WASHINGTON, D.C., November 20, 2013 ( – Administrators at a Catholic high school in New York City have postponed a speech by a retired priest with the official Catholic Church ministry Courage, which encourages men and women with same-sex attraction to follow Catholic teaching and embrace chastity.

The New York Times reports that the schools’ parents association had requested the talk by Rev. Donald G. Timone and that it was going to take place after school hours, at the monthly parents association meeting. Only parents would have been in attendance. However, the school’s board of trustees advised the talk be postponed, and school administrators acquiesced.

Courage is a formal ministry of the Catholic Church, which aims “to help those with same-sex attractions develop an interior life of chastity … to a more complete identity in Christ.”


The original announcement on the Spellman school website had said that the issue of homosexuality “is one that tends to generate more heat than light,” and that Father Timone “will be able to illuminate our thinking along truly Catholic lines.”

An updated announcement states that Rev. Timone will not be present as planned, and that, “In due course, the issues raised by the presentation as originally announced will be discussed at a meeting of the Spellman Board of Trustees.”

Neither the Times article nor the announcement states precisely what “issues” led to the cancellation of the presentation, although the newspaper reported that “several” alumni had expressed concerns that (in the words of the Times), “the event would send an alienating message to young people, particularly those in the process of self-discovery or those with a gay relative.” A Faceook initiative agains the talk had also gained some 200 supporters.

In a statement, Spellman President Father Trevor Nicholls defended Rev. Timone, saying his “work with adolescents and young adults has brought blessings to many lives since his approach, like that of the Courage organization, is spiritual, supportive, and affirming.”

“Parents are the first educators of their children,” he said, “and our aim is to provide them from time to time with the opportunity to listen to speakers who, in one area or another, may be able to offer them information, guidance and support as they fulfill that role.”

Some Spellman students told The Times that the school itself doesn't teach anything opposed to homosexuality. One student said that in her Theology of the Body class she was taught that homosexuality was simply another type of sexuality.

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The Times article cited Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry, an organization that has been repeatedly condemned by the United States Catholic bishops for opposing Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

In a phone call with, DeBernardo said by holding the event, the school was sending a message to students, even though only parents were going to be present.

When asked about whether New Ways Ministry is opposed to the Church’s teachings on homosexual relationships, Debernardo said his organization has “always maintained there needs to be a better Catholic dialogue on the issue of committed relationships between people of the same sex.”

He accused Courage of taking “a negative view of homosexuality.”

On its website Courage says that by “helping individuals gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the Church's teachings, especially in the area of chastity,” the organization “extends the Church's invitation to a life of peace and grace. In chaste living, one finds the peace and grace to grow in Christian maturity.”

Nicholls says that the postponement is only temporary, and the school is waiting for the “formality” of board involvement. He said Father Timone is likely to be invited back. reached out to Courage, the Archdiocese of New York, and Cardinal Spellman high school about the event’s postponement. As of press time, no responses had been received.

Co-authored with John Jalsevac


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