Anti-Gay Celibacy Group’s Arrival Forces Dozens of Catholic Students to Leave Church

At the University of Toronto, the Newman Centre is the gathering place for a lot of straight and gay Catholic students. At least, it was… until a chapter of the group Courage was invited to hold events in the building.

What’s Courage? At first glance, it sounds pretty damn awesome. It’s a “support group for homosexuals in the Catholic Church.” A support group for gay Catholics?! Forget the hypocrisy of being a gay Catholic for a moment — what a strategically brilliant move on the Church’s part! A way to show the LGBT crowd that you actually care about them even if you think homosexuality is immoral.

Well, it sounded good, anyway. When students attended one of their events, they were shocked at what they heard.

This group indoctrinates . . . praying yourself straight,” said Stuart Graham, a former liturgical minister and lector at the parish who was one of those who complained to the university.

They’re telling young people who are confused and frightened that they’re damned,” he said. “I’m shocked we’re dealing with this in 2013.”

That’s a pretty shitty support group right there: “You got problems? We got answers. Stop being yourself or you’ll burn in hell!”

So what does this group actually believe? If you go to Courage’s website, you’ll find a Twelve Step Program modeled after the one used by Alcoholics Anonymous. Among their steps for the gay Catholics they’re trying to help:

We admitted that we were powerless over homosexuality and our lives had become unmanageable.

We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of our character.

Oh. And they also tell you that you can never ever have sex.

That’s right, representatives of a faith known for producing 39012321 children per family are demanding that gay Catholics never have sex.

Representatives of a Church known for harboring priests who rape little boys are demanding that gay Catholics in a loving same-sex relationship can never enjoy physical intimacy.

Just when you thought the Catholic Church couldn’t get any worse…

So what did Newman Centre officials have to say about this?

The Newman Centre then posted a comment on its website specifying that the program is not offered by or connected to the university, but it continues to support Courage’s activities.

So they’re complicit in the bigotry.

There is one upside to this story. As a result of the affiliation with the anti-gay group that’s even more anti-gay than the anti-gay Church, a whole bunch of students are walking away from the local Church altogether:

Meanwhile at St. Thomas Aquinas, the pews are emptying out, said longtime congregant Larry Carriere. “There’s growing emptiness and sadness in the community,” he said.

Graham estimates that 50 people have left the parish to worship elsewhere.

Despite the complaints, the media attention and dwindling numbers at mass, Courage continues to operate with the blessings of the church.

Keep up the good work, Catholic Church. For all your talk of compassion for all, your actions prove your love is only reserved for a select group of people. A group that’s dwindling by the day.

(Thanks to Chris for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Lynn David

    What else did you expect from the Catholic Church? The Church and Courage didn’t get any worse, it has ALWAYS been like that.

  • Cat MacKinnon

    “Christ’s moral teachings have always been a stumbling block to the world.”

    that’s because many of them are fucking ridiculous.

    “The world has no use for crosses.”

    well, at least they got one thing right!

    gah, just the thought of a group so deeply mired in sexual abuse trying to preach “chastity” makes me want to throw up. i cannot fathom how they are so delusionally blind to their own hypocrisies.

  • cipher

    They call themselves “Courage”.

    I say it all the time: fundamentalists have absolutely NO sense of irony.

  • RobertoTheChi

    Too bad the priests that raped/rape children couldn’t take this advice and remain chaste…

  • Amakudari

    Wait, so these Catholics were going to a church whose stance is that homosexuality is a mortal sin, AIDS in Africa is preferable to condoms (as contraception is morally equivalent to infanticide), and child rapists should be shielded from the law (not to mention the wacky doctrinal issues like an ex-Nazi being the vicar of Christ on Earth or that you drink blood and eat flesh on Sundays), and by being confronted with one aspect of the Church’s well-known dogma feel that now is the time to leave?

    As someone raised in the Catholic Church, I’ve always struggled with how people can jump through all these mental hoops and give money to such a horrible institution when at the very least there are Episcopalian churches down the road that can be less hamstrung by these horrible doctrines.

  • A3Kr0n

    I hope they didn’t leave to “worship elsewhere”, but rather left because they saw the nonsense of religion.

  • uzza

    It’s all good. They can only belong to this church as long as they ignore what this church teaches. The Church rubs their noses in it –> they stop being hypocrites, and the Church dwindles away to nothing. Ponies!

