Next week, Catholics will converge in Illinois for the annual conference of the Courage ministry, which shames Catholic gays and lesbians into being celibate for life. Distinguishing the goal of celibacy from the goals of ex-gay therapy is making a distinction without a difference, and tellingly, this year’s conference will feature a training for professional licensed therapists and graduate students that is conducted by an ex-gay therapist. The ex-gay umbrella group NARTH promoted the training today, highlighting that Dr. Timothy Lock, a NARTH member, would be hosting it. Indeed, Lock recommends his clients read various ex-gay publications, including books by Richard Cohen and Joseph Nicolosi, as well as ex-gay resources like PFOX.
A similar training will also take place at the conference for ministers, led by Fr. Paul Check, Courage’s executive director, as well as one Dr. Bill Consiglio. Consiglio authored the 1991 book Homosexual No More: Practical Strategies for Christians Overcoming Homosexuality, in which he wrote that one of the aspects of the “healing of homosexuality is that one develops strength of character as he “perseveres in suffering and temptation.” His goal for a client is to help him be “in control” such that “homosexuality will not control his life.”
Not only is Courage officially endorsed by the Vatican, but next week’s conference will include a Mass presided over by Illinois Cardinal Francis George, who has previously compared the gay rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan.
Another prominent speaker at the conference is Paul Scalia, son of notoriously homophobic Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The younger Scalia founded a chapter of the Courage ministry in Arlington, Virginia and has incredibly dangerous views about homosexuality. Not only does he compare identifying as gay to stereotypes like “preps,” “jocks,” and “geeks,” but he actually believes there is no such thing as sexual orientation at all. Instead, he advocates that people should only be identified as having same-sex attractions, never being gay.
Courage recommends the following prayer for individuals preparing to attend the conference:
Lord Jesus, I consecrate my sexuality to you; cleanse my mind, my memory, my imagination and my dreams of all erotic content.
Grant me the gift of chastity, to bring my sexual drive into subjection of your Holy Spirit dwelling within me. If there be any dividedness in my heart in this regard, please make my heart pure and simple.
Guard my weakness by your Holy Cross through the intercession of your Mother Mary, my guardian angel, Saint Charles Lwanga, and the communion of saints. AMEN
Courage represents the most reprehensible anti-gay values of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. Not only does the Church oppose legal recognition for the thousands of same-sex families raising children, it promotes the idea that gay people shouldn’t exist at all. At the very least, they should deprive themselves of ever loving another person or starting a family.