The Trouble with “Courage”

In his response to Martin Pendergast on the “Courage” apostolate, Fr Philip Bochanski of Courage USA grievously confuses celibacy and chastity, referring to both in the same sentence as if they were the same thing, which they are not. He is correct that “The demand of the Gospel is chastity for everyone”. That is also the instruction of the Catholic Catechism:

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…..”

That sexual integration in a relationship cannot be equated with celibacy, which is sexual abstinence.

I am surprised (but delighted) that Fr states that “Courage does not demand or impose “mandatory celibacy” on persons who experience same-sex attractions”. That is not a demand of the Gospel – although it is one made by the Catholic Catechism. The question is, is this Catechism teaching true? Does it lead one to God?

There’s a problem here, because the Catechism also tells us that

2333 Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.

In Amoris Laetitiae, has written extensively and movingly about the joy and value of love, including carnal, physical love in a committed, self-giving relationship. How are gay men and lesbians are keep to both parts of the Catholic teaching, on accepting their sexual identity, and experiencing chastity “integrated into the relationship of one person to another” – while simultaneously keeping to the Catechism demand of sexual abstinence.

This is why, based on their real-world experience, so many gay and lesbian Catholics have found that it is impossible  to resolve this contradiction, and based on the core principle of the primacy of conscience, have concluded that in the area of sexual doctrines, the Catechism is simply wrong. It is also why the experience of the full range of apostolates to lgbt Catholics, those who respect this conclusion in conscience, like Quest nationally, and the lgbt group meeting at Farm Street parish in London, have a track record of attracting people and helping them to find God – and Courage , which has a long-established group in London, notably does not.

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