On Tuesday, August 11, Michael asked supporters of The Wild Reed to contact the Courage Apostolate in New York. The American Psychological Association (APA) had just issued a public and pointed rebuke of therapies that seek to alter a person’s sexual orientation. I answered Michael’s call and sent the following email to Courage’s New York office.
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to encourage “Courage Ministries” to accept the recent directive from the American Psychological Association (APA) that rules out “reparative therapy” for homosexual persons. It has been ruled out officially as a legitimate mental health approach.
Courage should remove any links to organizations or therapists which promote or defend reparative therapy. It should also state prominently in its publications that it does not endorse such techniques. To use an analogy: any medical organization that itself endorsed in any way or linked to any other organization that promoted "bleeding" for persons with infectious diseases would not only be mocked, but shunned by the public at large. Courage should classify reparative therapy in the same terms as bleeding.
A couple of days later I was emailed this response:
Dear Mr Howe,
Courage is a spiritual support apostolate of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church teaches that there is no obligation for any person to undergo any psychological therapies at all. That said, Courage supports members who do desire to explore therapeutic options. We are with the Church . . . not the world.
The APA directive is written by a tiny 6-person task force, (who, not incidentally, admit to an activist bias and who allowed no dissenting voice onto their task force!) and approved by a committee . . . not by the full membership. It is certainly not the last word in science! We accept our directives from God through His competent authorities . . . and the APA isn't one of them. I don't mean to sound flip, but I am tired and it's Friday.
God bless you and Keep you in His Love.
Cordially in Christ,
I cannot say I was surprised, but that did not lessen my outrage. On the one hand, Courage seems to adopt a “hands off” attitude: “Oh, we really don’t endorse reparative therapy. We’re just communicating the many options available.” However, the second paragraph dismisses the APA’s report: “a tiny 6-person task force” with an “activist bias . . . approved by a committee . . . not the full membership.”
To me, this is disingenuous, condescending and dangerous:
1) The APA’s report clearly states that “gay reparative therapy” is not just a therapy without merit. Their review of many studies has shown that it can lead to depression and suicidal tendencies. More than a few gay men would shout, “Amen!” to that declaration. My allusion to bleeding, therefore, is quite apt. It would be inconceivable that any physician who would “just offer the option” of bleeding to a patient. That is an option that simply is not countenanced in modern medicine. It is positively harmful to one’s physical health. Likewise, reparative therapy to mental wholeness. The research seems clear: It is not a “neutral” therapy. It is often harmful and frequently fatal. It demonstrates gross irresponsibility for any organization that would claim to advocate for the Catholic “culture of life” to so much as allude to such therapies.
2) Had the full committee’s vote been less decisive (125-4 in favor of the report), Courage’s critique of a “tiny 6-person task force” with approval “by a committee . . . not the full membership” might have to be taken seriously. Moreover, I have not read a single article in which a significant number of mental health professionals has expressed umbrage at the methodology or conclusions of the APA’s committee. To draw a parallel: if a committee of world bishops had approved a synodal statement by this kind of margin, it would be taken very seriously, if not authoritatively, within most Catholic circles. For Courage to dismiss it so cavalierly only reinforces the criticism that the Catholic Church does not take the insights of the social sciences very seriously, in contrast to the call of the Second Vatican Council. Oh, and since when have God’s “competent authorities” instructed Courage to dismiss the APA?
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• It's Official: APA Opposes "Reparative Therapy"
• The Continuum Just Shrank
• Holding the Courage Apostolate Accountable
• “Curing” Homosexuality
• Debunking NARTH (Part I)
• Debunking NARTH (Part II)
• What Scientists in the UK Are Saying About Homosexuality
• The Real Meaning of Courage
• The Many Forms of Courage (Part I)
• The Many Forms of Courage (Part II)
• The Many Forms of Courage (Part III)
• Beyond Courage
Recommended Off-site Links:
The APA Says “No Evidence” in Support of Ex-Gay Therapy - Wayne Besen (TruthWinsOut.org, August 5, 2009).
APA Passes Resolution Against Ex-Gay Therapy - Jim Burroway (Box Turtle Bulletin, August 5, 2009).
