. . . I [met] one or two ex-Courage members at Dignity/New York meetings in the early 1980s. Like Dignity, Courage was 98% men. From talking to them briefly it seemed they tried to abstain from gay sex, but the continual messages they received, that homosexuals are immoral and sick, drove them away.
The Archdiocese of New York, under Terence Cardinal Cooke, issued “The Rights of Homosexuals vs. Parental Rights” on January 11, 1978. The gist of this document is . . . “Catholics maintain unequivocally that homosexual activity is immoral and patterns of life that encourage homosexuality are gravely wrong. Without encouraging unkindness towards homosexuals, the Catholic moral position strongly reinforces parents’ and their surrogates’ determination to keep all children in their formative years free of any persons or influences that could draw them into homosexual practice.”
The sentiments behind that statement are the reason Courage has failed to attract most homosexual Catholics: be ashamed of who you are. Your longing and desire is dirty, immoral, disgusting. Hide it, or risk being expelled from the community. Stay in the closet.
Dignity in comparison was like a rush of fresh air: God made you who you are, and loves you as you are. Little wonder gay and lesbian Catholics flocked to Dignity instead.
About two years ago, I received an email from a woman member of the Courage group meeting at St. John the Baptist Church on West 31st Street in New York. She encouraged me to give up my lifestyle and come to the group’s meetings. I can’t recall if I replied or not, but after another note or two she gave up trying to recruit me.
The experience recalled an admonishment my mother gave to me as a little girl: “People who feel bad about something they’ve done want other people to do the same thing so they don’t feel alone and feel better about it.” Although that bit of wisdom was intended to deter me from mischief, it came to mind reading the insistent note from the lady Courage member.
. . . I am fervently Catholic, proudly gay and happily married . . . to a wonderful woman. I stopped struggling to be straight many years ago when I came out. And I believe, with my whole heart, God made me who I am. I was not created to suffer through involuntary chastity. Nor was I made to label and think of myself as “disordered.”
– Karen Doherty
February 12, 2011
February 12, 2011
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
LGBT Catholics Celebrate Being "Wonderfully Made"
Notes from the "Laughable but Tragic" World of Courage
John Townsend Responds to His Critics
Quote of the Day – January 22, 2011
John Harvey, Founder of the Courage Apostolate, 1918-2010
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Courage
Gay Catholics, the Courage Apostolate and Reparative Therapy
The Many Forms of Courage (Part I)
The Many Forms of Courage (Part II)
The Many Forms of Courage (Part III)
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
Celebrating Our Sanctifying Truth
Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Issues: An Overview
Recommended Off-site Links:
New Ways Ministry
Catholics for Equality
Catholics for Marriage Equality USA
Catholics for Marriage Equality MN
The Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities
Catholic Rainbow Parents