(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that the protesting parishioners were from the student population. LifeSiteNews regrets the error.)
TORONTO, Ontario, 22 January, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic outreach parish at the University of Toronto (UofT) has come under fire after welcoming the Catholic ministry Courage, which offers support to parishioners with unwanted same-sex attraction.
Pro-homosexual local parishioners have denounced the invitation, on one occasion walking out of the parish in protest. Opponents, even though not from the student population which the Newman Centre is intended to serve, have also pressured UofT to distance itself from the program.
Courage, a Catholic ministry endorsed by the Vatican and recognized as a pastoral partner with the Archdiocese of Toronto, helps same-sex attracted persons to “live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality,” according to its website. It uses a 12 step program based on Alcoholics Anonymous.
Last fall, the Newman Centre invited Courage into the parish after parishioners struggling with same-sex attraction requested a support group. But after the minsitry opened, about a dozen parishioners left the parish, vocally protesting the program’s Catholic outlook on sexuality.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Courage follows, teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” since they are “contrary to the natural law” in that they “close the sexual act to the gift of life.”
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The Catholic Church stresses that people struggling with homosexual tendencies are to be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” while at the same time holding that the homosexual “inclination” is “objectively disordered.”
But one parishioner accused Courage of “indoctrinat[ing] false information” about people who identify themselves as gay. Another suggested that the Catholic Church should catch up with the “21st century” since as an “adult, educated, university community […] we have come a long way in regard to understanding sexual orientation within the human community.”
The University of Toronto, at the request of homosexual activist non-students, has urged the Newman Centre to drop the support group, labeling Courage’s ministry as “inconsistent with the university’s values”.
However, Fr. Chris Cauchi, pastor of the Newman Center, has said he believes that the Courage program is an “important ministry to those who have chosen to be involved”.
The priest maintains that people with unwanted same-sex attraction should not be left alone in their struggle. “I support their wishes to gather in prayer and discussion,” he said.
Courage’s website includes numerous testimonials from those with same-sex attraction who say the program has helped them discover and live according to God’s plan for sexuality.
A formerly active homosexual man wrote: “As members of Courage, we struggle together, and the Holy Spirit breaks the chains of homosexuality to free us to be who God calls us to be. Only then are we truly free. […] Courage brought hope through a plan for healing and growth drawn from the teachings of the Church, coupled with the wisdom of expert writers in the field of homosexuality.”
A formerly active lesbian named Elena wrote: “My brothers and sisters at Courage are a second family to me, a sign that God never leaves us alone in our struggles and in our pain.”
A former lesbian wrote: “Since joining Courage, Iʼm whole again. Before Courage, I didn’t feel that wholeness. I felt dirty. My feelings were over in the corner, body wise.”