Exodus International Responds to the APA Resolution on Change Therapy - Jim Burroway (Box Turtle Bulletin, August 6, 2009).
NARTH Responds to the APA Resolution on Change Therapy - Jim Burroway (Box Turtle Bulletin, August 7, 2009).
Celibacy as a Therapy Goal - Wayne Besen (TruthWinsOut.org, August 6, 2009).
Thank you for sharing your efforts at dialogue with the Courage Apostolate - and for writing about this experience for The Wild Reed.
When Pat writes: "We accept our directives from God through His competent authorities . . . and the APA isn't one of them," I wonder what other medical or healthcare organization he would dismiss so readily.
When it comes to issues such as sexuality and sexual orientation, many within the "official" church resist the insights and advances of the modern world. You can be sure, however, that this resistance doesn't extend to other issues, for e.g. cardiology or mental health. If they or their family members needed help and/or advice in such areas you can be sure they'd want and expect the most up-to-date knowledge and professional care. Why should such knowledge and care be denied LGBT people?
The Church also ignores The American Psychological Association's stance on the raising of children by same sex couples. It's like the Church hierarchy lives in a world where facts don't matter.
I find it phenomenally incredible how intolerant homosexuals and in fact most Catholic progressives are.
They only tolerate people who agree with them.
One would think that freedom of speech, thought, action, belief, etc. would be primary tenets of their personal beliefs, whether or not they believe in God. And I know a Catholic who attends the Basilica every Sunday who is not sure if there is a God.
But, in this instance, Mr. Howe becomes "outraged" at the "cowardice" of the person from the Courage office who responded politely to him.
Is he threaten by someone who he probably doesn't know attempting to change the way he has been living?
I used to be a bad drunk. I am no longer but I am aware of it every day as I drink moderately. I didn't use AA; I used prayer.
Why isn't it possible that someone might use prayer in their effort to change their ways from a homosexual lifestyle to a celibate or heterosexual one?
Is it that they know inside that the life-shortening homosexual lifestyle, often practiced with much unsafe sex, alcohol and drugs, is not really irreversible?
Is it that they know they should change the way they have been living if they don't want to cut twenty years of their life? But they're having too much fun.
We've virtually banned cigarettes from civilized society. Is it about time that we ban unsafe homosexual activities from civilized society?
Is it about time that we allow others to do as they please rather than engage in tantrums if what please them doesn't please you?
Ray from MN.
Ask yourself if you truly could change your heterosexual orientation and become gay. Ask yourself if you could change, not just your outward orientation, but your night dreams and fantasy life.
Orientation is not exactly like addiction to cigarettes or alcohol.
What the APA is saying is there is as much freedom in being homosexual as their is heterosexual. That would be very little.
Freedom comes in whether one chooses to sexually express that orientation, not in the desire to change it.
Celibacy is a valid option for either orientation and prayer is helpful.
I can't imagine that most heterosexual parents would consider reparative therapy for their sexually promiscuous heterosexual children. Abstinence classes are not reparative therapy. Not by a long shot. Neither are AA meetings.
Reparative therapy is incredibly invasive and coercive. As Chris says in his post, it is not neutral on the harmful scale. Since it's underlying theoretical base is Freudian, parents of gay children come under just as much of an attack as the gay children themselves and usually the parents are totally unprepared for this. They feel betrayed.
I'm all for reducing unsafe homosexual activity, just as I'm for reducing all unsafe heterosexual activity, and that activity is both far far more widespread than gay activity and far more damaging to society. Ask any abused or raped woman, any spouse who's been victimized by adultery, or any pregnant teen age girl.
On the radar of damaging sexual activity, gay sex is a very small blip. Catholicism seems to me to be desperately trying to make it cover the whole radar screen. I can't help but wonder why?
Michael, I'm writing to thank you for this posting and to offer support.
In my experience, people who employ the tired old "liberals-as-intolerant" meme are not in the least interested in real discussion or in dealing with intolerance.
They're interested only in discrediting and slamming those who challenge them to think.
And so they use demeaning psychobabble terms like "tantrums" to suggest that the object of their scorn is juvenile and not worthy of adult respect.
Thank you for keeping our attention on what's real and true--e.g., on the fact that bogus therapies designed to change sexual orientation damage human beings.
