Cardinal Nichols is Queering the Church
The controversial Soho Masses were a source of grave scandal for some time before Vincent Nichols was honoured with the title "Cardinal". Not because they were a point of evangelism to a marginalised community, but because it was clear that they weren't. Instead the Masses were transformed into something else. Political rainbow flags were displayed, bidding prayers expressed things at variance with Catholic teachings, in short, the Masses had been transformed into protests against the Church’s teaching. For this reason they were, and are, hugely inappropriate.
Ultimately, Cardinal Nichols was called to Rome where the head of the CDF, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller took action to ensure they stopped. This was also reported in The Catholic Herald who wrote that the then Archbishop Nichols:
...said today that, while the Masses will stop, pastoral care of the community will continue at the Jesuit Farm Street church in Mayfair on Sunday evenings.The reality was that there were so many complaints made and so little action was, as ever, forthcoming, that the CDF felt it had no alternative but to take action. This lack of clear leadership seems characteristic.
As Fr. Ray reported in 2012, the problem arose as a result of
...the CDF turning a Nelsonian eye to the whole matter under Cardinal Levada when Bishop Longley, acting on behalf of Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, negotiated the community's move from an Anglican Church. To be fair the impression given at the time was that these Masses would be carefully overseen and regulated, subsequently of course Bishop Longley was moved to Birmingham and following Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's retirement, Archbishop Nichols took over at Westminster and things have been left drift.These Masses were designed to give pastoral care to particular group who sort help from the Church instead people who attended, vulnerable people, some of my parishioners have been there, they found a lobby group for dissent against the Church's teaching "and rather spiritual than help, a gay dating agency", as one said.
The real problem has been a very serious lack of leadership and pastoral oversight. This, and the grave dissent is presumably what Archbishop Müller will want to deal with.It was rumoured that the change was one of the "boxes" that Nichols needed to "tick" before he was given his red hat.
However, it became very obvious, very quickly, that Cardinal Nichols had no intention of stopping the Masses, he simply moved the venue. What about dealing with the Pastoral issue? Surely he did that? Well, the Masses are followed by a "social" organised by LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council. Their lack of fidelity to Christ and His Church is written all over their Facebook Page here. These are people who self-identify as LGBT, who think the Church is wrong in what it teaches, and who want to change the Church to suit their own sexual predilection.
The Catholic Herald cover the story of the Mass here. Of course, the Cardinal's spokesman is very careful to articulate that the Mass was not specifically “for gay Catholics”, but for all Farm Street parishioners.
Regardless, the most revealing comments are made by the people the Mass was aimed at. Terence Weldon runs the blog Queering the Church, the title of which disturbs me greatly in itself and speaks to its agenda. He has posted some initial reflections on the Mass which include the comment that, at Communion,
a high proportion of the congregation were there precisely they are gay, lesbian or trans, and Nichols will have known that many of those are in loving (possibly sexual) relationships, civil partnerships, or legal marriages. A long line formed before him for communion, and all received the sacrament – exactly as it should be.The Church teaches 1 Cor 11:27
Perhaps most revealing is this:
In just two years, so much has changed. Two years ago, we knew that Cardinal Nichols would be attending the inaugural Farm St Mass with an explicit welcome for LGBT Catholics – but he did not want that fact to be publicised. (Correction: I’ve been told that he attended the gathering for refreshments. . in the hall, but not the Mass itself).[My emphasis]
There is much more about this Mass and its importance that could be said. The homily needs more careful reflection and analysis, with the text before me. Two years on, it’s time for an assessment of the move from Farm Street – how well it’s working for those who continue to attend, but also why it has so badly let down those who for one reason or another cannot. To balance the celebration of what has been achieved in those two years, we should consider what still needs to be done. (Clue: It’s a lot).
I think we see here that the Cardinal's agenda has not changed. It is not Rome's, it is his own. It is an agenda he has nurtured since his earliest formation. It is the agenda of Derek Worlock and the National Pastoral Congress. It is a return to the warped theology of Charles Curran, banned from teaching in Catholic Schools by the CDF.
We can also see the chameleon-like qualities of this Cardinal. He didn't get his job by not being a politician. He can sense what way the wind is blowing. Under Pope Benedict XVI, he acted very differently to the way he is acting now, as Weldon points out in the quote above.
