O’Malley blogs on delayed Mass for gays

By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / June 18, 2011

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Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley condemned bigotry against homosexuals in a blog posting last night while reiterating the Catholic Church’s stand on the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

The posting was made a little more than a week after controversy erupted when a Mass to welcome gay parishioners at St. Cecilia Church on Belvidere Street in Boston was postponed.

“Some say that the Catholic Church hates people with same-sex attractions,’’ O’Malley wrote on his blog. “This is not true. In fact, if there are any members of the church who hate people because of their sexual orientation, they need to go to confession.’’

O’Malley’s spokesman, Terrence C. Donilon, said last night that the prelate wrote the posting in response to the heated rhetoric that followed St. Cecilia’s announced plans to celebrate a Mass tomorrow themed “All Are Welcome,’’ which the church billed as “a liturgy to commemorate Boston Pride 2011,’’ an annual celebration of the city’s gay, lesbian, and transgendered community.

The announcement prompted an outcry from conservative Catholic bloggers, and Donilon said last week that the Mass would be postponed because the bulletin gave the “unintended impression’’ that the parish supports Pride activities.

The postponement, in turn, angered Catholics who support gay rights. Donilon said last night that O’Malley’s blog post was meant to “cut through the haze’’ of the highly charged debate that has ensued.

“We do not want [homosexuals] to be the object of discrimination or violence,’’ wrote O’Malley.

He also said that while the church does not reject anyone, it “opposes changing the definition of marriage, because to do so would weaken one of the oldest and most sacred institutions of human society.’’

Marianne Duddy-Burke — executive director of DignityUSA, a Boston-based group that advocates for the participation of gays in Catholic life, said last night by phone that O’Malley’s post did little to heal the pain caused by the postponement of the Mass.

“It was important to the [St. Cecilia parishioners] to locate this Mass within the context of Pride Month, because it’s a time when LGBT people are thinking about various aspects of their lives and how open they can be and how affirmed they feel.’’

She said the original bulletin announcing the Mass merely stated that gays and lesbians are welcome at the parish and said nothing about homosexual relationships.

O’Malley’s posting also drew criticism last night from C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, which opposes same-sex marriage.

He said by phone that while O’Malley was correct in writing that bigotry against homosexuals is wrong, the cardinal may give too much credence to the notion that hatred of the gay community is widespread in the Catholic Church.

“It needs to be said that much of the bigotry and the malice here is coming from the [pro-gay rights] side,’’ Doyle said. “We’re told [by gay activists] that we’re bigots and haters and homophobes and that we’re suffering from ignorance and prejudice.’’

He pointed out that his group supports antipoverty efforts and the doctrine of just wars, among other Catholic teachings generally regarded as more liberal.

As for the “All Are Welcome’’ liturgy, Donilon said the parish is still working on an alternate date.

Parishioners said last week that they plan to hold a sidewalk prayer service tomorrow night outside the parish in lieu of the originally scheduled liturgy.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino plans to attend the service, according to his public schedule released yesterday by his staff.

Travis Andersen can be reached at

Correction: Because of a reporting error, this article about a canceled Mass welcoming gay parishioners at a Catholic church in Boston misquoted activist Marianne Duddy-Burke on why it was important to hold the liturgy during Gay Pride Month. Duddy-Burke, of DignityUSA, said it was important to the city’s gay, lesbian, and transgendered community that the Mass be held during that month.