Online Resources for the Study of
A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE ON SAME-SEX ATTRACTION
"There is no safer place for a man or a woman who has same-sex attraction
than in the arms of our Mother, the Church."
~Fr. Michael Schmitz (in From Love, For Love, By Love)
Yellow *** indicates good starting points
INTRODUCTION: CHARITY IN TRUTH
Worth pondering, as we consider how the Church may best love those with same-sex attraction, is a common theme of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, that of charity in truth (Caritas in Veritate, esp. paragraphs 1-4 and 78-79) . Unfortunately it appears that most Catholics' ways of relating to and speaking of those with homosexual inclinations fall at one extreme or another, without successfully integrating both love and truth.
Some would insist that, toward this particular population, love means complete acceptance. This well-meaning, yet mistaken, form of compassion tends toward a full acceptance of not only the person's limiting "gay" identity, but also same-sex sexual activity and same-sex marriage. Ultimately such "love" requires a rejection of both natural law and the teaching of Christ through His Church.
At the other extreme there are those who self-righteously pronounce only the most difficult aspects of Church teaching on this matter in a condemnatory manner, as if it were the worst of all sins. Many speak of and relate to those with same-sex attraction with harsh words, presumptuous assumptions, avoidance, and, yes, at times, even fear. They fail to have compassion for the suffering and isolation of those who find themselves (no one chooses this) with a homosexual inclination. Their truth delivered without charity only alienates and is incapable of wooing the soul.
Pope Benedict Emeritus called us to refuse to compromise on either truth or love. He reminds us that love without truth is not really love: "Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality" Caritas in Veritate, par. 3). "To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity, in fact, 'rejoices in the truth" (Caritas in Veritate, par. 1). Within the context of his role as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, specifically with regard to homosexuality, that "departure from the Church's teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care, is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral" (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, par. 15).
It is clear, then, that we need to consider how to relate to those with same-sex attraction with an abundance of both truth and love. At times, in the eyes of those who identify themselves as "gay", Catholic truth appears to be incompatible with the kind of love they want from us. But we must continue to offer them the hope we have in Christ and in His Church, because real Truth and real Love cannot contradict one another. They both emanate from the heart and mind of God, who is "Eternal Love and Absolute Truth"(Caritas In Veritate, par.1).
Let us consider, in the words of Archbishop Carlson, how to love as Christ loves:
Many people today challenge the Gospel and the teachings of the Church because they think that we should just love people instead of drawing moral lines—in short, that we should be "tolerant." In that context we can ask a simple question: Was Jesus tolerant? The Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery is a stunning example of how Jesus wasn't "tolerant" as people today understand that term. To be sure, Jesus protected the woman caught in adultery—he did not advocate or allow any kind of violence against her. And, to be sure, Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery—he is love incarnate, and we have to imagine that he looked on her with a love that pierced her to the heart. But he did not condone her sin; he did not "tolerate" her behavior in non-judgmental silence; he did not leave it to her to define her "own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." Instead, he told her "Go, and sin no more." Because he loved her, he gave her the dignity of naming her sin for what it was. He treated her as someone who could rise above sin; he treated her as someone who wanted to rise above sin; he treated her as someone for whom he wanted more. Yes, Jesus loved people. And because he loved people, he drew moral lines. And because he drew moral lines he incurred the wrath of the powerful. Jesus was willing to suffer the consequences of love - are we? (Carlson "Witness to the New Evangelization")
Pope Francis homily on Divine Mercy Sunday in April of 2013 offers a beautiful vision for all of us as sinners, expounding on how Jesus and the Father offer patient love and mercy to us, no matter how far we’ve strayed, always waiting with open arms for us to turn back to Him, where under His loving gaze we can be freed and transformed. As we meditate on God’s patient mercy with us we also see a model for how we are called to love others, including those who carry the cross of same-sex attraction:
Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in his patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to his house, to dwell in his loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments. We will feel his wonderful tenderness, we will feel his embrace, and we too will become more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love. (Pope Francis homily, 4/7/13)
The best way to fully appreciate the integrity of the teachings of the Catholic Church on same-sex attraction is to begin with a study of the Church's understanding of sexuality in the context of a fuller understanding of human person, the meaning of the body, and, ultimately, the meaning of love as a gift of self. A study of the writings and talks of Blessed John Paul II on this topic is invaluable.
*** Online Resources for the Online Study of Human Sexuality A full page of links to church teaching, articles, and podcasts.