He is now exploiting the ambiguities in the rhetoric of Pope Francis to justify furthering an agenda he has been pursuing for decades, dressing up his anti-Catholic agenda in words like "mercy" and "pastoral". But his is an agenda which can only lead to further relativism and breed confusion and pain in the Church. However, given recent developments, one has to wonder if the Cardinal isn't pushing his own agenda too far and will soon be left high and dry?
One thing is clear from Weldon's comments. Whether Cardinal Nichols intends to or not, he is assisting Weldon et al's agenda of "Queering the Church".
John Smeaton, Director of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child recently catalogued a number of the
Troubling statements made by Cardinal Nichols on homosexuality and homosexual unions
On 2nd July 2010 Archbishop Nichols was interviewed by Stephen Sackur on BBC TV programme Hardtalk.
Stephen Sackur: The Church of England for example in this country is taking a rather different view. They believe there has to be some flexibility. The church has to be a reflection of society's values to a certain extent and therefore we see women priests, women vicars, and there's obviously in some parts of the Anglican Communion, women bishops.
Archbishop Nichols: Certainly.
Stephen Sackur: Some of their vicars are also prepared to sanction gay unions. That church is showing flexibility. Is the Catholic church not going to have to do the same eventually?
Archbishop Nichols: I don't know. Who knows what's down the road?
On 11th September 2010 Archbishop Nichols was interviewed by Neil Tweedie of The Telegraph and asked if the Church would “one day accept the reality of gay partnerships”. He replied:
“I don’t know. There is in the Book of Nature an inherent connection between human sexuality and procreation; and those two things cannot ultimately be totally separate. People who are of a homosexual orientation say: 'Well, hang on a minute. How is the Book of Nature written in me?' The most important thing the Christian tradition says is, don't see yourself simply as an isolated individual but as part of a wider family. The moral demands on all of us made by that tradition are difficult. That tradition says human sexuality is for an expression of total self-giving in fidelity in a way that is open to the creation of new life. Now, that's tough, that's a high ideal. I'm not sure many people have ever observed it in its totality, but it doesn't mean to say it has no sense.”
In July 2011 the dissenting “Catholic” homosexual lobby group QUEST held its annual conference at the Archdiocese of Westminster pastoral centre of All Saint’s at London Colney.
At the time the conference took place their website contained the following statements:
"homosexual sex is not an incomplete or less perfect expression of human sexuality..."
"the teaching of the Vatican Congregations....is incompatible with the Gospel"
"Quest, an association for lesbian and gay Catholics, welcomes in general the government's proposals to provide for legal recognition of same-sex partnerships."
On 20th September 2010 Archbishop Nichols was interviewed on the BBC by Huw Edwards for a programme reflecting on Pope Benedict's visit to Britain.
Other interviewees included Diarmaid MacCulloch, a homosexual Anglican and Oxford professor of church history, Tina Beattie, a “Catholic” academic and notorious dissenter and Lord Patten, who helped to organise the papal visit.
At 21 minutes 30 seconds into the programme, Huw Edwards to put it to Professor MacCulloch that Pope Benedict:
“clearly sees Britain...as a country where there is a lot of growing hostility to faith communities. Is that the right reading?"
Professor MacCulloch replied:
“That is a code, and it’s a code for something quite specific. The code is: now Britain treats gay people as equal with heterosexual people, and gay partnerships are on the statute book, and the Catholic hierarchy hates that fact. You see them across the world as gay marriages are introduced in country after country...”
Archbishop Nichols intervened in a firm manner to tell Professor MacCulloch:
“That’s not true, in this country. In this country, we [the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales] were very nuanced. We did NOT oppose gay civil partnerships, we recognised that in English law there might be a case for those. We persistently said that these are not the same as marriage.”
Later (at 24mins50secs into the programme) Archbishop Nichols said:
“The times we [the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales] interfere most in British politics is on poverty and education. Of course the media are obsessed with certain issues [JS: referring to a previous reference by Dr Beattie to homosexuality] but if you want to know what it is we’re really passionate about, it’s about the fight against poverty and [about] the education of young people.”
Later (at 27mins30secs into the programme), Professor MacCulloch said:
“I’m pleased to hear what the archbishop has to say about sexual questions, and it has to be said that the English Catholic Church has rather taken its own line on this, not the Vatican’s line, there is always a certain independence in the English Catholic Church. It’s is good that that should be so.”
The interview did not contain any contradiction by Archbishop Nichols of Professor MacCulloch’s statement that the “English Catholic Church” took a different line to “the Vatican”.
