Canceled Mass disappoints

By Ben Wolford
Globe Correspondent / June 12, 2011

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A decision by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston to stop a Mass celebrating Gay Pride month next weekend was met with a common reaction at yesterday’s pride parade: “It doesn’t surprise me.’’

St. Cecilia Parish in the Back Bay recently announced in its bulletin that it was planning a “liturgy to commemorate Boston Pride 2011’’ on June 19. But on Friday, the archdiocese announced that it was canceling the Mass.

The order, from senior officials of the archdiocese, satisfied some local Catholic bloggers who criticized what they saw as a parish condoning homosexuality. It also outraged some gay Catholics.

At the parade, news of the decision frustrated some who marched in the parade or watched it, including Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, widely known for sparking controversy as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.

“I think that the parish was trying to do the right thing, and it was a shame to see the hierarchy shut it down,’’ said Robinson, who marched in the parade.

Robinson has publicly advocated for gay marriage rights in New Hampshire and last year announced he would step down in 2013. He has called for a reading of the Bible that is consistent with the theme of the proposed St. Cecilia Mass, “All Are Welcome,’’ and said as much yesterday.

“The simple message of the Gospel is that God loves all people. Anything that’s in contradiction to that is ungodly,’’ Robinson said.

Others said decisions such as the one made by the Boston Archdiocese are only discouraging people from attending church.

“One of the reasons I didn’t come out until I was older was because of that Catholic guilt,’’ said Michael Palma, 55, who lives in Chelsea and marched in the parade.

Palma was raised Catholic, attended Mass regularly, got married, and raised children as Catholic before leaving the church 20 years ago. Only at age 50 did he come out. “It’s too bad that the Catholic Church can’t look inside its own doors,’’ he said.

Other former Catholics shared that view. So did members of the Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Franklin, who had a tent on City Hall Plaza. The priests of the church consider themselves Catholics but are not under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church.

“It doesn’t surprise me,’’ said the Rev. Robert Johnnene about the Mass at St. Cecilia. “Rome is doing everything in their power to discourage the GLBT community. Christ welcomed everybody. The Roman Church is driving people away.’’

Ben Wolford can be reached at