Some questions arise regarding our ministry and pastoral care. Listed are frequently asked questions of the Courage Apostolate. We hope the responses will give you a greater understanding of our mission and service.
Why doesn’t Courage use the term “gay” or “homosexual”?
In bulletin announcements we use the term “homosexual” because most people aren’t familiar with the term same-sex attracted, the common and preferred use of Courage. We avoid terms such as “gay” and “homosexual” because they can be politically charged and are often reductionist, not expressing the full reality and dignity of each person as the created “Image of God”. It is a way of thinking that reflects our desire to grow spiritually as Catholics without confusion.
Another way of stating it; we are Roman Catholics, and any language that does not reflect the reality of that sacramental communion does not honestly support the necessary orientation and framework for discipleship within the Body of Christ.
Is it possible to be gay and Catholic?
This is a loaded question, often used to make the Church look exclusionary. The simple reality is that depends whether or not you mean same-sex attracted or same-sex-active. Most people define themselves as gay or homosexual because they identify this way given the nature of their initial sexual attraction and the strong emotions and impulses attached to it. Unlike race or ethnicity, human sexuality is much more complicated and may depend upon multiple causes and influences.
There is simply too much literature on this heated issue to give a brief and simple answer, and while the debate rages the Catechism of the Catholic Church still says it best:
2359. “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”
What is chastity? What do you mean by chastity?
This is another loaded question given today’s culture of unrestrained sexuality combined with the context of sexual misinformation and misrepresentation. We recognize with the Church that chastity and properly ordered human sexuality is the true source of creative freedom and human happiness.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2337. “Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.”
“The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.”
Do you expect people to change their orientation?
Courage is not a change-orientation group per se. It is a group that reflects upon a common understanding of same-sex attraction within the context of Church teaching. We are not opposed to persons who pursue the goal of reparation therapy, if with sound spiritual advice and discernment this is God’s will for them.
Ultimately, as Christians we are all striving for human integration, which is conformance to God’s will and our responsibility to Him, even while imperfect. This naturally engenders the sexual integration that is achieved when we seek to live lives of Christian virtue and a sexual orienting that reflects the sovereignty of God as Creator as well as our responsible participation in that Creative Act.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
2358. “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”
What if I have a friend or family member who is “gay”?
Courage membership is for persons who are same-sex attracted and who desire to live chaste lives that reflect positively on the mission and nature of the Church. Refer to the “Contacts” page for information about Encourage, a support group for friends and families of persons who are same-sex attracted.
That said, we understand the heartache and confusion on both sides. It takes a great deal of wisdom, faith, and charity to know how to best approach the topic with a sensitivity and understanding that promotes respect for the individual without sacrificing the teaching authority and mission of the Church. It is best to seek good advice, and as always, to commit the particular situation to prayer.