On 26th November 2011 The Tablet attributed the following words to Archbishop Nichols in an article entitledArchbishop Praises Civil Partnerships:
“We would want to emphasize that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision,” the archbishop said. “As a Church we are very committed to the notion of equality so that people are treated the same across all the activities of life.”
On 2nd December 2011 the Catholic News Agency published the following:
When Archbishop Nichols was asked by CNA if the bishops of England were contradicting the Vatican’s guidelines, he said that the bishops have tried “to recognize the reality of the legal provision in our country of an agreement, a partnership, with many of the same legal safeguards as in marriage.” He further explained that while the bishops recognize the existence of civil partnerships, they also “believe that that is sufficient,” and that they should not be placed on par with marriage.
“Clearly, respect must be shown to those who in the situation in England use a civil partnership to bring stability to a relationship,” the archbishop said, qualifying that while “equality is very important and there should be no unjust discrimination,” that “commitment plus equality do not equal marriage.”
Also December 2011, in an interview given to the BBC Todayprogramme, Archbishop Nichols said:
“When it comes to understanding what human sexuality is for, there is a lot that we have to explore. Because I think what is at one level in the broad perspective clear, is that there is an intrinsic link between procreation and human sexuality. Now how do we start from that principle, not lose it, and have an open, ongoing conversation with those who say, well, that’s not my experience?
“How do we bring together some principles that if you like are written into the broad book of nature, and individual experiences? That’s the area that we have to be sensitive and open to, and genuinely wanting to explore."
23rd March 2015 - Archbishop Nichols met with leadership of dissenting lobby group QUEST, who then issued the following statement:
Quest Chair Ruby Almeida and Deputy Chair Nick Burchnall met with Cardinal Vincent Nichols at Archbishop’s House on Friday 20th March 2015. This was a planned return visit with His Eminence to discuss, amongst other things, the Icon Of Emmaus which was presented at the Quest Conference in Scarborough in July 2014. The meeting was very cordial and filled with much that was positive and constructive. This we hope, paves the way for Quest to have closer ties with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church of England and Wales, and something that our membership has been wanting for some time now.
Cardinal Nichols is President of Marriage Care, an organisation which provides counselling services to same-sex couples. The Tablet reported, on 15th September 2011, that the Chief Executive of Marriage Care, Terry Prendergast, had said of same-sex couples; "We have offered them focused marriage preparation - private, and not in a group. This is about two people in love and one of our main aims is to support loving partnerships."
In a document on their website Marriage Care explain:
"Today, Marriage Care sees itself as a service provider of relationship education and support to all sections of the community, delivered from within a Christian ethos, developed from the organisation’s Catholic roots. We understand this Christian ethos to mean in practice that we are open to all, acknowledging the value and uniqueness of every human being regardless of gender, age, race, creed or sexual orientation.
"So, for Marriage Care, the Christian ethos is not made up of a set of doctrines but rather is an exhortation to the members of the charity to be visible by their inclusive and loving behaviour of the other by providing a rich variety of services across the whole community."
The document continues:
"Does the Church community understand the real tension for Marriage Care arising from the necessary divergence of message in the delivery of marriage preparation and counselling (arising, as noted above, from different service user identities and priorities)?
"How does Marriage Care remain in a dialogue with the hierarchy so that our specialist and particular insight and expertise might contribute to our joint learning?
"In particular, there is a need to explore further:
- What we all think we are trying to achieve through our marriage preparation programmes.
- How we develop a language for our service provision which is understandable for our different service users.
- How we clarify what the “teaching of the church” means in the context of our messy lives."
He also said he voted "no" to the SSA paragraph on the final synod doc because "I did not think it went far enough".
The care of persons with homosexual tendencies is an important part of what the Church teaches. No one, including myself, would for a second, hesitate to criticise a project of outreach and warm welcome. But Christ did not condone sin, He called us to repent and believe the Gospel. Meanwhile, the role of Bishops in the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons is absolutely clear:
All support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted. Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and to the use of Church buildings by these groups, including the facilities of Catholic schools and colleges. To some, such permission to use Church property may seem only just and charitable; but in reality it is contradictory to the purpose for which these institutions were founded, it is misleading and often scandalous.
In assessing proposed legislation, the Bishops should keep as their uppermost concern the responsibility to defend and promote family life.Why is our Cardinal obstinately promoting a different faith? A faith which seems starkly to contradict the Catholic faith I love so much!