And that's something that ought to outrage anyone who is interested in following Jesus--as much as disinformation about gays as unhealthy and doomed to early deaths ought to outrage those of us interested in virtue and the moral life.
Another perspective on the APA decision from a psychologist and priest, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, cfr, here.
It makes no difference what I would or wouldn't do.
The issue is: Why does it upset you so much that another person would like to change his orientation. Maybe he will fail. Most people fail at lots of endeavors. I know I have.
Why do you and most of the homosexual community get upset enough when a homosexual attempts to change orientation that people like Howe use words like "outraged" and "cowardice."
If they don't know him or anybody he know, how does it affect them?
I don't know if orientation can be changed. I haven't studied it. Some people say it can. Some say it can't.
Some said Mt Everest couldn't be climbed without oxygen until it was done. Somebody proved the English Channel could be swum.
I would like to believe that at a minimum a person could become chaste and celibate.
No doubt there are many priests, brothers and nuns who have succeeded.
Those who say it can't be done don't appreciate the power of prayer.
If God could create the world in an instant, why couldn't God help someone deal with sexual orientation issues?
My only logical speculation is that if it truly is possible to change sexual orientation, many homosexuals fear facing that option. I wouldn't know why.
Ray from MN,
You seem to be quite agitated about my use of the words "outraged" and "cowardice." I believe the words are perfectly appropriate...and I already justified them in my original post.
1. Cowardice is evidenced when the truth hits you in the face and you refuse, due to hubris usually, to alter your approach and opinion.
2. I'm outraged because, as the APA states, reparative therapy can and does lead--at least at times--to depression and suicide. Wouldn't you, Ray, be outraged by a doctor who referred your loved ones to an oncologist, for instance, whose treatments resulted in your loved one's taking their own lives? In fact, "outrage" is really an understated word.
Beyond that, Ray, a few questions for you:
1. Do you love homosexuals?
2. Do you like homosexuals?
3. Have you ever sat down and just talked to a gay person, no agenda, no judgments, just an interest in knowing their experience?
Honestly, I would appreciate your honest response to these questions.
With all due respect to Fr. Benedict, many of whose spiritual works I have benefited from, he's whistling in the dark. He calls for a massive rejection of the APA's statement. It ain't gonna happen. Did he miss the overwhelming vote of approval? I wonder if the good father has kept in much contact with his fellow mental health therapists (as I do), because if he did, he would know that the vast, vast majority consider their colleagues in NARTH, Inc. to be "quacks."
Groeschel makes a testable assertion: "Those who made the statement — really only a single APA committee — claim that there are at least 80 studies indicating that reparative treatment is not helpful to people of homosexual orientation.
They do admit, however, that most of these studies were actually made more than 30 years ago — and that the quality of the research involved was not very high."
Where is a bibliography of, or a citation list, of these studies?
Christopher, I apologize that I didn't read carefully enough to see you wrote the posting for Michael's blog.
My comments and expressions of support were directed to you as author--and it goes without saying, to Michael as the blog owner.
This is very revealing of the Courage agenda. That the policies they approve lead to suicides does not bother them at all. They are ideological storm-troopers rewarded by a decadent authority whose only worry about homosexuality is that it undermines authoritative teachings of the Magisterium. Recall that all bishops become bishops on the strength of public embrace of those teachings. If gays are not "objectively disordered" the the church and those bishops in particular are shown to be lying.
I'm not Ray but I'd like to respond.
You state "Cowardice is evidenced when the truth hits you in the face and you refuse, due to hubris usually, to alter your approach and opinion"." I could easily apply the exact same definition to yourself and others of your mindset. The Church is "hitting" you in the face with the Truth and you refuse to alter your approach and opinion. I guess this one comes down to the Pilate question: What is truth? You choose the truth proposed by the APA, I choose the truth proposed by the Church. Which group was promised to be led into all truth by the Christ and the Holy Spirit?
I'll answer your questions to Ray if you don't mind either.
1. I do love homosexuals, just as I love all people. It isn't always easy, as it isn't always easy to truly love and wish the good for anybody but that is what confession is for.
