LGBT Catholics displaced by cancelled Soho masses welcomed into Jesuit church

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

LGBT Catholics of the Soho Masses who were displaced by the discontinuation of LGBT specific services in Soho began what was described as their “new phase” of worship, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday.

The Jesuit church, based on Farm Street, Mayfair, and which famously turned away Oscar Wilde after he was convicted of gross indecency and sodomy, was announced recently as having opened its doors to those displaced by the stopping of the services.

In January, The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, who leads the Catholic Church in England and Wales, announced that masses throughout Soho in central London, aimed specifically at LGBT people, were to end.

He said the masses held at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Soho, central London, were out of line with the church’s main teaching on sexuality.

A statement from the Soho Masses read: “Mass was concelebrated by the Parish Priest, the Reverend Father Andrew Cameron Mowat SJ, who extended a very warm welcome to his new LGBT parishioners, and by Monsignor Seamus O’Boyle, Vicar General of Westminster, who continues the excellent ministry he led at Warwick Street in his post as Diocesan Liaison to the LGBT Catholic community.”

Joe Stanley, the Chair of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council commended members of the masses, which had grown from 250 to 300 people, for integrating into the parish on Farm Street.

He, and other members of the masses, also thanked the Jesuit community for the “generous welcome” which was extended to them.

The statement read: “So many members of our community have, in spite of their doubts and fears, made enormous efforts to make this transition work, and although many details remain to be discussed with the parish, their work has borne fruit – I was especially struck by the comment that Fr Andrew, the Parish Priest, that he was very moved by the strong sense of devotion which he had seen during Mass.

“We’re enormously grateful for the welcome we’ve received, and are really looking forward to contributing as much as we can to the life of our new parish. And of course we want to ensure that Westminster Diocese continues to lead the Catholic world in its acknowledgement of the needs of, and care for, LGBT Catholics”.

At a question and answer session run by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, several attendees noted the “historic nature of the meeting”, as a senior Catholic bishop engaged “openly, frankly and respectfully with the LGBT Catholics as a community”.

“We are very grateful to the Archbishop for this gesture and for the care and concern he demonstrated,” the statement read.