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"All are welcome" | Globe Editorial

The Mass that wasn’t

During Mass in St. Cecilia Parish on Sunday, the Reverend John Unni makes a statement about the decision of the Boston Archdiocese. During Mass in St. Cecilia Parish on Sunday, the Reverend John Unni makes a statement about the decision of the Boston Archdiocese. (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)
June 14, 2011

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THE CATHOLIC Church’s teachings on homosexuality are more nuanced than many Americans realize. Similar to sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman, gay sex is deemed sinful. But homosexuals, as individuals, remain “called to holiness’’ and “precious in God’s eye,’’ in the words of Cardinal Sean O’Malley. Those nuances often get lost in the fury of the culture wars. So while heterosexuals who aren’t strictly observing the church’s teachings — whether on divorce, remarriage, or sex outside marriage — don’t feel ostracized, gays often do.

That’s why it seemed like an eminently generous gesture when St. Cecilia Parish in the Back Bay planned a service for June 19 that would commemorate Gay Pride Month. The church’s announcement speaks eloquently to its benign intent: “The theme of the liturgy, ‘All Are Welcome,’ honors Christ’s message of hope and salvation to all people. We will also celebrate the diverse community that finds its home at St. Cecilia.’’ The service seemed likely to stress aspects of church teaching that would resonate for a parish with a number of gay members.

Still, even that expression of goodwill was too direct an endorsement of homosexuality for the Boston Archdiocese, which ordered the parish to amend its plans. O’Malley, who has sought to make the church welcoming in other ways, should have let St. Cecilia’s go forward. No one would have had the misimpression that the church was endorsing gay sex, but the inclusive service would have been an important acknowledgement that gay Catholics exist.