Church teaching on homosexuality causes hope for some, derision for others

.- Two very different groups, which offer support for homosexuals in the Church are planning their first conferences since the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

On July 7th through 10th, the group, Dignity, will hold their 17th annual convention in Philadelphia, PA.

The group, which is highly frowned upon by the Catholic Church, believes that those with same-sex attractions should be permitted to physically express those attractions while remaining in the full sacramental life of the Church.

Church teaching holds however, that while the disposition toward homosexuality is not in itself sinful, that acting upon it is.

Pope Benedict now, and in his former position as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which helps to safeguard authentic Church teaching, has been a staunch critic of groups like Dignity, who ignore the Church’s long-held teaching.

Sam Sinnett, Detroit’s president of Dignity, said recently that the Church’s opposition to the practice of homosexuality has been "incredibly damaging."

"That damage to people”, he said, “is what motivates so many of us in Dignity to be an alternative voice. I know I needed people who were comfortable putting the two words together -- 'gay' and 'Catholic.’”

Dignity also makes clear that it stands against the Church’s teaching on married priests, women priests and remarriage without annulment.

Worlds apart

Alternately, another nationwide group, Courage, is gearing up for their own conference to be held August 11th-14th in Douglaston, New York.

Fully endorsed by the Holy See, Courage is a group dedicated to helping those with same-sex attractions, to live lives in what they describe as “fellowship, truth and love.”

Cardinal Terrance Cooke, former Archbishop of New York, who founded the group, believed “that the individual dealing with same-sex attractions truly needed to experience the freedom of living chastely and in that freedom find the desire and growth steps necessary to live fully Christian lives in communion with God and others.”

The group says, “He was concerned that many would not find this path and would be constantly trying to get their needs met in ways that ultimately do not satisfy the desires of the heart.”

According to their website, Courage says that, “In helping individuals gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the Church's teachings, Courage extends the Church's invitation to experience the freedom of chaste living.  In chaste living, one finds greater freedom, peace and grace to grow in Christian maturity.”

As states across the country currently debate the legality and constitutionality of same-sex marriages, and as Pope Benedict recently spoke out against new laws in Spain permitting the unions—even going so far as to urge Catholic clerks to disobey them, lines have clearly been drawn in the sand.

While seemingly similar and perhaps confusing to those who don’t know Dignity and Courage well, one thing is clear—convention halls in Philadelphia and Douglaston will be two very different places come this summer.

More information on the Courage conference may be found at: