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Courage

The Catholic Review

The reaction to my mentioning on this page some weeks ago that I planned to make Courage, a support group for Catholics with same-sex attractions who seek to live chaste lives, available in the Archdiocese, was generally favorable.

There was one negative and, I thought, unnecessarily harsh letter denouncing Courage, to which I replied, in part,

“As you might know, I have been associated with Courage since its beginnings. I have seen great happiness and grace the result in many lives.”

The goals of Courage are as follows:

  1. To live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality.
  2. To dedicate our entire lives to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.
  3. To foster a spirit of fellowship in which we may share with one another our thoughts and experiences and so ensure that none of us have to face the problems of homosexuality alone.
  4. To be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in living a chaste Christian life, and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining them.
  5. To live lives that may serve as good examples to others.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2357-2359, leaves no doubt as to our Church’s constant teaching on the immorality of homosexual actions, calling the same-sex inclination “objectively disordered.” (Note: it is the inclination that is objectively disordered). The Catechism goes on to state that men and women with deep-seated homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” and this, Courage does. The Catechism continues, “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

Unfortunately, in recent years this Church teaching has increasingly met highly emotional dissent bordering on the volatile in some quarters. Courage has been attacked as well, in spite of its intention simply to be of pastoral assistance to Catholics who seek support in leading a chaste life in keeping with our Church’s teaching.

One accusation claims that Courage promotes the goal of developing a physical attraction to persons of the opposite sex, in effect, changing their sexual orientation. Father John Harvey, a founder of Courage, states definitively that this is not the case.

“While the healing of the emotions is very important, there is a higher kind of healing, namely, the development of chastity within the heart of the persons – what I call in my more recent writings chastity of the heart, or interior chastity.”

Monsignor James Farmer, pastor of St. Ursula’s Parish, has agreed to lead a team of priests who will be available to those who seek pastoral assistance from Courage. At this stage a physical “headquarters” has not been established. This will depend upon the logistical convenience of the individuals involved.

The experience in the 95 U.S. dioceses where Courage is active is that the program will start small and grow gradually. We welcome inquiries. Each inquiry will be treated with complete confidence, and a personal interview will take place prior to one’s joining the group. (Several calls have already been received even before this public announcement.)

The Courage phone line directly to Monsignor Farmer and with voice mail is 410-661-0732. Email: Courage@archbalt.org.

I am most grateful to Monsignor Farmer and those priests collaborating in this important pastoral initiative and I ask for prayers for its success.