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Prefect to rescue archbishop from a gay Mass dilemma

William Oddie, a leading English writer on Catholicism, explains how the new CDF prefect, Archbishop MĂĽller could solve a tricky problem for the Archbishop of Westminster. Note: this is an edited extract from a longer article.

  • William Oddie
  • United Kingdom
  • November 2, 2012
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The Pope has announced a consistory for next month. Since this is the second consistory at which our own Archbishop of Westminster might feasibly have received his red hat, the omission of his name has occasioned a certain amount of ill-conditioned comment, almost certainly unjustified. This is an unusually small consistory: and others who might have appeared (and were indeed expected to appear) are also missing.

So the idea that by omitting his name yet again Rome is showing its displeasure at the Archbishop’s, shall we say, lack of entire conformity with the Holy Father’s teaching and specific intentions, by withholding the desirable headgear in question is premature.

Most notably, the newly appointed prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, who is known to be close to the Holy Father, isn’t there either but certainly will be soon….

….The mention of the new Prefect of the CDF, Gerhard Ludwig Müller does, however, inevitably raise the question which remains the most potentially inflammatory source of division between Rome and Westminster: the Soho Masses….

….A German publication which appears to have good sources of information, the Katholisches Magazin für Kirche und Kultur, reports under the headline “Homo-Messen: Glaubenspräfekt Müller will Klarheit” that “The new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, intends, very firmly, to address the problem of the Mass which is celebrated twice a month in London, Warwick Street in Soho for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people which has the approval of the Archbishop of Westminster, Mgr. Vincent Nichols.

It seems that in the recent past other agencies of the Roman Curia, at the request and solicitation of Catholics in London, have asked for clarification and noted the concerns associated with such an initiative.

Among other things, an expert on the liturgy and theology noted there is a danger that the initiative will lead to a ghettoization of the persons concerned”.

Fr Ray Blake comments that “These Masses were designed to give pastoral care to particular groups who sought 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 than spiritual 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.”

A very serious lack of leadership and pastoral help, says Fr Blake. That, and the “ghettoisation” of those attending certainly need archbishop Müller’s pastoral guidance. The prefect’s intervention will be seen by his enemies (of whom I am NOT one) as a slap on the wrist for archbishop Nichols.

But surely, the opposite could be the case: it could be a lifeline. The archbishop is in an unenviable position. He has, as one priest said to me, not unsympathetically, painted himself into a corner.

He has accepted the assurances given to him by the Soho Masses Pastoral Council, that those attending them are chaste and faithful Catholics, and he has therefore given them firm support: it is difficult for him now to turn round and to say that he has been given good reason to withdraw that support: that would be an open accusation of deceit, one which he could not actually PROVE.

He may well still himself believe the assurances he has been given. It’s all a mess. But firm guidance from the prefect of the CDF would get him off the hook: he could then obey the Church’s clear instruction by withdrawing the support of the diocese, and, just as important for Catholics in that diocese, thereby remove a major source of friction with the Holy See.

Full Story: The new prefect of the CDF intends to take on the Soho Masses. I hope he does; that would get Archbishop Vincent off a very uncomfortable hook

Source: Catholic Herald
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