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Soho church ends gay and lesbian services

A central London church holds its final mass for gay and lesbian Catholics this evening.

The services at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Soho have been held fortnightly for the past six years.

Last month, the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said the services were not consistent with the church's central teaching on sexuality.

The moral teaching of the church is that the proper use of our sexual faculty is within a marriage, between a man and a woman, open to the procreation and nurturing of new human life.

– Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster. Speaking in January.

The move has "saddened" members of the congregation and gay rights groups.

Pastoral care for gay and lesbian Catholics will continue to be offered on Sunday evenings at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Farm Street in Mayfair.

Parents lose fight to stop two new Catholic schools

Parents lose their fight to stop two new Catholic schools coming to South West London.

Parents who were opposed to plans to open two Catholic schools in the London Borough of Richmond have lost their legal battle this afternoon.

They had taken their fight to court to try and stop the schools - claiming the council had broken rules by approving them.

But now the schools are set to open next year. Ria Chatterjee reports.

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'Council was entitled to approve the proposals'

The British Humanist Association and Mr Rodell have based their whole attempt to overthrow a local, democratically-made decision on the basis of one point of legislation.

Throughout this whole process we have taken legal advice and been advised by our own legal advisers that the decision to approve the two sets of proposals for the establishment of schools is fully within the law.

I am pleased that the Department for Education has confirmed its earlier advice that the Council was entitled to approve the proposals.

Every day this legal campaign continues, the Borough will incur legal costs which may not be fully recovered from the claimants.

It is also causing a great deal of uncertainty for a large number of parents across the borough who have already started applying for places for their children at either of the schools, schools which many of them have asked for, for years.

It is high time Mr Rodell showed some appreciation of the worries of those parents.

In the light of this development, he should now tell his national leaders in the BHA to stop using Richmond children as playthings in their ideological campaign to stop church schools.

Every penny spent on lawyers is money lost to the education of all young people in the borough .

The government's intervention has made clear it has had - and still does have - no intention whatsoever of stopping the creation of new faith schools.

Mr Rodell and the BHA should respect the outcome of local democratic debate and send their lawyers home.

– Cllr Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council

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