On one side sat the existing congregation of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Mayfair, which notoriously refused entry to Oscar Wilde 116 years ago, following his release from jail on charges of sodomy and gross indecency.
On the other, members of the Catholic church’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender [LGBT] community, who had been diverted to the Farm Street church for their first “inclusive” Mass after the closure of their own “gay Mass” church in Soho last month.
The final Soho Mass attracted more than 200 believers. After a slow start yesterday evening, the Mayfair church was also full by the start of the service. The priest welcomed the LGBT newcomers and said the theme of the Mass would be reconciliation.
But while there was some mingling between the two halves of the congregation, the differences in age and gender (gay men formed the majority of the LGBT crowd) were noticeable.
Ciaran Vaughn who has attended Soho Masses several times said: “At first I was a bit perturbed, a bit disappointed – I wondered what was the real reason behind the move. Was it pressure from Rome? But this is a beautiful church and the Jesuits are lovely so I’m pleased to be here.”