The Roman Catholic Church and Homosexuality
Support groups for Catholic
homosexuals and bisexuals
There are two main support groups for Roman Catholic gays and lesbians:
Dignity and Courage:
Dignity, is an independent support group for "lesbians,
gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their families and friends." 1
They began as a counseling group in San Diego, CA, in 1969, and evolved to become a support group. Dignity
became a national organization in 1973. They have 52 chapters in the U.S. The church severed its connections with
Dignity in 1986, and does not allow Dignity meetings in church facilities.
Dignity has two main functions: to support sexual minorities, and to "serve as a proactive voice for
reform in the Catholic Church and society." 2 Their statement of position and
purpose states, in part:
"We believe that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
persons can express their sexuality in a manner that is consonant with
Christ's teaching. We believe that we can express our sexuality physically,
in a unitive manner that is loving, life-giving, and life-affirming. We
believe that all sexuality should be exercised in an ethically responsible
and unselfish way.
DIGNITY is organized to unite gay, lesbian, bisexual and
Catholics, as well as our families, friends and loved ones in order to
develop leadership, and be an instrument through which we may be heard by
and promote reform in the Church."
Dignity promotes and end to sexism and homophobia in both the church and society. They support
same-sex marriage, adoption by same-sex couples, and an end to discrimination -- both inside the church and in the general culture -- against sexual minorities.
Dignity has sponsored Solidarity Sunday since 1995, held on the Sunday immediately before OCT-11, which is "Coming Out" day. It is a time
Catholics, other Christians and all people are invited to show support for
and solidarity with God's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children."
Dignity USA states that:
"Solidarity Sunday is dedicated to the memory of the many who lost their lives
through violence because of who they were or who they were perceived to be. May
their deaths not have been in vain. Let us work together to end verbal and
physical violence against anyone, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders!"
They promote a Solidarity Pledge and
Solidarity Interfaith Prayer. 3
The Solidarity Pledge states:
"I will work for civil and human rights for all people, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgender. Civil rights are not special rights.
I will seek to stop jokes and unkind language about anyone, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgender when spoken in my presence. Words that hurt and bigotry are not funny.
I will speak out against any slander, debasement, lies or dehumanization of anyone, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgender, including when spoken by political or religious leaders. Violent speech leads to physical violence.
I will work to stop physical violence against anyone, including violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals or the transgender. Violence against any person is violence against all people." 9
Dignity Canada's website states:
"Most of us were raised in the Roman Catholic tradition and
have come to feel betrayed by our church leaders, particularly the Canadian
Conference of Canadian Bishops, who unceasingly denigrate us and oppose our
efforts to achieve civil rights and protections."
"Our bishops have made
numerous pronouncements about 'homosexual persons' in the third person, but none
have ever addressed us directly, nor invited us to any dialogue. We believe
that, in terms of our life experience, no one can, nor should, speak for us but
Courage International Inc. is a support group that is officially approved by the Church.
4 The original chapter was founded in the Archdiocese of New York. They held their first meeting on
1980-SEP. Courage now has "more than chapters" They also have chaptrs in Australia, Canada, Costa Rico, Mexico, New Zealand, The Philippines, Ireland, K, Poland, Puerto Rico, and Slovenia.
They accept all of the Church's teaching,
including the belief that homosexual orientation is not sinful, because it is beyond an individual's control.
They also accept the Church's teaching that same-sex sexual behavior is a disordered state.
goal is to "establish a spiritual support system for men and women with homosexual inclinations who
desire to live chaste lives," and to help them form close, platonic, same-sex
friendships. They are thus opposed to loving, committed, same-sex relationships
or marriges that are sexually active.
Additional goals are:
Prayer and dedication: "To dedicate ones life to Christ through service to others,
spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent
reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist."
Fellowship: To share their thoughts and experiences about the problems of homosexuality.
Support: Encourage each other in forming and sustaining sexually inactive friendships.
Good example: Live lives that are a good example to others.
Their web site has received the Triple Excellency Gold Award for Excellence in Fidelity, Resources, and
Usability from CatholicCulture.org.
Courage has been endorsed by the Pontifical Council for the Family. Pope John Paul II said of
their ministry, "Courage is doing the work of God!"
They organized EnCourage in 1992 for "friends and relatives of those
struggling with homosexualtiy [sic]." 6 That
organization consists of 9 chapters. Unlike most conservative Protestant
ministries to friends and families of gays and lesbians, they do not "embrace
the necessity of a homosexual loved one's changing sexual orientation."
Rather, they emphasize the conversion of gays and lesbians from sexually active
Dignity/USA has a web site at:
http://www.dignityusa.org/index.html. Dignity Canada
"Yes, you can be out and a Catholic!," Dignity USA, at:
"Solidarity Sunday," Dignity USA, at:
Courage has a English/Spanish web site at http://couragerc.net/
"The five goals," Courage (2000), at:
EnCourage has a web site at:
"Solidarity Sunday," Dignity USA, at:
- This is a quote from the Dignity website. Unfortunately,
we have lost the URL.
"Solidarity Pledge," Dignity USA, at: http://www.dignityusa.org
Copyright © 1997 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update and review: 2012-FEB-04
Author: B.A. Robinson