All are now welcome, at least on the sidewalk

Sometimes a sad story takes an unexpected turn and ends up offering hope and compels thoughtful reflection. I posted yesterday about a parish in Boston that had planned to offer a Mass with a theme of "All Are Welcome," that was scrapped because of outspoken conservative bloggers. Today's Boston Globe follows up, reporting that the pastor preached a message of radical love and inclusivity at this weekend's Masses, even with a bishop in attendance:

During the first Mass since the Archdiocese of Boston canceled one planned for next weekend in support of St. Cecilia’s gay and lesbian churchgoers, the Rev. John J. Unni preached a fiery message of unconditional love and what he called “acceptance of all.’’


“You are welcome here, gay or straight, rich or poor, young or old, black or white,’’ Unni said as he paced up and down the center aisle. “Here, you all can say, ‘I can worship the God who made me as I am.’ ’’

Unni finished his homilies at the 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses to thunderous applause.

The parish, which has a large gay and lesbian population that once worshipped at a now closed Jesuit center, will instead host a lay-run sidewalk prayer service, which appears to have the support of the archdiocese. 

Read the full article here.
Michael J. O'Loughlin


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PJ Johnston
7 years 7 months ago
Grace, style, and the Gospel - who could ask for anything more?
Charles Tirrell
7 years 7 months ago
Bigots are not born bigots. Brett, you can change. And there is counseling
available for those who wish to change.
david power
7 years 7 months ago

You truly nailed it.
Imagine if all of the other groups that make up the Church were to demand to be made welcome.
The problem that people have is not with the pastoral practise of the Church but of the theology.
The Church teaches that homosexual acts are sinful and also that many heterosexual ones are too.Heterosexuals don't seek an overturning of church teaching ,they don't make themselves into distinct groups. We come in all shapes and sizes .Some of us are liars ,alcoholics,drug addicts ,leches,proud, etc. We know that the Church teaches our behaviour is wrong and that we are still welcome there.
Nobody in a church cares about the sexuality of another except homosexuals.
To be made welcome can be translated that sodomy  is no longer a sinful act.That is the final argument.The elephant in the room.It is no doubt difficult for homosexuals to be catholic but to say that they are not made feel welcome is nonsense.If I were to ask the Church to accept me as I am, and it did, I would know it was a phoney Church. The message of Jesus is of conversion not just for some of us but for all of us.
I have three friends who have same-sex attractions and they are all a lot more comfortable with the Church than I am.They don't bring any agenda to their faith in Christ.None of them is defined by their sexuality and their characters are so wonderful that it is rare that I remember their situation.       
7 years 7 months ago
On the surface, I don't really have a problem with the Mass, or the message that you can worship God as you are (as long as we recognize, of course, that we worship as fallen human beings that need worship to change us; otherwise I fear we worship an image of ourselves).

But I am deeply troubled by the creeping "Gay Rights" language and tactics into Catholic liturgy and ecclesiology.  LGBT advocates, being shunted by their fellow citizens at the ballot box in large numbers, have resorted to labelling any assertion contradictory to theirs as bigotry, homophobia and hatred, a patently anti-liberal argument if ever I've heard one.

I'm sensitive to this in light of the ongoing legal battle by Catholic Charitiies challeneging the Illinois civil union law with respect to adoptions and gay couples.  When I, as a lawyer, discussed the LEGAL argument under the First Amendment that Catholic Charities was making (making it clear I was not making statements about the merits of the case), I was rebuffed by a fellow Catholic no less, who asserted that Catholic Charities was being "un-christian and bigoted."  Catholic Charities for goodness sake!  WHen I responded that I found it curious that people who suffer at the hands of state discrimination are fine with state discrimination against people who disagree with them, it was implied that I was a bigot.  This follows the debacle at King and Spalding where they were bullied into dropping their legal representation defending DOMA (an act passed by large bipartisan majorities), contrary to their clear professional obligation.

I'm sympathetic to some of the legal claims made by LGBT advocates, and we as a Church need to find a way to incorporate such persons into our ecclesial life.  But the increasing use of bullying and labelling people who hold valid alternative points of view (legal and otherwise) is becoming increasingly ugly and shrill; it would be a shame to see it arise in a CAtholic forum.
Winifred Holloway
7 years 7 months ago
re David Power's comment:  In the list of sins you cite like lying and pride, the sinners are just that- sinners.  They are not labeled intrinsically disordered as in morally handicapped, somewhere outside the human family and unworthy of a full loving realtionship.  The behaviors you cite - drug dependency and lechery are destructive to the  person practicing them and possibly to others who they may harm or exploit.   Any sexual relationship, of course, can be both harmful, exploitive,and dishonest but these quite obviously are not limited to gays.
david power
7 years 7 months ago