2. I'm not sure what you mean when you ask about liking homosexuals. I guess maybe a response would be that I don't run away if I notice a person(s) who appears homosexual. I don't make faces at homosexuals and I don't make nasty comments. Sometimes I silently pray that they would be open to the Truth revealed by God but that's about it.
3. I have not had a specific conversation with a gay person in the way you describe. I'd be open to it, as I would listen to anyone who wanted to talk about life. It doesn't mean I'd approve of all their actions. But I don't always approve of the actions of my friends either and I tell them that. It's part of that love thing again, telling them the truth about their sometimes bad decisions and behavior. I'd expect the same from them to me.
Ray, this is directly from my own post: "Celibacy is a valid option for either orientation and prayer is helpful."
One last thing. Some of the fear you refer to, that of homosexuals fearing the possibility of change, is really not fear.
A lot of Christian gays and lesbians have considered that option very seriously. Some have even attempted reparative therapy as a comparatively free choice. Most have failed over the long run, and it's that failure more than fear, that makes Christian gays think twice.
One gay client of mine put it this way: "I'm not sure I want to set my faith in Jesus up for failure." His faith, weak as you might think it is, was more important to him than his orientation. He's celibate by the way.
Even NARTH has now gotten to the point where they judge the success of their program on identity change--not orientation change per se. In other words if a person says "I now identify as heterosexual, even though I still have some homosexual leanings." NARTH defines that as success. I say that person is engaging in orientation self deception.
You didn't answer my rhetorical question. Why is a certain aspect of Catholicism trying to cover the entire sexual sin radar screen with the homosexual blip?
"My mindset?" Do you claim to know my mind, Aaron? And what precisely is in my mind that the truth of the Church contradicts? My post asserted that reparative therapy should not be promoted by Catholic agencies that exist to minister to homosexuals. Unless I missed something, the magisterium of the Church has never recommended, let alone, mandated reparative therapy. In fact, the little teaching there is on the topic from the Catechism itself is that psychologically, homosexuality has proven to be very difficult to analyze etiologically.
Today has been a very busy day for me, and so will be tonight.
I haven't read any comments yet other than my enthusiastic "social secretary's" support note.
I'll be able to start answering about noon tomorrow, I would think.
I deleted that comment as I didn't think someone else should be speaking for you.
You posted this: In my experience, people who employ the tired old "liberals-as-intolerant" meme are not in the least interested in real discussion or in dealing with intolerance.
They're interested only in discrediting and slamming those who challenge them to think.
You are changing the subject again, William.
I don't believe that I have given my opinion at all. I am not at all an expert in the field. I have emphasized my questions.
And the main question is: "Why are you, or particularly Howe upset when someone who you don't know and have not seen wants to engage in activities at his own expense that will attempt to change his lifestyle? Please tell me why this is an important issue for you.
1. Cowardice is evidenced when the truth hits you in the face and you refuse, due to hubris usually, to alter your approach and opinion.
Well, as Pontius once said, "What is truth? Progressives know as much as anybody about relativism of their concepts of the truths of the Catholic Church.
Do you get upset when the Flat Earth Society and other similar crackbook groups hold their annual conventions? Or more seriously, when homeopathists and astrologers meet?
But you do seem to get very upset when homosexuals express dissatisfaction with their lifestyle and want to change.
You don't get upset when drug addicts, smokers or alcoholics try to quit, do you? That is also very difficult and many are not able to quit. Is it foolish for them to try?
2. I'm outraged because, as the APA states, reparative therapy can and does lead--at least at times--to depression and suicide.
Isn't it true that the CDC has also found that homosexuals have a high level of depression and suicide?
1. Do you love homosexuals?
That is an interesting question.
For much of my life I struggled with the Second Great Commandment "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
I wasn't sure that I loved myself. How could I love my neighbor? Not that many years ago I truly began to realize that Jesus did love me and if He loved me, I must be lovable.
That's probably a major reason why I never married.
Even though I knew that I loved my Mom, I had an extremely difficult time saying that to her. When I finally did, and I was over 50 at the time, her response was "Well, one assumes certain things." Our family just wasn't very demonstrative in that way. And my Mom was a virtual saint, the most tolerant and understanding and non-judgmental person I have ever met.
