Archdiocese launches chapter of Courage, run by deacons

From the Catholic Transcript, in Hartford, Connecticut:

Men and women living with same sex attraction often feel neglected and despised — by their families, their heterosexual friends, even the Catholic Church.

Deacon Robert Pallotti, Director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate of the Archdiocese of Hartford, wants to do something about that.

Archbishop Henry J. Mansell has given Deacon Pallotti’s office the go-ahead to start a chapter of Courage, an apostolate of the Catholic Church that ministers to persons with same-sex attraction (SSA)…

…Biweekly Courage meetings in a confidential location will be led by at least one of seven deacons who have undergone specific training to understand the emotional difficulties persons with SSA experience.  “One of us will always be there, so they’ll always feel safe because they’ll get to know us,” Deacon Pallotti said.

There’s much more at the link.

Comments

  1. I have always felt that the saying “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” really means “I hate you.” I am very happy to see a purposeful outreach from the Church. Thank you, Deacon.

  2. Although I’m not exclusively SSA in my attractions I sometimes think of looking into this group. Except I think my parents would be vaguely shocked/horrified even if it’s approved.

    They’re not one of those that are devoted to “curing” SSA are they? I mean I’m celibate and like the idea of being even more chaste than that, but I’m not sure I think “curing” is possible in most cases.

  3. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Thomas…

    No, Courage doesn’t try to “cure” people or change their attraction. If you visit the link in the article, it describes their mission, and offers links and phone numbers for people who want to know more.

    Dcn. G.

  4. Why is it call “Courage”? courage for what? change? being chaste? continue the homosexual lifestyle? what kind of courage?

  5. To know why, you might actually have to get to know SSA people. Talk with them. Experience the nature of human compassion. Grow.

  6. Grow how? by accepting the lifestyle?

  7. I have a friend with SSA who is Catholic, and who hasn’t been to church in decades. When I converted to the church several years ago and asked him to begin attending with me he replied, “Why would I want to go to a church that hates me?” Of course I know that not be be true, but I can’t convince him otherwise and I don’t know how to help him without making him angry.

    I was the one he “came out” to first in our group of friends about 25 years ago (we’re all in our 50′s now) and I believe he chose me because he figured I would be the most accepting. When I see articles about Courage and other writings on SSA by Catholics I’m always wishing I had the courage to send them to him, but I think I might lose him as a friend.

    Is it better to risk losing him by planting these seeds or does anyone have a suggestion about how I could approach him? (In my heart I believe I’m supposed to risk the friendship and already know the answer to my question.) He doesn’t talk about his SSA much anymore and has a whole group of friends, both men and women with SSA, that are important to him in a family sort of way, not a sexual one. For me to broach the subject out of the blue would be in effect telling him he has a problem, when he not longer thinks he does.

    Any advice?

  8. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Rudy…

    You can find out what they do and why here. Courage has the full support and blessing of the Church.

    Dcn. G.

  9. “By developing an interior life of chastity, which is the universal call to all Christians, one can move beyond the confines of the homosexual identity to a more complete one in Christ” From the website.

    Thank you Deacon Greg.

  10. CCYM, in his book on Opus Dei Scott Hahn writes about trying hard to convince his wife about the truth of Catholicism. A member of Opus Dei told him to turn down the apologetics and turn up the romance. Something similar could be done in your case–be a Catholic, but turn up the friendship. Let him see that you are a Catholic who respects and guninely likes him

  11. Thanks, Rick. The example of my Catholic friends was what attracted me to the Church in the first place. They never tried to convert me. A good reminder.

  12. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    CCYM…

    You might try contacting Courage (visit their website for info) and see what they suggest.

    Good luck,
    Dcn. G.

  13. You might be interested in the book “Sexual Authenticity” by Melinda Selmys, a woman who left a same-sex relationship and culture for Catholicism, marriage and motherhood. I heard her speak last month on the Catholic Answers radio program and looked up her blog (of the same name) and have started reading her book. Maybe her insights could be helpful to you and your friend.

  14. Hartford isn’t the only Archdiocese to have a Courage chapter led by a deacon. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has had such an arrangement for close to three years. I wrote an article about the chapter, which continues to flourish, in 2009. It can be read here: http://www.archindy.org/criterion/local/2009/11-20/courage.html

  15. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Thanks, Sean.