I understand your point but I think that you may not have it right.
The Church does not teach that homosexuals are intrinsically evil nor do they teach that anybody is intrinsically evil.They teach that homosexual acts are evil.
The Church does not define them as gay or others as straight ,to do so would be to handicap people.It is only homosexuals who see themselves in such a reductive way. 
Again the point is as I said with the theology and not with the pastoral practise.If the Church was to be as nice as pie and to urge patience and mercy and basically treat them with more mercy than God could muster there would still be a problem.The homosexual lobby would ask "Do we have the green for go on this?"and the Church would respond "No".
They ,rightly or wrongly, want a change in church teaching.Do you agree that this is what is at stake?
"Inclusive" ,could somebody define this ?Is it more biscuits and coffee after Mass or is it a blind eye turned to reality?If the Church goes for the latter they will show themselves to be better than all of the rest.Is the template the Anglican model?To just leave it at "inclusion" is dishonest. 
So the question is "Do they want the Church to change it's teaching?".If they answer yes ,good for them and I hope they get what they want.If they answer no,well then we have a connundrum.If they give the usual no answer it has to be interpreted as a back-door approach to shifting the lines in the sand.  
david power
7 years 7 months ago

When  we "usual posters" have finished with the gays you can be sure that we will be heading bats in hands to the others :).
You are right in what you say that irregular marriages are far more common than the whole gay situation.Albino marriages are probably  more common reality than anything gay but you would never know that reading America.For some strange reason the only thing that matters is gays.Minorities?Latinos,Blacks, chinese puh-leese.Boooring.Lets just post the gay thing.
Sexual irregularity ?Prostitution,adultery,sex before marriage ?Booooring!Lets just post the gay thing.
When was the last time a blogger here posted anything to do with heterosexual love?What is the ratio between homosexual to heterosexual articles 10-1,20-1?
I agree with the rest of your post and think that bishops should take a lot more interest in such things.
BTW,most of my family are in irregular situations.My sister who is getting married in August has been living with her boyfriend for over a year . It is what it is.
7 years 7 months ago
If those heterosexuals who are attracted to contraceptive sex banded together and wanted a special mass "welcoming" them with open arms the bishops would rightly say that this would be misleading.  Certainly the Church welcomes heterosexuals who contracept where they are and the Church welcomes those with same-sex attraction where they are.  Christ meets us where we are BUT he leads us from where we are to the Truth, the Way and the Life.  It is a hard Way to follow but His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Jesus, I trust in you; Jesus, I trust in you; Jesus, I trust in you.
ed gleason
7 years 7 months ago
Joe, you say "If those heterosexuals who are attracted to contraceptive sex banded together"
Joe, they  have a number of Masses every Sunday ..You do know that  about 90% ignore Humanae Vitae? it's in the papers almost all the time..
Winifred Holloway
7 years 7 months ago
There is no indication in the Boston Globe article that non-gay parishioners are being forced out.  It seems to me that if we say"all are welome" but do not specify who "all" are we have created another code phrase.  You are welcome if you hide, because what you are is shameful and you should play pretend so as not to cause discomfort among congregants with the majority sexual identification.  Really, is there not enough suffering in the world as in war, poverty and disease - that we must add to it by marginalizing our brothers and sisters in Christ?  And at the Eucharist at that.
ed gleason
7 years 7 months ago
I suggest that there are many times more people in your and my parish that are in 'irregular' marriages than there are attending gays. These heterosexuals in these 'irregular'  marriages have no intention of changing their status either. Why don't you usual posters 'go after' them? too many? too liken to yourselves? Do you or anyone else object to their adoption options? By the way, Catholic sacramental marriages dropped 50% in the last decade and a half while Catholic population grew about 15%.
Bishops have closed and de-funded marriage /family life offices while this decline has happened. Check the beam in the eye of your own diocese.   
7 years 7 months ago
The Catholic Action League and the archdiocese sound like the Pharisees in Mark 2: 13-17, wondering why Jesus was consorting with all these sinners. 

The latest local coverage of St. Cecilia's:
 Certainly consistent with the action a year ago of a Catholic elementary school in Hingham MA denying readmission to the child of gay parents.  There it was the pastor doing the rejecting and the archdiocese saying it was not general policy - but the child was not subsequently admitted in spite of O'Malley's kind words.  And in Denver both the pastor and bishop guarded the schoolhouse door against the child of gay parents.

But they keep pedophile priests on the payroll.  And Law sits in splendor in Rome, and McCormack presides over my diocese.  The hypocites and whited sepuchers seem to be winning.
7 years 7 months ago

I agree with your numbers.  But the laity who contracept don't wear rainbow shirts and sashes at mass to protest the teaching.  In fact the majority are ignorant of the teaching and/or the reason behind the teaching because priests and leaders like those at America Magazine are failing in their teaching authority.