*** Fr. Mike Schmitz. From Love, For Love, By Love: A Deeper Understanding of Contraception, Same Sex Attraction, and Authentic Love CD version Download mp3 version Similar content on YouTube : The Theology of the Body. Incorporates the broader meaning of the person, the body, friendship, love, and of sexuality into a discussion of same-sex attraction. (Purchase from Lighthouse Media)
J. Budziszewski. Designed for Sex: What We Lose When We Forget What Sex is For Touchstone Magazine.
(For foundational documents, see Humanae Vitae and Persona Humana: Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics)
*** Eleven Church Teachings on Homosexuality Accessible pamphlet that puts key points of the Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons in layman's terms. A good first resource to give someone with same-sex attraction or their loved ones, or for use in the confessional or pamphlet rack.
Catechism of the Catholic Church par. 2357-2359 (important to use the definitive edition [green] as text was revised in the section on homosexuality)
Recommended application of the magisterial teaching coming from our national bishops' conferences.
Fr. Harvey, founder of Courage (see below) and enlightened by decades of ministry to those with same-sex attraction, offers his favorable commentary and some suggested additional considerations.
USCCB Committee on Family and Marriage. "Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers" (1997) Read concurrently with Fr. Harvey's commentary below.
Fr. John Harvey. Observations Concerning the Revised Text of "Always Our Children"
Fr. Harvey, founder of Courage and enlightened by decades of ministry to those with same-sex attraction, expresses reservations and the need for additional clarification and elaboration.
*** Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Pastoral Ministry to Young Persons with Same-Sex Attraction" (2011) Excellent and very accessible. A good first resource to offer those with same-sex attraction and their families.
Rev. Paul Scalia. Chairman of the Board of Courage (see below).
*** "Same Sex Attraction" (ARTICLE) An articulate four-part series written for the Arlington Herald, a diocesan newspaper.
*** Fr. Paul Scalia "The True Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality" (AUDIO) Directed to young adults from Arlington Diocese Theology on Tap series. Search for "Homosexuality" to find talk or scroll down to "Winter '09 Series"
"Speaking the Truth in Love: Christianity and Homosexuality" (AUDIO) with Deacon Barry Levy.
Fr. Paul Check. Executive Director of Courage (see below), Courage chaplain, and moral theologian.
*** Clarity and Charity: The Catholic Church and Homosexuality (AUDIO) Talk given to Gospel of Life Society at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Norwalk, CT.
"The Catholic Church and Homosexuality: Severe or sensible?" (VIDEO) Annual Faber Lecture at Marquette University. Does a splendid job of explaining the rationale behind the moral teaching of the Church.
Fr. Mike Schmitz. Director of Newman Campus Ministry at University of Minnesota - Duluth)
*** From Love, For Love, By Love: A Deeper Understanding of Contraception, Same Sex Attraction, and Authentic Love (CD from Lighthouse Catholic Media)
An excellent first resource for someone with same-sex attraction or their loved ones.
"Father Michael Schmitz tackles some of the most difficult topics in the Church today. With compassion, clarity, and humor, he shows that the Church's teachings on contraception and same-sex attraction are rooted in the yearnings for authentic love that is shared by all, who are made in the image and likeness of God." Fr. Schmitz compassionately announces the good news that ""There is no safer place for a man or a woman who has same sex attraction than in the arms of our Mother, the Church."
Listen to preview of the talk.
View similar talk on YouTube: The Theology of the Body.
Listen to similar talks in Homily Archives : 10/7/12, "Called to Love", and 10/17/10, "The Universal Call
"Why is homosexuality a sin?" (ARTICLE)
Fr. Paul Scalia. A Label That Sticks.
*** David Prosen. "I am not Gay, I'm David"
Dan Mattson. "Why I Don't Call Myself a Gay Christian"
COURAGE: A ROMAN CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE
*** Courage website
*** Annual Courage Conference An exceptional blessings to both those with SSA and those who love and care for them.
Endorsements and Quotes
Pope John Paul II said of this ministry, "COURAGE is doing the work of God!"