So, the answer to your question is: "Yes, I love homosexuals as God's creations and I have a difficult time saying that to them and to everybody else."
2. Do you like homosexuals?
See my first answer. But I haven't had many close contacts with them. See my next answer.
[out of space; see my next comment]
[continued from previous comment]
3. Have you ever sat down and just talked to a gay person, no agenda, no judgments, just an interest in knowing their experience?
In the 80's I was involved in commercial printing sales and one of my company's biggest accounts was in San Francisco. One of their main buyers was a homosexual in an active relationship with one man.
We talked on the phone almost every day at times and I probably visited him in San Francisco four or five times. One time he and his partner wanted to take me to what they said was the "hottest gay bar" in San Francisco for a drink. This was at the height of the initial AIDS epidemic when the SF papers had two obituary pages, one devoted just to AIDS deaths.
Actually, I found it to be rather boring other than in retrospect there were no women there. A few children with their fathers. It might have been a sports bar, but there were no games on the TV.
Finally I got word that my contact has lost his job in a downsizing of the company and I ultimately flew out to say goodbye and meet his replacement.
As we said goodbye, rather than shake hands, he grabbed me and gave me a big smackeroo, right on the lips. Needless to say, I was rather stunned. But I didn't say anything or make any negative reaction.
My main thought was "Did we exchange any fluids?" We didn't.
I didn't feel threatened. At one time in my life I probably would have been. But long ago I met a guy who worked at a "large local department store", as the euphemism goes, here in the Twin Cities and he related a story of how he had attended the book signing of a homosexual football player, the first to "come out." He laughed and said, "Every queen in town was there."
I asked him "Didn't you feel threatened?" He responded, "Why should I? When you are certain of your own sexuality, how could they be a threat?" I am certain of my own sexuality.
Back to the original question, Kevin. Why is it upsetting when someone you don't know or have never seen at his own expense attempts to change his sexual orientation? Where is the threat to you?
Great post, Aaron.
I can agree with all that you said. It's much better to be concise, but I've lived long enough that I felt my history might be of some interest.
Ray, you may not be an "expert in the field" of so-called reparative therapy, but you clearly have a strong opinion on homosexuality and homosexual relationships.
Accordingly, with a little tweaking, your central question could just as well be asked of you.
"Why are you upset when someone who you don't know and have not seen wants to engage in activities that reinforces and affirms who he/she is as a gay person? Please tell me why this is an important issue for you."
"Isn't it true that the CDC has also found that homosexuals have a high level of depression and suicide?"
Yes, but what exactly causes these high levels? The answer, Ray, may surprise you.
In September 2008 researchers at the University of Minnesota published a study showing that the degree of internalized homo-negativity (negative attitude towards homosexuality) among homosexual men is what predicts poor mental and sexual health – not the degree of homosexuality. The study appeared in the September issue of the Journal of Homosexuality.
According to Simon Rosser, Ph.D., a researcher in the School of Public Health and principal investigator of the study, the results of the study helps inform the debate of whether or not being homosexual is healthy. “This study is a missing link in our understanding of the relationship between sexuality and health,” he said. “It provides new evidence that negative attitudes towards homosexuality, not homosexuality itself, are associated with both poorer mental and sexual health outcomes seen in sexual minorities. Conversely, positive attitudes towards homosexuality are associated with better mental and sexual health.”
For more than 150 years, scholars and educators have debated whether homosexuality is an objective disorder or whether societal prejudice, not homosexuality, leads to the elevated rates of depression, drug use, and HIV/STD epidemics seen in studies of gay men. Rosser called this study groundbreaking because it directly tested both theories and found evidence that only one was accurate.
“Given the debates in many religious denominations about homosexuality, and in society about homosexuals and civil rights, it’s also timely,” Rosser said. “In particular, the old advice to gay men to fight, deny, or minimize their homosexuality likely only increases depression, greater isolation, and poorer sexual health. In short, viewing homosexuality as a disorder is not only inaccurate, it may be harmful as well.”
(NOTE: For a PDF version of this study, click here.)