  • LesterBallard

    If you’re GLBT, if you’re a woman, if you’re a half decent human being, why have anything to do with the RCC? Or Christianity. Or religion.

  • Matthew Baker

    no true self-mortification, scourge or cilice what a tame group.


    Perversity is alive and well in the minds of homophobes everywhere.

  • Michael

    Back when I was a Catholic (now atheist) I used to go to church there. It was, at that time, a very progressive, socially active, church. It’s changed since then, has been forced to conform to the Catholic right’s teaching. Actions like this just further alienate young people who, far from being amoral as many complain, have a strong sense of justice, especially when it comes to prejudice against their friends.

  • trj

    Simple: most people stick with what they know. Also, one should never underestimate the amount of excuses people will provide for an organisation they’re emotionally invested in.

  • RobMcCune

    And I thought 1Flesh was repugnant.

  • Erp

    Dignity is the group of Catholics which is affirming of gay and lesbian Catholics and predates Courage (1969 versus sometime in the 1980s). However Courage has the support of the church hierarchy and Dignity does not.

    A search shows that Dignity Toronto Dignité exists, but, I don’t know how active it is. Certainly those who affirm gay and lesbian Catholics have been pushed away from the church by the hierarchy.

  • JohnnieCanuck

    The post is a little confusing as to where they went when they left, but there is the quote, “Graham estimates that 50 people have left the parish to worship elsewhere.” It’s not clear if they just chose another Catholic church or went looking elsewhere. One could hope a few stopped attending entirely

    Given that it’s Canada, the Church of England is known as Anglican, not Episcopalian. Something to do with a rebellion.

  • brian thomson

    Oh, and just to add Irony to Injury, the Newman Centre is named after a 19th Century Catholic Cardinal who was, according to some accounts, homosexual. Wikipedia euphemistically refers to his “issues of sexual identity” and “intense male friendships”. He asked to be buried alongside the last of those, a gent named Ambrose St. John. Not that the Church would ever admit it: they’re actually looking to Canonize the bloke.

  • RobMcCune

    After he gets canonized how long til he becomes the gay saint that proves the church isn’t homophobic.

  • L.Long

    1. The people who left did the right thing. The church is the church and you cannot change them. When beliefs clash –walk out! Go somewhere else! Hell become an atheist–then have sex and not worry about who’s watching.

    2. But this whole anti gay thing is one of the best illustrations of Xtian hypocrisy. There is nothing in the buyBull that condemns being gay. What is condemned is a specific activity. Nothing says that being attracted to another man is disgusting. So unless you can show that a man laid with a man as one would with a woman then there is NO SIN!!! How would those hypocritical xtains like it if everyone went around accusing them of adultery because they are men and being near a woman means he had sex.

  • roberthughmclean

    The catliks love that little logo thingy of the dead bloke on a stick. I wonder how on earth could the dead magic jew nailed to a stick be in any way attractive to people not already afflicted with christianity? What are they trying to say???

  • roberthughmclean

    So, according to the catholics, “Courage” really means to have no idea of anything?

  • Richard Wade

    The Catholic church is like a slowly sinking ship with the bow under the water, and the captain is ordering full speed ahead instead of full reverse. So it will plow itself more deeply under the surface. This self-destructive doubling-down of what is driving members away is bizarre to me.

    Not that I mind.

  • Antinomian

    I think Graham is assuming an awful lot by saying that the people who left are worshiping elsewhere.

  • guynflint

    i do not have sexual or romantic relations not by choice. although i once had a “relationship” with another man for 15yrs, it fell apart due to my failures..not his. i have not had a sexual encounter or even a date since he and i split up. that was 7yrs ago.

    i have been on “social” sites but find they are really intended for those under 30. those over 30 do not have any interest in me as

    so, in conclusion.. in the gay male world of america.. if a guy over 35 is not in a satisfying long term relationship, not very attractive, not very wealthy, not very well..built let’s say… then…it’s over..

    i have completely given up thinking i will ever be with anyone for any kind of relationship other than casual friendship.

    it takes some time to get used to this as i watch others living “normal” lives. i just have to realize i am not normal and it’s okay. that kind of life is not for me and i’m not the kind of guy for it.

    many may think i am in need of “help”.. trust me.. i am not ( i think) i just have to tell myself i do not belong in such…things