teaching on sexuality and gender identity as a developing area of magisterial teaching and not something fixed once and for all in previous documents from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

On this important secular anniversary we therefore call upon the Church's hierarchy, globally and locally, to undertake a serious listening process, involving LGBT Catholics, parents, theologians and pastoral workers, bishops and priests, in order to bring about the vision expressed by Pope Francis in The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia): “The unity that we seek is not uniformity, but a “unity in diversity”, or 'reconciled diversity'. Fraternal communion is enriched by respect and appreciation for differences within an overall perspective that advances the common good."  

                                                                        

Further details: LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council

lgbtcatholicswestminster@gmai l.com  -  www.lgbtcatholicswestminster. org  -  020 8986 0807

 




MEDIA RELEASE 
17th November 2016

An iconic quilt panel, commemorating the lives of those lost to the AIDS epidemic in the UK, will be on display at the Church of the Immaculate Conception (Farm Street Jesuit Church), 11 Mount Street, Mayfair, London W1K 3AH, from 30 November-4 December 2016. This display and a World AIDS Day Mass on Thursday, 1 December, 18.00, are part of a series of London-wide events, forming an AIDS Quilt Trail across London. 

7 churches of various denominations are among the community locations taking part, with Farm Street Church being the only Roman Catholic church involved. The LGBT Catholic Westminster community is based at Farm Street, and its Beacon Music Group will accompany the World AIDS Day Mass on 1 December. 

Martin Pendergast, a member of the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council and one of the first Catholics to develop HIV/AIDS support in the 1980's, said: 
We're delighted that Farm Street Church is hosting a part of the UK Names Quilt. The panels not only show the emotional and physical effects of AIDS at the beginning of the epidemic, but are also a huge part of social history, and a great reminder of how far we've come in the last 30 years as treatments have developed." 
LGBT Catholics previously hosted sections of the UK Names Quilt at the Church of the Assumption, Warwick Street, during London's 2012 World Pride. 

The Quilt Trail has been organised by a coalition of HIV/AIDS charities including the George House Trust, the Terrence Higgins Trust, Positive East, The Food Chain, Positively UK, and Sahir House, supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

The Quilts show how far the UK has come in the fight against HIV, no longer stopping people living with HIV from leading long and healthy lives. Even so, there is still much to be done to tackle stigma and discrimination, prevent further transmission, and encourage diagnosis for the 1 in 6 people who are unaware they have the virus.


Further details: Martin Pendergast - lgbtcatholicswestminster@gmail.com 
                               020 8986 0807  -  www.lgbtcatholicswestminster.org  

Twitter - #AIDSQuiltUK  -  www.aidsquiltuk.org 



Papal call for apology to gay people

Our statement to the recent statement by Pope Francis:

LGBT  CATHOLICS  WESTMINSTER  WELCOME  POPE  FRANCIS’  LGBT  APOLOGY

 In the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub massacre and in the midst of the global LGBT Pride season, LGBT Catholics Westminster welcomes Pope Francis' heartfelt apology to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people, their parents and families, for offences to them committed by the Church.

 

With our sisters and brothers in the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics and Catholics in the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, we have been seeking such words of hope and reconciliation since the 2014 and 2015 Synods, and not least in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. 

 

Now is the time, a kairos-moment - a grace opportunity for all - for these words to find embodiment in action for inclusion and justice from all members of the Catholic hierarchy, throughout the world. LGBT Catholic communities have long engaged in what Pope Francis has called bishops and priests to do: "get the smell of the sheep." 

 

Our joining in global, national, and local Pride manifestations have been opportunities for us to witness to Christ in the midst of the complex realities of variant sexual orientation and gender identities. As our tears have been shed for the victims of Orlando and other hate crimes, for refugees seeking safe places away from homophobic and trans persecution and human trafficking, so we have been nurtured in prayer, worship and sensitive pastoral care. 

 

Let the riches of these experiences benefit the whole Church through the convening of a global listening process engaging LGBT Catholics, parents and families, Vatican departments, bishops, priests, theologians and pastoral advocates. Then words of apology will take flesh in the life of all the people of God. How long, O God, how long?



The pdf file can be found here


Orlando

LGBT Catholics in London express their solidarity with their sisters and brothers in Orlando, following the homophobic and transphobic violence perpetrated in Orlando, Florida, on 12 June. Having ourselves been born, as a worshiping community, out of the 1999 Admiral Duncan Soho bombing when 3 people were killed and 83 people injured, we know only too well that such violent attacks on our communities are never far away.