Michael, thanks for sharing this information. I particularly resonated with Dr. Rosser's last quote:
"The old advice to gay men to fight, deny, or minimize their homosexuality likely only increases depression, greater isolation, and poorer sexual health. In short, viewing homosexuality as a disorder is not only inaccurate, it may be harmful as well"
That's certainly been my experience and the experiences of gay people I know. I'd imagine it would be Ray's and Aaron's experience too if they were told and encouraged to "fight, deny, or minimize" their heterosexuality.
I wonder if they would encourage people unhappy because of such pressure to try and "change" to homosexuality?
Derek, I think the Roman Catholic priesthood is a pretty good indication of what happens when either orientation fights to minimize their sexuality. Their statistics for depression and addictive behavior is quite a bit higher than the general public. Fr. Cozzens work speaks to this very point.
You commented: One gay client of mine put it this way: "I'm not sure I want to set my faith in Jesus up for failure." His faith, weak as you might think it is, was more important to him than his orientation. He's celibate by the way.
I fail regularly. That's why I am often seen in the confession box. On occasion after only a few days.
I don't think your client's faith is weak. It's probably just like mine.
We are all sinners. Jesus set up His Church to help us get to heaven. He know that we are all sinners. Someplace in the Bible it says that "The just man sins seven times a day."
When Fr. Corapi encounters braggarts who claim that they haven't sinned, he takes them through the ten commandments starting with "Thou shalt love the Lord ty God with thy whole heart, whole soul, whole mind and whole strength.
That's sin no. one for all of us.
I know there would be no way to get to heaven if it were not for God's Divine Mercy. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy has been a big help to me. So has the Litany of Humility, written 100 years ago or so by Cardinal Merry del Val.
You posted: ...You clearly have a strong opinion on homosexuality and homosexual relationships.
I don't know that I have a strong view on them. I do think they are wrong.
My strong views comes from homosexual activities that are trying to change my Church into something that they want.
My strong views are also on the homosexual priests and bishops who have abused teen-age boys ("post-pubescent"), perhaps 82% of the cases, that have cost my Church, its parishes and parishioners billions of dollars and perpetrated untold harm upon their victims, parents and friends. Not to mention the scandal that they have created that has driven tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands, or more, away from the Church.
See the John Jay Study.
My strong views are on the homosexuals who invade the Cathedral of St. Paul on Pentecost Sundays, showing off their beliefs that are antithetical to the beliefs of my Church.
Most of them probably aren't even Catholic and probably haven't seen the inside of a confession box in eons.
You posted: ...study showing that the degree of internalized homo-negativity (negative attitude towards homosexuality) among homosexual men is what predicts poor mental and sexual health – not the degree of homosexuality.
I don't disagree that that is most certainly one of the reasons for the significant numbers of homosexual suicides and depression.
Now we're getting somewhat afar from my knowledge.
I would just say that if indeed that there were a high rate of suicides (and depression)among those attempting to change via "Courage" or other methods, that rate probably would have been significantly impacted by prejudice against homosexuals.
With respect to prejudice, I would just say in answer to a question NOT asked by Kevin in an earlier comment the following.
In my Army experience (four years in the 60s) and a few times subsequently, I have encountered some men who have used, braggingly, the expression "trolling for queers" and who described briefly the physical abuse they did to their victims.
On every occasion, I physically felt the impact of that expression in my stomach and I to my knowledge never had a conversation with any of those individuals again.
That is a crime, it is awful and it is inhuman!
Ray, loved your post.
Ain't it the truth, those two love commandments He left us are just plain sneaky traps for our egos. Just when mankind was getting the list thing down, He went and changed the whole game.
Do you suppose He thought we might be growing up a little?
I thank you for your candid, and brave, acts of self-disclosure in your last few posts. Knowing each other as human beings always facilitates dialogue.
To respond to your inquiry as to why I would oppose homosexuals who are seeking to change their orientation, what so unnerves me about that...My answer is...
Nothing, really. I am a bit saddened by the gay person who, in my view, is self-hating, but I would say you misunderstand my post, Ray. I am going after the ministries (like Courage) who reference therapies that, tragically, are not only "neutral" in their effect, but downright harmful.
To continue my analogy: I would not condemn the poor soul who would seek some voodoo doctor to cure their lymphoma. The desparate soul is to be pitied. I would be "outraged," however, at any physician or medical organization that would refer a loved one of mine to such a quack.