Those with same-sex attraction are also welcome at Mass just like those who contracept.  But we don't have special Pro-contraception and Pro-gay Mass.  To reduce the the Sacrifice of the Mass where Jesus gives his body into a protest so that we can do as we please with our body is rather insulting to the Lord.
joseph o'leary
7 years 7 months ago
I agree with Mr. Johnston (first comment) in that neither the Bishop nor Fr. Unni and his parishioners could have asked (or given) anything more to resolve the conflict.

The issue was how to welcome everyone (no exceptions) and remain faithful to Church teaching (whether we agree with it or not). There was no ''win-win'' outcome.

The Bishop, by his attendance during Fr. Unni's Mass and homily at that particular parish after the controversy, shows the Church does indeed espouse inclusion and unconditional love toward the GLBT community. The pastor was not gagged, the parish not closed. I think the Bishop deserves some credit here. He might have even agreed with Fr. Unni's message. And it didn't sound like he objected to anyone, gay or straight, taking communion during the service.

For the parish, its decision to have a prayer service as an alternative to the Mass demonstrates that it is committed to serving everyone, and not looking for a showdown to further an agenda. 

It was an imperfect compromise to one incident, but it shows hope that an eventual resolution will be reached in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding - something that is sadly lacking, more than occasionally, in our blog commentaries.

Thank you, Mr. O'Loughlin, for bringing this story to my attention.

Katherine Jordan
7 years 7 months ago

Winifred Holloway comments with sarcasm to describe how it sometimes feels for gay Catholics:
''You are welcome if you hide, because what you are is shameful and you should play pretend so as not to cause discomfort among congregants with the majority sexual identification.''
So true, Winifred!
I am a celibate lesbian and Catholic. Even though I don't commit the mortal sin we are talking about here, I still feel I have to hide and pretend. I have a female partner and we are both celibate and committed to the Faith but we need each other for companionship, support and affection. I am still struggling to get out there and socialize with others in the parish because: how do I be myself (not hide that I am gay and in a partnership) AND show that I am a devout Catholic without having to delve into my life story and debates about homosexuality? How do I just talk to people and be myself when I know they are going to assume I am living in mortal sin and taking communion at the same time?
I really want more Catholics to understand that ''homosexuality'' in and of itself is not a sin. The sex outside of marriage may be a sin but having those attractions and having a same-sex companion is not. And all SHOULD feel welcome. So many people tip-toe around the issue and basically try to keep ''the gay ones'' hidden so as not to create more controversy. But open communication and honesty is needed. People NEED to share their struggles as gay/lesbian/transgender Catholics openly and others need to listen. I'm trying to promote this kind of communication with a blog I just started with a friend. It's  We just started it so there's not a ton of posts yet. But I want to support that open communication and discussion.
david power
7 years 7 months ago

Good luck with your blog.
Katherine Jordan
7 years 7 months ago
Thank you.
In response to David Smith (comment 20), if I understand your point correctly you are saying that there are some things we keep to ourselves (puling in the horns of our individuality) for the sake of community space (allowing it to be open for all not just for one group, and helping people feel comfortable). I think you do have a point in the sense that the gay community should not "take over" community space (am I understanding you correctly?). However, there is a danger to what you might be implying. For a gay or lesbian person in church, to keep everyone "comfortable" might mean pretending, lying or hiding. I'm not suggesting people making a huge display of it. But if for example, I want to be open about the fact that I have a partner (we are celibate) and I love her and share my life with her, anyone who feels uncomfortable with that needs to ask themselves whether their discomfort is grounded in anything real. No one should feel uncomfortable that the person sitting next to them is gay. It's not a sin to be gay. What we really need is more people reaching out to us. Church members should consider the incredible burden some homosexuals are carrying, the added temptations, the fear, and the rejection some face. How many souls are lost because they did not find the support and love they needed and thus left the Church?
Jim McCrea
7 years 7 months ago
As I read the continual narrow-mindedness about L&G folks that constantly appears on this website, I seriously question why any gay man or lesbian would want to attend a Catholic church.  I am lucky to have one that is extremely supportive of me, my partner, and friends.  Otherwise I would dust my sandals of Unholy Unmother the Former Church in a New York minute.

I no longer consider myself a Roman Catholic or an American Catholic.  I am a Most Holy Redeemer Catholic and that is good enough for me.

The rest of you can have your smaller, purer remnant church.
Seth Jacobson
7 years 7 months ago
Matthew 5:10-12 (NKJV) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

God bless our LGBT brothers and sisters. And God bless LGBT ALLIES in Christ. Stay strong!!!


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