Pastoral Care for Homosexual Persons

Author: Courage



In November, 1978, the late Cardinal Terrence Cook of New York invited the Rev. John F. Harvey, O.S.F.S. to come to his archdiocese to establish a spiritual support system for men and women with homosexual orientation who desired to live chaste lives. With the help of the Rev. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., and others, Fr. Harvey began the first meeting in September, 1980 at the Shrine of Mother Seton in South Ferry. COURAGE continues to be sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York

At present there are thirty-four chapters of COURAGE located in the United States and Canada. Plans to go to other dioceses are on the drawing board.


COURAGE and ENCOURAGE are respectively two spiritual support groups helping Catholic men and women - and their families - to live in accordance with the Catholic Church's pastoral teaching on homosexuality The objectives of COURAGE are as follows:

1. To live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality.

2. To dedicate our entire lives to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist.

3. To foster a spirit of fellowship in which we may share with one another our thoughts and experiences, and so ensure that none of us will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone.

4. To be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in a celibate Christian life and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining them.


In addition to individual counseling, the support groups very often conduct their sessions with the assistance of the 12 Step format developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. When appropriate, individuals are referred to Catholic therapists.

The group sessions are supplemented several times each year with insights from Catholic teaching published in the COURAGE NEWSLETTER.

The COURAGE HANDBOOK - also available from the New York Office - explains the goals and procedures to establish and conduct COURAGE and ENCOURAGE group meetings.

EnCOURAGE is the affiliate group for friends and relatives of men and women with homosexual feelings. This support group works and prays to develop a Catholic outreach to men and women who struggle with these feelings. Contact can be made through anyone of the chapters of COURAGE in the United States and Canada or by calling the *central office in New York City*.

Each year, usually during the summer months, COURAGE holds a NATIONAL CONFERENCE where hundreds of men and women gather to pray, to study and to support each other.

Individual chapters of COURAGE also sponsor DAYS OF RECOLLECTION at different times of the year to assist the members of the support groups.


"The human person made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties - but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person a "heterosexual" or a "homosexual" and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: a creature of God, and by grace, His child and heir to eternal life." (Letter from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith - October 1986).


Some persons find themselves through no fault of their own to have a homosexual orientation. Homosexuals, like everyone else, should not suffer from prejudice against basic human rights. They have a right to respect, friendship, and justice. They should have an active role in the Christian community. Homosexual activity, however, as distinguished from homosexual orientation, is morally wrong. Like heterosexual persons, homosexuals are called to give witness to chastity, avoiding, with God's grace, behavior which is wrong for them as non-marital sexual relations are wrong for heterosexuals. Nonetheless, because heterosexuals can usually look forward to marriage, and homosexuals, while their orientation continues, might not, the Christian community should provide them a special degree of pastoral understanding and care" (Excerpt from: TO LIVE IN CHRIST JESUS - National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1976).


Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, speaking on behalf of the Holy See, had the following to say about the work of COURAGE:

"This Pontifical Council for the Family supports the organization called COURAGE WHICH was founded by Father John Harvey, OSFS, for helping homosexual persons to live in accordance with the laws of God and the teaching of His Church" (7 July 1994 - Prot. N216/93)


The Society of Catholic Social Scientists has recently (1/95) alerted our American Bishops about a trend among some ministries to homosexual Catholics that contradict authentic Catholic teaching on homosexuality and are founded upon erroneous scientific assumptions. The Society highlights:

1. False statements are being made about homosexuality being biologically determined.

2. Catholic homosexuals are being told wrongly that sexual-orientation change is never possible.

3. The term "gay" is being wrongly used to describe people of a homosexual orientation who do not identify with the gay socio-political position.

4. A separate "gay spirituality" regrettably is being encouraged, and gay ministries tell us that a person who suffers from the homosexual disorder has special "gay gifts" for the Church.