LGBT targeted hate-crimes must be recognised for what they are: assaults on the precious dignity of each human being as 'wonderfully created as God's work of art' (Psalm 139). We call upon religious leaders of all faith traditions to recognise the reality  of the Orlando outrage. We specifically call upon our Catholic leaders to acknowledge how the language of some official documents on sexual orientation can, in fact, incite and support those who commit such violence. Official Church teaching should be reaffirmed, unequivocally: " It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law." (Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1986)

We therefore repeat our call to the 2015 Synod urging Pope Francis and Vatican Departments to support the global decriminalisation of homosexuality, with an end to the use of the death penalty and torture for LGBT people. In this way we can together, people of God and all those committed to the common good, rid Church and society of systemic, institutional homophobia and transphobia and its violent outcomes.



A recent release from the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) can be found here


Media release - IMMEDIATE CIRCULATION - 11 MAY 2015

Cardinal Vincent Nichols was welcomed by a packed Farm Street Jesuit Church on Sunday, 10 May 2015, when he presided at the scheduled 18.15 Mass which welcomes LGBT Catholics, their parents and families. This was the first time that an Archbishop of Westminster had presided at such a Mass which was concelebrated by Monsignor Keith Barltrop, the Cardinal's Liaison with the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council, Farm Street's Parish Priest, Fr. Andrew Cameron-Mowat SJ, and Fr. John O'Leary, Cardinal Nichols' Secretary.

Specially-composed music, including Live every day in my love, based on the day's Gospel reading, and a new version of Psalm 97 were sung by the Beacon Music Group which accompanies Farm Street's 2nd Sunday evening Masses. Members of the LGBT
Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council were among the readers at the Mass.

Expressing his delight in being able to celebrate this Mass, Cardinal Nichols highlighted the day's scripture readings: God has no favourites, but anyone who does what is right is acceptable to God. Affirming that in God's mercy and love, all are acceptable and accepted, the Cardinal warned against those who would set God's mercy and Commandments against each other. It is this understanding of mercy which is informing so much of Pope Francis' ministry, and also the Synods' processes. The Commandments  are not simply regulations imposed from on high, but indications of how God's mercy can be received and embraced as we journey in the transformation to which we are called. The Cardinal emphasised that it is in the Eucharist that we become what we see: the Body of Christ.
A link to Cardinal Nichols' Homily is included below.

Following the Mass, the Cardinal spent time with the congregation over refreshments in Farm Street Parish Hall. The Cardinal thanked both the Parish and the LGBT Catholic Westminster Pastoral Council for journeying together in this important pastoral outreach.

In order to respect the occasion's privacy a request had been made that no recording or photographs should be taken. It later emerged that someone present disregarded this, recording proceedings in the church and hall. An LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council spokesperson said: The fact that this person deliberately ignored the parish priest's request tells much of his intentions and lack of respect.


Further details: LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council
                            lgbtcatholicswestminster@gmail.com


MEDIA RELEASE - IMMEDIATE CIRCULATION - 4 MAY 2015
Cardinal Vincent Nichols to Preside at Mass welcomi ng LGBT Catholics, Parents and Families.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their parents and families, will give a warm welcome to Cardinal Vincent Nichols when he presides at the Mass they attend at Farm Street Jesuit Church in Central London on Sunday, 10 May, 18.15. The Beacon Music Group will be accompanying the Mass, including a specially composed piece for the occasion, Live Every Day in My Love.

The LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council moved its gatherings from the Church of the Assumption in London's Soho to the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, Mayfair in March 2013. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, requested that they focus on pastoral support and development for LGBT Catholics and their parents in this new and better-resourced location.

The 10 May Mass will be the first time that a Cardinal has presided at a Mass welcoming LGBT Catholics in London. It takes place, coincidentally, after the 16th anniversary of the first such Mass which took place on 2 May 1999 in a Catholic Convent, two days after the Admiral Duncan pub bombing in Soho. However, this is not the first time that Cardinal Nichols has met with LGBT Catholics in Westminster Diocese. He welcomed them to Farm Street Jesuit Church on 4 March 2013 and engaged in an open Question & Answer session on that occasion. He also attended a meeting of the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council in November 2013.
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