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Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Administrator, Fr Greg Barker, has welcomed news that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference elected Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB as president of the Conference and re-elected Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP vice-president.
The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle made history when it celebrated its first-ever LGBTIQ Mass, on 4 March 2022.
The Mass is part of the Diocese’s response to the call of the Diocesan Synod and of the National Plenary Council. During the discernment process, it became clear that many Hunter Catholics wanted the Church to be more openly inclusive of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) community.
Organised by the Diocese’s LGBTIQ Catholic Forum established in 2020 with the encouragement of the late Bishop Bill Wright, the LGBTIQ Mass was the same as a regular Mass but with prayers and scriptures addressing the needs of LGBTIQ people and their families.
The Forum’s secretary, Lawrie Hallinan, said the LGBTIQ Mass is an opportunity to celebrate that LGBTIQ people are created in God’s image and are welcome in the Catholic Church.
Diocesan Administrator, Fr Greg Barker, led the Mass held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Tighes Hill. In his Homily, Fr Greg referenced Pope Francis’ recent message to Catholic families, which encouraged parents who “see different sexual orientations in their children” to accompany, not condemn their children.
Greg Byrne forms part of the Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Forster-Tuncurry and drove two hours to attend the service, which was of significance to his family.
“I am pleased to see the Catholic Church welcoming homosexual people into the worshiping community,” said Greg, who is also a member of PFLAG, the first and largest organisation for LGBTIQ+ and their parents, families and allies. “These people have felt very unwelcome in past years.”
In the lead up to the Mass, James Turner, a parishioner in the Diocese of Maitland- Newcastle now in his seventies, said he wished there had been a LGBTIQ Mass when he was a young man.
“It would have saved me years of fear and self loathing if my Church had clearly said, “God made you as you are, God loves you and we see you as a valued member of God’s Church”