Courage is endorsed by the Pontifical Council for the Family. "This Pontifical Council for the Family supports the organization called 'Courage' which was founded by Father John Harvey, OSFS, for helping homosexual persons to live in accordance with the laws of God and the teaching of His Church." (Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, 7 July 1994 - Prot. N216/93)
"Whenever the Church encounters a particular social condition or vulnerability in man's fallen human nature, it's simply a matter of natural justice that she'd also provide the means for people to live out the teaching...In our pastoral charity, we want to give the souls under our care the means to living the moral teaching of the Church"
(Fr. Paul Check, director of Courage)
"The Courage apostolate is that maternal solicitude on the part of the Church to people who have a unique struggle, an often difficult and vexing one, and who want to know that the grace of Christ and his Cross is available to them in concrete and practical ways. This is part of the charism of Courage and what was in the mind and heart of our founder, Cardinal Cooke. It is a desire to express the Church's care and affection for a group of people who often feel isolated. I don't just say lonely, but isolated. They're uncertain about where they can find assistance, who really takes an interest in them and who has a love for them. The Church does." (Fr. Paul Check, director of Courage)
Articles and other media on Courage.
Note how well Courage fits the recommendations laid out by both the Vatican and the USCCB in:
- Confraternity of the Doctrine of the Faith's Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons
- USCCB's Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care (specifically mentions Courage on in the footnotes on page 22).
"The Courage Apostolate" A very brief description and history.
Fr. Paul Check. Executive Director of Courage, Courage chaplain, and moral theologian. Written interviews, audio recordings of lectures and radio, and video of lectures and television.
*** "Courage Continues Mission of Its Founder, Father Harvey: Director of Catholic apostolate to homosexuals discusses challenges and opportunities" (ARTICLE) National Catholic Register's extended interview of Fr. Paul Check, director of Courage, in the context of the Courage convention in the summer of 2011.
"Life on the Rock: Courage" with Fr. Paul Check. (VIDEO of EWTN TV show with call-in) Includes interview with "Steve", a man with same-sex attraction, who has been drawn into a life of chastity and to deep appreciation for the Church.
Fr. Paul Check. "Catholic Answers Live: Hope for Homosexuals" (AUDIO of radio talk and call-in show) Focuses on ministry of Courage.
Fr. John Harvey. Founder of Courage and moral theologian who served those with same sex attraction for many decades and is thus the a preeminent authority on the Catholic approach to serving those with same-sex attraction.
Fr. John Harvey. Same Sex Attraction: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice. Booklet by founder of Courage, moral theologian, and preeminent expert on Catholic approach to serving those with same sex attraction.
"A Tribute to Fr. John Harvey" Tribute to the recently deceased founder of Courage, given by Fr. Paul Check, the current Director of Courage. The gentle spirit of love that pervaded Fr. Harvey's ministry lives on in Courage.
Bishop James Conley (Denver) "Courage: Speaking the Truth in Love"
Lots more material to peruse at:
Courage web site: http://www.couragerc.net/
Priests with Courage: http://couragerc.net/Priests_with_Courage.html (This network serves deacons and seminarians, too.)
(Listen, too, to how the Church can learn to love them better.)
David Prosen. Catholic counselor and member of Courage.
"Breaking Free From Homosexuality: One Man's Journey to Life in Christ" "I desperately sought support from other Catholics who were going through the same struggles but who wanted to live chaste lives. In my former diocese, I found little or no support, and often what support I was given condoned the sin. This has helped me realize how important it is that we promote and support Courage."
*** David Morrison. "Out of the Closet and Into Chastity"
Articulately speaks of the appealing beauty of the unique teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. "As both a former homosexual activist and current faithful Catholic committed to chastity, I urge instead that all Catholics, laity and clergy, join together to preach the fullness of the Church's teaching on this matter. I implore this because I believe it to be a teaching filled with dignity, truth and self-respect for all people, one which, if preached in integrity and steadfastness, will bring many to a full life with Jesus Christ."
"Steve Gershom" "I'm A Man: 5 Questions and Answers from a Homosexual Catholic"
Faithful Catholic with same-sex attraction who has never been involved in the "gay" lifestyle.. Very insightful. When asked, "Is there anything you wish you could change about the Church's teaching on homosexuality?, "Steve" replied, "Not a thing. Without the Church's clear teaching on the issue, I would have been at the mercy of my badly confused emotions. When your instincts are misleading, you need something unshakable. The Church is a rock." (His Blog: "Steve Gershom: Gay, Catholic, and Feeling Fine, Thanks)
Dan Mattson. Courage member.
"Why I Don't Call Myself a Gay Christian" published at First Things.
Letters to Christopher: On the Subject of Same-Sex Attraction A blog of letters he wrote using a pseudonym of "Nathaniel Jameson" who is writing as a chaste, but same-sex attracted uncle to a nephew who has just "come out".