5. Catholics are being informed wrongly that the homosexual condition is not disordered.

For further information on COURAGE and EnCOURAGE contact


St. Michael's Rectory 424 W. 34th Stree New York, NY 10001 Phone: 212-421-0426 Fax: 212-268-7150


NW ARKANSAS - SW MISSOURI COURAGE IN THE OZARKS Joyce Fink, Chaplain (501)253-9080

Boston, MA St. Anthonly Shrine 100 Arch St. (Downtown Boston) Fr. Devin Mullen, OFM (617) 542-6440

Brooklyn - Queens, NY Call (718) 625-0305

California Diocese of Orange Call (714) 751-5335

Central Texas Call (512) 472-8019 (ask for Jerry) Or Father Robert Becker, Chaplain (512) 926-2552 Meetings: Friday evenings

Erie, Pennsylvania Call (814) 454-0891 Rev. James Peterson 1701 Parade Street Erie, PA 16503

Lehigh Valley, PA 1861 Catasauqua Rd. Bethlehem, PA 18018 (610) 868-8938

Miami, FL Call (305) 385-3033 (ask for Dan) Or write Dan J., P.O.Box j960136 Miami, FL 33296-0136

Milwaukee, WI "Faith in Action" Call: Fr. Paul Janette (414) 769-3345

Montclair, NJ Rev. Timothy J. Shugrue (201)509-7839 Immaculate Conception 30 N. Fullerton Ave. Montclair, NJ 07042

New Orleans, LA Call (504) 288-6877 (ask for Pat) Or write Courage, P. O. Box 8074 New Orleans, LA 70812-8074

NY Mid-Hudson Valley Call: Fr. Donald Timone (914) 561-2264 or 562-7664 Or write Sacred Heart Rectory 301 Ann St. Newburgh, NY 12550

New York: The Bronx Rev. Kazimierz A. Kowalski (914) 632-3020 Meetings: Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m.

New York: White Plains St. John the Evangelist School Hall 148 Hamilton Ave. (914) 949-0439 Meetings: Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.

New York & Brooklyn Women's Group Brooklyn: (718) 625-0305 New York: (212)421-0426

Philadelphia, PA St. Peter's Rectory Corner 5th & Girard Streets (215) 587-4505 (ask for John) Meetings: Saturdays, 11:00 a.m.

Pittsburgh-Steubenville & Wheeling Call (412) 379-4777 Ask for Fr. O'Shea

Salt Lake City Utah Diocesan Pastoral Center 27 C St. Salt Lake City, Utah

Call Fr. Michael Winterer, Dir. (801) 328-8641 San Antonio, Texas St. Mary's Catholic Church ` 202 N. St. Mary's San Antonio, Texas 78205 (210)2266-8381 (Ask for Michele)

San Francisco, CA St. Ignatius Church (415) 666-0123 Ask for Courage Support Group

St. Petersburg, FL Call Msgr. John McNulty (813) 343-6200 Dr. Edward Hughes (813) 345-9126

Toledo, OH Call Family Life Office (419) 244-6711 Washington, DC St. Matthew's Cathedral 1725 Rhode Island Ave., N.W. Rev. Thomas Morrow (202)775-8247

Washington, DC/College Park, MD Fr. Robert Keffer 4141 Guilford Drive College Park, MD 20740 (301) 864-6223

Grand Rapids, MI Fr. James Chelick (616) 459-4662 Chicago, IL Call Rocco: (708) 678- 3326

Steubensville, OH Call Fr. Ronald: (614) 283-6403

CANADIAN CONNECTIONS London, Ontario Call or write Christine 629 Huron Street London, Ontario, N5Y 417 (519) 439-9680

Ottawa Rev. Jerry McCormick St. Elizabeth Church 1303 Leaside Avenue Ottawa, K1Z 7R2 (613) 725-2242

Toronto, Ontario Rev. E. Demerah, CSSR 412 Queen Street East Toronto, Ontario MSA 1T3

Vancouver, BC Rev Edwin Budiman Guardian Angels Parish 1161 Broughton Street Vancouver, BC V6 2B3 (604) 684-1254

Windsor, Ontario Rev. Michael Graham Sacred Heart Parish 1334 Benjamin Avenue Windsor, Ontario N8X 4M9 (519) 253-0910

Winnipeg, Manitoba Call Gilles: (204) 275-5183 P. O. Box 2655 Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 4B3

GREAT BRITAIN Ken Platt 47 Heathurst Rd. Sanderstead Surrey, CR2 - OBB ENGLAND