Ray, we’ve discussed the John Jay Study in relation to this previous Wild Reed post.
In short, your interpretation of the findings of the John Jay Study doesn’t jive with those of Louise Haggett’s or Richard Sipe’s. And as I’m sure you’re aware, Sipe is probably the leading expert in the studying of clergy abuse.
Following are some excerpts from Louise Haggett’s article, “Clergy Sexual Abuse, Mandatory Celibacy, and Homosexual Priests.”
”Nowhere in the John Jay College Report is it indicated that homosexuality is a factor. Conclusions drawn about homosexuality were merely commentary by clergy panel members on EWTN the day the report was made public. There is no basis for the argument that homosexual priests were responsible for the majority of the abuse, and there are too many arguments against it.
“. . . The vast majority of male adolescent victims were altar servers when they encountered their priest perpetrators (Haggett 2005). Until the late 1980s, all altar servers were male. In his first clergy abuse presentation to some 300 priests at the National Federation of Priest Council, Fr. Canice Connors, head of St. Luke’s Treatment Center, told the priest audience that sexual abuse addiction was due to ‘immaturity being encouraged in seminaries. Seminarians are told to not look into a woman’s eyes – beware of [the] feminine. The feeling then becomes one of ‘if girls are off limits, maybe boys are OK’ (Connors, 1993).
”The John Jay College Study reports the highest percentage of clergy abuse incidents occurred in 1970. 63% of the victims who responded to the Bingo study had been abused prior to 1970, a period in which Sipe concluded that only 30% of the priesthood had a homosexual orientation. I would therefore argue that homosexuality was not a factor in clergy sexual abuse in the 60s, 70s or part of the 80s, and John Jay College indications were that the abuse slowed down beginning in the 80s when the homosexual factor may have been getting stronger.
“. . . The John Jay College Study excluded all victims above 18 years of age. 36.6% of the Bingo Report female victims were over 20 years old. Only 1.8% were adult males. Had adult women been included in the John Jay College study, a different demographic pattern would have resulted.
“. . . Finally, according to Richard Sipe, ‘there is not one scientific investigation that justifies a conclusion that there is a connection between orientation and sexual abuse of minors.’
“Sipe also says that: ‘The Vatican’s focus on homosexual orientation is a smoke screen to cover the pervasive and greater danger of exposing the sexual behavior of clerics in general.’”
I second Kevin's expression of gratitude for your honest sharing of your experiences and thoughts on this topic. It helps me understand where you're coming from and what has informed and shaped your perspective. Thanks for that.
Very interesting discussion here. I have learned quite a bit. I wish that we could get through to Courage because some of the bishops that dislike gay people want to promote Courage. We have Courage in our diocese but I was never able to find out where they met or when the meetings were because the priest in charge said that it was confidential because the participants didn't want people to know who they were. The priest wouldn't give me his name and told me, "We are not a pro-homosexual organization." I felt somewhat insulted and figured out that he really didn't want to talk to me so that was it. The people at the office in New York are very nice but I wish that I could get through to them a little better.
I read Father Grosechel's comments. I wonder how much Dr. Nicolosi paid him. Did you notice how he was endorsing Dr. Nicolosi? Dr. Nicolosi doesn't have a lot of support but for some reason he is in bed with Courage. He was a guest speaker at their annual conference. I expressed my concern to Courage for allowing this. I think it is an outrage that they are promoting this man.
You commented Ray, loved your post.
Ain't it the truth, those two love commandments
Thank you. That's why Jesus call those two the Greatest Commandments. If I can't keep those two, I'm going to have a devil of a time, pun intended, with the ten given to Moses.
You posted this: Ray, we’ve discussed the John Jay Study in relation to this previous Wild Reed post.
I'm not willing to discuss anything new until we resolve my initial question --- "Why are people greatly upset when people they don't know attempt to change sexual orientation."
Actually, Ray, I didn't remind you about our previous discussion about the John Jay Study so as to facilitate further discussion. I just wanted to set the record straight for others reading this thread.
As to your initial question, I would say that people get upset by the presuppositions and judgment-calls that underlie the idea that people can change their sexual orientation.
