SAN JOSE — Homosexual Catholics will be offered a special weekly Mass by the Diocese of San Jose, starting April 1.
Bishop Pierre DuMaine also announced plans for expanded sacramental and spiritual activities as part of the diocese's new pastoral guidelines for the ministry of homosexuals.
"The guidelines accept, without elaboration, the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church on sexual morality, conscience and personal sin," said Father Eugene J. Boyle, spokesman for the diocese, which serves 355,000 Catholics. "It's a matter of supplying religious services for members of this (homosexual) group who want this service.
"This is not an attempt to segregate gay and lesbian Catholics out," he said. "Many will continue to go to their parishes, where, for the most part, they are accepted."
Mass at University
A chapter of the national Catholic gay group, Dignity, has been sponsoring Mass at the Campus Christian Center chapel associated with San Jose State University. Members of the group worked out an arrangement with church officials to allow the diocese to take over sponsorship of the services.
"It seems to be in complete conformity to what the Vatican asked for and what a few other dioceses in this country are doing," said Bill Ryan, spokesman for the U.S. Catholic Conference in Washington.
Despite church teachings against an active homosexual life style, dioceses in Chicago, San Francisco and a few other cities have held services for homosexuals and taken over sponsorship from Dignity after its 1987 declaration. The archdiocese of Los Angeles does not have weekly services specifically for homosexuals but welcomes them at regular Mass.
Homosexual orientation is being accepted, Boyle said, though Catholic teaching declares sexual activity outside marriage immoral.
In 1986, the Vatican issued a letter to bishops on the pastoral care of homosexuals and asked them to develop "appropriate forms" of care.
"No one's going to make a personal judgment on who comes to Mass or does not come," Boyle said. "We're offering the opportunity of religious services for gay and lesbian Catholics who want to partake of it. When it comes to matters of conscience, that's between themselves and God. We're not going to judge that."