MIDDLESBROUGH, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - Faithful Catholics of the diocese of Middlesbrough, England have been seeing the "pride agenda" infiltrate the Church, and the bishop points to the Holy Father as his inspiration.
Bishop Terence Drainey, ordinary for the diocese, responded to the concerns of faithful Catholics on several occasions, stressing that the LGBT ministry has been established in keeping with various statements from Pope Francis.
He specifically cited Francis' call in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium to reach out to the "peripheries" of society.
Along with other dioceses, LGBT ministry has been steadily growing in the diocese of Middlesbrough. Last year it hosted a stall at a local homosexual "Pride" event. Its website and social media pages display a cross filled with the colors of the rainbow flag.
There has also been a growing number of "LGBT Masses" celebrated in Catholic dioceses around England.
A monthly LGBT+ Mass has taken place in the diocese of Middlesbrough since 2017 at the York Bar Convent, the oldest Catholic convent in England, founded in 1686. On its official diocesan page, the diocese promotes LGBT+ Ministry.
Section 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church upholds the bishop's statement with regard to those on the "peripheries":
[Those with same-sex attraction] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
However, while the Church recognizes that such an orientation or condition is not necessarily sinful, it is an "objective disorder." Section 2357 of the Catechism states:
[Homosexuality's] psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
Bishop Mark Davies of the nearby diocese of Shrewsbury recently weighed in on homosexuality and LGBT ministry: "I want to dispel any misleading impression that the Church will abandon her witness to the truth and change her teaching in the face of the hostile trends in public opinion or the destructive ideologies of our time."
"It would be the ultimate failure in pastoral care or charity to mislead people by encouraging them to remain in sin, or fail to call them to repentance and renewal," he insisted.
He added that marriage is an "exclusive and life-long union between one man and one woman."
As the Francis pontificate, which emphasizes the poor and marginalized, marches on, there has been little recent guidance from the top on what shape pastoral ministry ought to take with regard to those saddled with same-sex attraction. In the 1986 "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons," Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger, who served as prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prior to becoming Pope Benedict XVI, wrote:
We encourage the bishops, then, to provide pastoral care in full accord with the teaching of the Church for homosexual persons of their dioceses. No authentic pastoral program will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral. A truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.
The diocese of Middlesborough, as well as those across England and the world, have this letter as the Vatican's last substantive word on how LGBT pastoral care must be approached.