Fr. John Harvey, known for founding Courage, the international support group for Catholics who experience same-sex attraction, passed away recently at the age of 92.
Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a Catholic psychiatrist who worked with Fr. Harvey for 30 years, remembered the priest as a “brilliant moral theologian” whose life was a “gift to the Church.”
Father Harvey died on Dec. 27, the feast of St. John the Evangelist, at Union Hospital in Elkton, Maryland. Born in Philadelphia, he was priest for 66 years and an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales for 73.
In New York City in 1980, Fr. Harvey helped found Courage, the Church-approved ministry devoted to helping Catholics who experience same-sex attractions live in accordance with Catholic moral teaching.
The apostolate is aimed at strengthening chastity, religious devotion, healthy friendships, and a spirit of fellowship and support among Catholics who experience same-sex attractions. Courage incorporates a modified version of the “Twelve Steps,” traditionally used in the treatment of substance-abuse, in its work helping Catholics who struggle with homosexuality to lead chaste lives.
With the endorsement of the Vatican, Courage now has more than 110 chapters and contact people world-wide.
“Fr. Harvey responded to the needs of those with same sex attraction in the Church through the development of Courage,” Dr. Fitzgibbons said.
He called Fr. Harvey's prominent book, “The Truth about Homosexuality,” a “great gift to the Catholics” that should be “required reading” for clergy, educators and laity.
Dr. Fitzgibbon's praised Fr. Harvey as a “brilliant” moral theologian, but explained that more importantly, the priest defended the Church's teaching on sexual morality “with great wisdom, love and gentleness.”
“He was a gift to the Church during a troubled historical period when many in the Church abandoned the teaching of Christ and His Church in regard to sexual morality and homosexuality, in particular, resulting in great confusion and significant trauma,” the psychiatrist added.
Dr. Fitzgibbons also noted Fr. Harvey's “great devotion” to St. Francis de Sales, whom he called “a source of wisdom and comfort for him during times of great trials.”