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The Roman Catholic Church and Homosexuality

Support groups for Catholic
homosexuals and bisexuals

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Support groups:

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 transgender 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

"when Catholics, other Christians and all people are invited to show support for and solidarity with God's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children." 8

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!" 7

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 ourselves." 1

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Courage Apostolate:

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.

Their main 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:

bullet 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."
bullet Fellowship: To share their thoughts and experiences about the problems of homosexuality.
bullet Support: Encourage each other in forming and sustaining sexually inactive friendships.
bullet Good example: Live lives that are a good example to others. 5

Their web site has received the Triple Excellency Gold Award for Excellence in Fidelity, Resources, and Usability from 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 to celibate.

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  1. Dignity/USA has a web site at: Dignity Canada is at:
  2. "Yes, you can be out and a Catholic!," Dignity USA, at:
  3. "Solidarity Sunday," Dignity USA, at:
  4. Courage has a English/Spanish web site at
  5. "The five goals," Courage (2000), at:
  6. EnCourage has a web site at:
  7. "Solidarity Sunday," Dignity USA, at:
  8. This is a quote from the Dignity website. Unfortunately, we have lost the URL.
  9. "Solidarity Pledge," Dignity USA, at:

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Copyright 1997 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update and review: 2012-FEB-04
Author: B.A. Robinson
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