Why not encourage them to accept themselves as they are?
I think "change therapy" is a form of cowardice. People who pursue it are running away from who it is that God made them to be.
Growing into awareness and acceptance, not to mention holistically living out one's sexuality - gay straight, or bisexual - can be a challenging, uncomfortable, and difficult journey. For individuals, churches, and organizations to turn around and say that these very human feelings somehow signify an inherent screw-up in one's sexual orientation - and that therefore a person should seek to change their orientation - is reprehensible.
I'm not hearing you say, Ray, that a young, self-identified straight person who is experiencing feelings of discomfort around sex should seek to change his/her orientation. Why? Because you clearly have a certain view about the homosexual orientation that automatically makes it inferior, something suspect, something that one shouldn't accept, let alone integrate into one's life. It's this way of thinking that "upsets" many people.
Thankfully, however, it's a way of thinking that's increasingly being rejected by the younger generations. For my nieces and nephews and their peers, for instance, homosexuality and gay marriage just aren't the issue that they are for some older people. The world's moving forward. And so should the Church. I have no doubt it will, though probably not in my life time. Still, I'm committed to doing what I can to facilitate the change that's already underway.
You made this comment: I am going after the ministries (like Courage) who reference therapies that, tragically, are not only "neutral" in their effect, but downright harmful.
Thank you for your nice words about my earlier comments.
As I am neither a research scientist nor a therapist, much of what I will say here will be my beliefs. I belong to no "psychological school."
One of the most interesting books that I have read in my life is "The Vital Balance" by Karl Menninger back in 1963.
For me, as a non scholar, the best part of the book is the appendix where he lists the history of psychiatric classifications, beginning with the ancient Greek, Hippocrates (pp. 419-89. That history seems to be one of constant change over the years continues so to this day.
The 20th century seems to have been one of continued change with the academics lined up behind Freud, Adler, Jung, Skinner, etc. (I admit that my formal knowledge ended with Skinner when he was at the peak of his reputation when I was in college. I understand Skinner is in eclipse these days and fierce arguments probably still are waged among the students of the other three. But I know nothing about that. Skinner was the one with whom I was most familiar because one of my friends was a huge advocate and now is a prominent professor at UCLA.
We argued. I could not believe in Skinner's theories as a Catholic. It just didn't seem right, although I had no proof.
Along those same lines, the psychological schools want more than anything else in the world to be real scientists. Many really believe that if they can just identify the factors of human behavior, they will be able to predict human behavior.
Social Science, Sociology, Political Science and even Economics books are full of mathematical formulae used to "prove" academic theories on how people as individuals or groups did, do or will act.
In 1970 at the U of Minn., it was even a requirement for students to have a year of calculus before they could be admitted to the School of Public Affairs. That has changed too, I believe.
The American Psychological Association when it comes to deciding policy, doesn't bother often with some of these theories. They rely on votes of their membership, mostly people with PhD's whose dissertations are no longer read because they are irrelevant, to decide whether or not homosexuality is "normal" or "abnormal", whether sexual orientation may be be changed, and probably many other issues dealing with human behavior.
As I mentioned, I am not well read in these matters.
So what these people say about Courage and NARTH isn't particularly relevant, it would seem to me. There are others who say that Courage and NARTH are relevant. And whatever they are saying today, it will be greatly different 20 years from now.
Rather than relying on the votes of the APA membership decided on by committee, or by the body as a whole, wouldn't it make more sense to let therapists experiment, using normal safeguards, to see how it would be possible to change sexual behavior of all kinds?
It is obvious that some people have changed their orientation, many people have become celibate.
It would be interesting to see an impartial study of the incidents of "harm" that you imply to determine the type and degree of harm, and to determine the origin. Was it the reparative therapy; or was it some other earlier incidents in their life?
Going back to another argument, the folks who are "Pro-Choice" when it comes to a woman's right to control her body are not "Pro-Choice" when it comes to a man's right to control his body.
Also, no pro-abortion researcher could ever get funding to find out if there are any adverse effects because of a woman having had an abortion. And you know that too.
You commented: I second Kevin's expression of gratitude for your honest sharing of your experiences and thoughts on this topic...
Thank you, Michael. Civil discussions are more productive.
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