"You can't care about absolutely everything unless you're an adolescent or a Guardian reader" a friend once said to me, and I've always thought that was fair enough. There is only so much saeva indignatio to go around. So I must confess that I have allowed the story of the "Soho Gay Masses" and their Leicester equivalents to pass me by - I haven't had enough time or interest to get interested.
A posting here by Reluctant Sinner started me thinking, though: not so much about the Masses themselves, or about same sex atraction, as about Archbishop Longley.
In an interview in The Tablet, Archbishop Longley was asked whether “those protesting (i.e. loyal and orthodox Catholics) are making assumptions” about the homosexuals attending the "Soho Masses". He replied,
“I would assume that is the case, and so it isn’t for any of us to make those judgments which, in conscience, people make before God and also within the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of reconciliation assisted by the priests and other pastors within the Church.”
“The Church does not, as it were, have a moral means-testing of people before they come to receive the sacraments and it is very easy to jump to and come to the wrong conclusions about people when you don’t know them."
Now, part of the point of Reluctant Sinner's post is that he does know these people and that he is jumping to the right conclusions, but let that pass. It is the Archbishop who seems to me to have gone right off the rails.
There are lots of Catholic groups and societies, and they have special Masses from time to time, but I can't think of any other Catholic group membership of which allows members to trump the obligation of members to belong to and support their own parish both financially and by their attendance at Mass in the parish. I also can't think of any other Catholic group which is allowed to self-define on the basis of an inclination to a form of sexual activity.
It was hearing Archbishop Longley's novel interpretation of the "development of doctrine" - his idea seemed to be that as the world and public opinion changes, so too does doctrine - that I realised that what he was defending was (it seems to me) to be profoundly unCatholic: that where originally I had thought it to have simnply been a pastoral failure, a failure of oversight in finding out about the state of grace of people at a Mass where it was objectively likely that some of those approaching Communion shouldn't be; in fact what the Archbishop is defending is that the Church should be at least in dialogue with at least the World and the Flesh.
Add this to what Fr Dwight wrote recently about the Catholic Church in England and Wales and about what he had been told about its agenda, and you can see the pickle we are in.
Perhaps we ought to start writing now to our Nuncio-designate. Helpfully, his address can be found here.