Pastoral Care for Homosexual persons :: Catholic News Agency
Pastoral Care for Homosexual persons


In November, 1978, the late Cardinal Terrence Cook of New York invited the Rev. John F. Harvey, O.S.F.S. to come to his Archdiocese to establish a spiritual support system for men and women with homosexual orientation who desired to live chaste lives. With the help of the Rev. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., and others, Fr. Harvey began the first meeting in September, 1980 at the Shrine of Mother Seton in South Ferry. COURAGE continues to be sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York

At present there are more than 50 chapters of COURAGE located in the United States and Canada and some others in Spanish speaking countries.

Mission and Objectives

COURAGE and ENCOURAGE are respectively two spiritual support groups helping Catholic men and women - and their families - to live in accordance with the Catholic Church's pastoral teaching on homosexuality The objectives of COURAGE are as follows:

1. To live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality.

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 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 will 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 a celibate Christian life and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining them.

The program

In addition to individual counseling, the support groups very often conduct their sessions with the assistance of the 12 Step format developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. When appropriate, individuals are referred to Catholic therapists.
The group sessions are supplemented several times each year with insights from Catholic teaching published in the COURAGE NEWSLETTER.

The COURAGE HANDBOOK - also available from the New York Office - explains the goals and procedures to establish and conduct COURAGE and ENCOURAGE group meetings.

EnCOURAGE is the affiliate group for friends and relatives of men and women with homosexual feelings. This support group works and prays to develop a Catholic outreach to men and women who struggle with these feelings.

Each year, usually during the summer months, COURAGE holds a NATIONAL CONFERENCE where hundreds of men and women gather to pray, to study and to support each other.

Individual chapters of COURAGE also sponsor DAYS OF RECOLLECTION at different times of the year to assist the members of the support groups.

Catholic Teaching

"The human person made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties - but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person a "heterosexual" or a "homosexual" and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: a creature of God, and by grace, His child and heir to eternal life." (Letter from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith - October 1986).

Erroneous assumptions

The Society of Catholic Social Scientists alerted the  American Bishops about a trend among some ministries to homosexual Catholics that contradict authentic Catholic teaching on homosexuality and are founded upon erroneous scientific assumptions. The Society highlights:

1. False statements are being made about homosexuality being biologically determined.

2. Catholic homosexuals are being told wrongly that sexual-orientation change is never possible.

3. The term "gay" is being wrongly used to describe people of a homosexual orientation who do not identify with the gay socio-political position.

4. A separate "gay spirituality" regrettably is being encouraged, and gay ministries tell us that a person who suffers from the homosexual disorder has special "gay gifts" for the Church.

5. Catholics are being informed wrongly that the homosexual condition is not disordered.

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