Gay celibacy group prompts U of T parishioners to leave
By Marco Chown Oved, Toronto Star, January 16, 2013
A Catholic group that counsels homosexuals to be celibate has prompted dozens of offended people to leave a parish on U of T campus and earned a rebuke from the university. Yet it continues to operate.
A chapter of the international organization Courage, a self-described support group for homosexuals in the Catholic Church, was invited to the Newman Centre’s St. Thomas Aquinas Parish last year. Shortly afterward, several members of the parish lodged a complaint with the University of Toronto, even though the parish is independent from the university.
The Newman Centre then posted a comment on its website specifying that the program is not offered by or connected to the university, but it continues to support Courage’s activities.
“This group indoctrinates . . . praying yourself straight,” said Stuart Graham, a former liturgical minister and lector at the parish who was one of those who complained to the university.
“They’re telling young people who are confused and frightened that they’re damned,” he said. “I’m shocked we’re dealing with this in 2013.”
There are, and will always be, those who will use the church as their instrument to repress, expel, excoriate, insult and assault others with whom they disagree. And whether Courage is a group "inside the boundaries" of what the church teaches or not, (it really doesn't matter!) empty pews and sadness and silence are really the only reasonable response to such views as they are propagating.
In their process, naturally, they will claim to be doing "God's work" which makes them especially impenetrable to dialogue, to openness and to acceptance and tolerance of those who are gay.
There are undoubtedly both lay and clergy in most Christian denominations who, if pressed, would tacitly support the "pray yourself straight" approach to homosexuality. Some would even give it open and vociferous support.
Nevertheless, to use the church as an accomplice to repress one's fears, in our view, is nothing short of a perversion of anything holy, sacred or even scriptural.
Corrective measures, in the name of God, of a human "defect" like sexual orientation is another of the many power-grabs that seek to place some "over" others, and those 'others' have no choice in how they are oriented. No one will ever, however, be able to awaken those 'some' to the pain they are and will continue to cause to those whose lives are, in their view, anathema to the wishes of God, as expressed by the church teachings.
Imago dei, phrase found frequently in many church liturgies lifted from scripture, pointing to the concept that humans are "created in the image of God". "Love your neighbour as yourself" is another phrase that comes to mind when thinking, sadly, about the story above.
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" also emerges from the dust of both scripture and memory...all of these seemingly urging a higher 'calling' from those seeking to practice a christian faith, amid the turbulent and confusing and ambivalent swirling winds of various 'niches' of public opinion.
"Love your enemies" is also relevant to those seeking guidance in leadership of groups committed to constricting the faith to an unattainable reach of purity, as if God were the Supreme Commander demanding a kind of perfection. When he presents the heart of his redemptive mission, Jesus says: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10). While some interpretation points to the life after death in reference to "abundantly," why would we not presume that it could not also apply to life here on earth, at least in a spiritual dimension?