“Living With Same-Sex Attraction” Catholic Answers Live (PODCAST)
“Wine as Strong as Fire” (VIDEO slideshow) Testimony about how the finest fruit is borne from the greatest suffering, in this case, his same-sex attraction.
Living with Same-Sex Attraction. Catholic Spirit.com Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
"Liberated Love". Courage offers compassion, fellowship, and hope to those with same-sex attraction. Three testimonies from Courage men.
*** Catholic Medical Association. Homosexuality and Hope: Questions and Answers About Same-Sex Attraction A simplified version of the above-mentioned resource; accessible to all. (Excerpted from longer booklet. Order full-length copies at Catholic Medical Association) Excellent publication for a first resource to share with others; addresses spiritual well-being, too.
*** "Ministering to Those With Same-Sex Attraction: What Courage Members Would Like Clergy to Know" Most insightful look into the needs and struggles of people with same-sex attraction.
Rev. Thomas G. Morrow. "How Priests Can Help Homosexuals." Homiletics and Pastoral Review. (December 1997) "Having worked with Fr. Harvey for several years, I am convinced that he, and the group he founded, Courage, are the best hope for homosexuals and for the Church in helping homosexuals. "
Rev. Jeffrey Keefe O.F.M.Conv., Ph.D., S.T.L. "Outreach to Homosexual Persons: The Understanding Heart" Fr. Keefe is a clinical psychologist who teaches pastoral psychology.
Rev. Paul Check (director of Courage) Homily on Chastity and same-sex attraction. Articulately integrates teaching and guidance regarding same-sex attraction into a homily about chastity in general in the light of the treasure of the teachings of Church. "We do well to avoid either softening what the Church teaches or making it more severe than it is." "The most important thing that I can ever tell you as a priest is this: the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Catholic Church are 'pearls of great price,' (cf Mt 13:46) entrusted to her by Christ for the good of our immortal souls."
Resources for Priests Courage webpage for with several very helpful articles.
*** Priests with Courage A network of priests committed to ministering to persons struggling with homosexuality with the love of Christ and the full teachings of the Church, especially in the area of chastity. Lots of resources. Particularly worthy of note are the Goals of Priests With Courage .
*** Fr. Mike Schmitz. From Love, For Love, By Love: A Deeper Understanding of Contraception, Same Sex Attraction, and Authentic Love CD version Download mp3 version Incorporates the broader meaning of the person, the body, friendship, love, and of sexuality into a discussion of same-sex attraction.
Fr. Paul Scalia. A Label That Sticks. Discusses the trend toward premature and counterproductive labeling of highschool students.
*** Fr. Paul Scalia. "Same Sex Attraction" (ARTICLE) An articulate four-part series written for the Arlington Herald, a diocesan newspaper. Part 4, “Fidelity to Love and Truth” of this series is particularly addressed to parents and those who love someone with with SSA.
Interview with Fr. Paul Check. Loving a Child with Same-Sex Attraction . National Catholic Register, 3/21/13.
Dan Mattson. Dealing With Same-Sex Attraction. For parents of children struggling with same-sex attraction.
EnCourage Helpful Resources Testimonies from parents as well as numerous other articles and resources especially selected for those who love someone with same-sex attraction.
EnCourage. A ministry within Courage dedicated to the spiritual needs of parents, siblings, children, and other relatives and friends of persons who have same-sex attraction.
A top priority is finding a counselor who both fully embraces the teaching of the Church and specializes in working with patients with same-sex attraction. Many will not be able to find faithful and competent local help. In many cases counseling can be done by phone or Skype. Inclusion on this list does not guarantee the competency or effectiveness of the counselors, but rather suggests that they present themselves as authentically Catholic (unless otherwise noted) and with specialized training in serving those with sexual identity concerns.
Deacon Barry Levy, LCSW-C, LMFT. Speaking the Truth in Love: Christianity and Homosexuality: Part Two (Institute for Catholic Culture) Deacon and therapist who serves those with unwanted same-sex attraction speaks about the psychological dimension of same-sex attraction and therapy.
CatholicTherapists.com Look for counselors who state that they specialize in serving those with Sexual Identity Disorders. If there is no one local, check other states for those who do phone or Skype counseling. Do a Google search for "Catholic therapists" and "sexual identity disorders" to find all of the therapists listed at CatholicTherapists.com who specialize in this area.
NARTH National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality Not explicitly religious, but offers referral service for therapists who work with patients who seek to live chastely and possibly free from same sex attraction. Call for referrals to counselors.
A supplement to the syllabus, Fullest Access:Catholicism
Last updated 5/8/13