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A mass in London offers pastoral care for gay Roman Catholics, but under an agreement between church officials and parishioners, it does not challenge church teaching that homosexual acts are wrong.
According to BBC Radio 4, as Pope Benedict XVI prepares to visit the United Kingdom next week, the "gay mass" at Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory in London's West End is the only one of its kind in the U.K. It takes place with the blessing of senior clergy and an agreement from parishioners not to challenge church doctrine.
"The Church hierarchy wanted assurances that the services would not become a platform for challenging Catholic teaching," reports BBC Radio 4. "So one of the 'underlying principles' of staging the service is: 'Information about the Mass will be sensitive to the reality that the celebration of Mass is not to be used for campaigning for any change to, or ambiguity about, the Church's teaching.'"
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, suggested the church would be open to similar services in other parts of the country upon request. Some traditionalists have protested the mass and asked the archdiocese of Westminster to stop it.