LGBT Catholics Westminster is the official archdiocesan ministry for gender and sexual minorities in London, England. Their ministry has flourished for over a decade, and recently they experienced a big step forward from their diocese.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, joined LGBT Catholics and their families for Mass last Sunday, at the Jesuit church of the Immaculate Conception, where the group meets on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month. Cardinal Nichols has been a strong supporter of the group, even when faced with harsh criticism from local detractors. This was the first time that he joined the group for Eucharistic liturgy.
The church was packed with congregants and the cardinal thanked the parish and the LGBT group for journeying together in this pastoral outreach.
He used the occasion to sermonize on the idea that God has no favorites and that mercy must be foremost in Catholics’ minds and hearts. A summary of the homily provided by LGBT Catholics Westminster:
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.
You can read the text of the cardinal’s sermon by clicking here.
LGBT Catholics Westminster welcomed Cardinal Nichols, offering new musical pieces, including Live every day in my love, based on the day’s Gospel reading, and a new version of Psalm 97.
Nichols’ occurred near the anniversary of the group’s 1999 founding after “the homophobic-motivated bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub” in London’s Soho neighborhood, reports The Tablet. Nichols previously supported the Soho Masses, though asked them to integrate into the Jesuit-run Farm Street Church in 2013 as part of the Archdiocese of Westminster’s LGBT pastoral plan.
When the group moved to the new location, Cardinal Nichols paid a pastoral visit to welcome them to the parish.
Nichols was named to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis, in his first set of cardinal appointments at the beginning of 2014.
At the end of last year’s extraordinary synod, he told the press that he did not vote for the paragraphs addressing lesbian and gay topics because he felt that the important words of “welcome,” “respect,” and “value” were missing from them.
In the United States in the 1990’s, I recall two bishops presiding at Masses for the LGBT communities in their dioceses: Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester, NY, and Bishop Walter Sullivan of Richmond, Virginia. Both events attracted overflowing crowds.
Why aren’t more U.S. bishops following these examples? A little kindness can go a long way.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry