TORONTO, Ontario, May 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The head of the Vatican-endorsed Courage apostolate, one of the Catholic Church’s leading ministries to those struggling with same-sex attraction, opposes the concept of “anti-bullying” clubs for homosexually-inclined students.
“This would not be our response, the forming of a support group,” said Fr. Paul Check, executive director of Courage International. “We would suggest the assistance of a priest who understands something of the question, and perhaps working with a counselor or therapist who shares the anthropology of the Church.”
In an April 15th memo, the Ontario bishops announced that they are encouraging the province’s Catholic high schools to set up a network of clubs aimed at combating “bullying related to sexual orientation.”
In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Fr. Check expressed concern that such groups could encourage teenagers to prematurely self-identify as homosexual.
“As a matter of pastoral charity and pastoral practice, Courage would not encourage the formation of any group that would validate the self-identification of an adolescent as gay, homosexual, or lesbian,” he said. “From the standpoint of the Courage apostolate, it is unjust and uncharitable to collapse someone’s identity into what they believe their sexual inclination or appetite may be.”
“Individual people are much more rich and complex and with a great deal more dignity than simply the matter of their sexual inclination, important as that is, and I don’t minimize its importance,” he added.
The bishops’ announcement came after pressure from the province’s homosexual lobby and the Ontario government, which has mandated a controversial equity and inclusive education strategy that is particularly focused on combating “homophobia.” Pro-family groups warned that the strategy would be used to undermine Catholic sexual teaching in the province’s publicly-funded Catholic schools.
The Courage apostolate, which offers a spiritual support system to men and women struggling with same-sex attractions in a context promoting chastity, has been a target of Ontario’s homosexual lobby in recent months after reports that its information was disseminated in a Mississauga school. The international apostolate, which boasts over 100 branches in twelve countries, has a Toronto branch supported by the archdiocese.
Fr. Check was clear that Courage is an apostolate for adults and that they do not do work in schools.
But rather than forming support groups, the priest said that his organization would advise “individual care” for the family and the child. He said such care should “include a priest who is familiar with and has some training in or understanding of same-sex attraction and the Church’s pastoral response to it,” who would be complemented by “a therapist or counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist, who understands the Church’s anthropology and shares it.”
Only a week before the bishops announced the clubs, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Education told LifeSiteNews that such clubs could not help the homosexually-inclined students “reform their sexuality.”
The head of the Ontario Catholic trustees union, Nancy Kirby, who co-signed the April 15th memo with Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, has insisted the clubs will not be used to “cure” students struggling with homosexual temptations.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the authoritative book of the teachings of the Church, says the homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered.” While recognizing that many are not capable of overcoming homosexual temptations, the Catechism says Christians are called to chastity and to seek a well-ordered sexuality as far as possible.
Most Rev. Gerard P. Bergie, Bishop of St. Catharines
Chair of the Ontario bishops’ Education Commission
P.O. Box 875
St. Catharines (ON) L2R 6Z4
Tel: (905) 684-0154
Fax: (905) 684-7551
E-mail: [email protected]