    It does seem, though, that the Hartford chapter is operating as a specific diaconal ministry — with deacons specially trained to serve as counselors and facilitators. That’s a bit unusual, I think.

    Dcn. G.

  16. It looks like there is a group callend Encourage for the families and friends of people with same sex attraction. The group provides on-line support at the following address: http://couragerc.net/Encourage_ListServ.html

  17. You are correct Deacon Greg that it is not a stated goal to “cure” the person with gay attraction, but there are a growing number of stories where those who thought they were gay once they were properly informed and supported did go on to lead life in marriage with a person of the opposite sex. Many kids grow up today in our society without being properly formed and supported and this in some cases leads to gender confusion. Courage does a great job of education and support and leads many to a fuller understanding of who they are in reality. I have a very good friend who went through Courage and is now in a wonderful marriage with a couple kids. I have great admiration for what he has gone through in his life and the “courage” he showed along the path. He now counsels gays in the droves in his practice and works with several Courage training programs.

  18. exactly the advice my friend mentioned above gives to those who ask this question. Courage is set up to deal with many who have only heard that the Catholic Church hates gays because we do not condone the homosexual act and see it as gravely disordered and certainly cannot support gay unions or marriage or to consider giving children to people living openly gay lifestyles.

  19. Why is the ministry to LGBT Catholics a 12 Step model? No one has ever been able to explain this to me. A persons sexual identity isn’t an addiction or a disease, so why a 12 Step model? I can understand a 12 Step group for sexual addiction, but just because someone is LGBT doesn’t mean they struggle with a sexual addiction.

  20. Thanks to all who have recommended the Courage and EnCourage websites, plus the books.

  21. Hi, Kelley:

    The ministry follows a 12 step model because many of those who are same-sex attracted (SSA) are also practicing the behavior (homoerotic sex). In the on-line EnCourage support group as well as the main group of Courage we call this behavior by the name of PPH which means practicing or promoting homosexuality (or homosexual) . This practice, as it is against the nature of the human person, forms an addiction where the person’s free will becomes so compromised that often only by the help of God can this person be freed. Believe it or not the 12 steps are Catholic in their practice. That is supposed to be a secret!

  22. I’m a social worker… I am very aware of the 12 Step model. What about the LGBT people that aren’t sexually active? This is more complex of an issue than just sex. Why is the only ministry based on the assumption that they have a sexual addiction?

  23. Kelley, I would appreciate a little restraint on your part. Even though I am only reading your words, I detect anger bordering on rudeness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us in paragraph 2358 that ssa is a disorder which constitutes a trial for most of those who are afflicted.

    In my study of the disorder most people will act out in the behavior and once that is done the brain patterns form a habit, then an addiction, then a compulsion. Remember, SSA is an unnatural disorder and can soon become an iniquity (which is only removed by God’s intervention). Rather than leave the deep-seated affliction to fester, the Church offers the 12 -step model to be as certain to cover all of the bases for the person to heal. That is not to say that Courage is the only way but in my experience (and the experience of many of my peers) Courage is an excellent program. It includes a spiritual component which is often necessary to help the whole person to health. As you said the disorder is more complex and sex is one aspect but not always the presiding symptom.

    What I love about our Catholic faith is that God has provided us with all that is needed for our salvation in His Church. We must be good stewards of His gift.

    If my answer still does not satisfy you please go to the Courage website and contact their office. The staff will answer more of your questions. I won’t publish the telephone # here but as mentioned in another post, the website is http://www.couragerc.net. The executive director, himself, is accessible by phone, too.

  24. My intent is not to speak out of anger or to be rude… my question is quite sincere. I am a devout Catholic…. go to daily Mass, frequent Confession, and meet with my spiritual director… and I’m gay.

    You appear to be missing what my real question is. You keep mentioning “disorder” and controlling sexual actions, but that’s not what I’m really talking about… I don’t struggle with chastity.

    What I do struggle with is how often I feel like an outcast in the Church… as if I’m not welcome. I happen to be at an amazing parish, but the things I read online in Catholic media and experiences I’ve had with some Catholics makes me feel as if I’m the enemy… which I’m not. I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just being real. I’m not looking for support to maintain a chaste lifestyle because I don’t struggle with that… I’m looking for support for when I’m feeling like I don’t belong in the Church… like some freak that’s ‘disordered’ or ‘afflicted’.

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