The Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, was principal celebrant of the first Mass hosted by the diocese for LGBT+ Catholics, their families and friends at Holy Name Church, Oxford Road, Manchester on Saturday 12 October. It is estimated that more than 300 people attended the Mass, including members of Quest, among them former Chairs, Ruby Almeida and Mark Dowd.
Mass attenders were greeted on arrival by protesters who eventually vacated the church. In a message to supporters, Gez Hodgson, Convenor of Quest in the North, said: “This is a significant event for many of us who are working towards making the Church’s pastoral outreach in our region – a living reality. Quiet planning has been taking place for some months now to facilitate this taking place.”
The origins of this development go back to a meeting between the then Chair of Quest, Ruby Almeida, Gez Hodgson, Fr Paul Daly and Bishop John Arnold in September 2017 when the possibility of closer links with the LGBT+ Catholic community and the Salford Diocese were discussed. Bishop John was very supportive of the idea and so it has proved in subsequent contacts with his representatives.
Gez added, “This venture is highly symbolic as it marks a public statement that words and actions should be in sync with one another. It also should be seen in the context of similar ventures in the dioceses of Middlesbrough, Westminster, Nottingham, and lately Clifton.