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Gay group is dropped from Catholic directory.

Quest, the British Roman Catholic organization for homosexuals, has been dropped from this year's official Roman Catholic Directory for England and Wales because its constitution is seen as being at odds with the church teaching that gay sexual activity, is always wrong.

The group has been among the Catholic organizations listed in the directory since 1992.

In the 1998 directory it describes itself as "providing support for homosexual people chiefly through local groups meeting for worship, discussion and social activity," adding that its purpose is "to proclaim the gospel so as to sustain and increase Christian faith among homosexual men and women."

The difficulty has arisen over its constitution, which talks of bringing together "lay men and women who are seeking ways of reconciling with the full expression of their homosexual natures in loving Christian relationships."

Following six years of dialogue between Quest officials and Cardinal Basil Hume, archbishop of Westminster, an amendment to the constitution was put forward last July at a special meeting of the organization to make the last phrase read "loving and chaste Christian relationships."

But the group's membership -- apparently by a small majority -- rejected the amendment.

In a letter to Charles Keal, Quest's chairman, Hume said the single point at issue was that if an organization was listed with ecclesiastical approval, "the assumption must be that it accepts the church's teaching set out in a manner that is in no way ambiguous."

Hume said he saw the purpose of the rejected amendment as encouraging gays "to live chaste lives in accordance with the church's teaching." Its rejection has raised concern about the direction Quest is now taking.

"It is one thing for the church officially to recognize a support group for Catholic homosexual men and women, struggling, as we all do, to live up to the demands of our shared Christian vocation," Hume said in his letter. But he said it now seems clear that an explicit part of Quest's agenda is "to encourage and recognize loving same-sex partnerships," which the church cannot accept. In response, Quest noted the offending phrase had been in its constitution since it was founded in 1973. The decision to exclude Quest from the directory, "can only be seen as a hardening of the cardinal's position towards dialogue with lesbian and gay people."
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Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Mar 12, 1999
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