By Malissa Rogers
The Catholic Church in England has taken another step towards mandating their conservative views on homosexuality, after the Archbishop of Westminster canceled special LGBT-friendly masses that had been held in London for the past six years.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, canceled the "Soho masses" because he said the church would no longer offer special services to churchgoers who were living in disagreement with the church's laws on homosexuality, according to the Huffington Post.
The Catholic leader released a statement in which he firmly reiterated the church's stance against same-sex marriage, saying that "proper use of our sexual faculty is within a marriage, between a man and a woman, open to the procreation and nurturing of new human life."
The “Soho masses” attempted to "extend the pastoral care of the church to those who experience same-sex attraction in an effort to carry out Jesus' teaching of loving thy neighbor," according to the statement made by Nichols. However, while Britain's laws have begun to progress in the direction of accommodating gay and lesbian marriage, "the principles of the pastoral care to be offered by the church and the church’s teaching on matters of sexual morality have not.”
The services had been held since 2007 at Our Lady of the Assumption, an 18th-century church centered in London’s gay neighborhood. The masses had prior approval of the Vatican’s top doctrinal official, a former archbishop of San Francisco, Cardinal William Levada. However, he has since been replaced by the more conservative Archbishop Gerhard Mueller.
Regardless of the church’s feelings towards gay rights, British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he guarantees the country will legalize same-sex marriage by 2015, the Telegraph reports. However, the Guardian reported that Nichols has vowed to stop Cameron’s pledge and has criticized the British government for their progressive stance on marriage equality.
Ruth Hunt, director of public affairs for LGBT rights charity Stonewall, expressed her disappointment with the Catholic Church’s decision.
Hunt, who is Catholic, told the BBC, "Given what's happened over Christmas, where there were vitriolic and mean messages from the pulpit about same-sex marriage, there has never been a more important time to provide a safe space for gay Catholics to pray."