Maine diocese to offer 'Courage'

A Catholic diocese in New England is getting some publicity for appointing a priest to lead a program called “Courage” throughout Maine. Courage is a support group for Catholics to “Live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality.”

From the Kennebec Journal:

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The Rev. Kevin Martin, who serves St. Michael Parish in the Augusta area, will be the Catholic chaplain for the statewide Courage ministry. The new Maine chapter of Courage, a worldwide spiritual support group established in 1980, would practice anonymity and confidentiality.

"I want to be very clear: this is not the church imposing a certain view on people, but respecting their desire to come to us for support," Martin said Thursday at St. Augustine Church in Augusta. "It is not to force it upon anybody, but rather to say, 'We're here to support them.' "

Bishop Richard Malone said in a prepared statement Thursday that the group aims to help people "live in accordance with the church's teaching on homosexuality -- specifically that the dignity and identity of every person is not determined by their sexual attractions, but by their relationship with the Lord and their striving to live the virtues of faith, hope and charity."

The move to adopt Courage in the state comes just months before voters in Maine may be asked to approve a ballot measure legalizing same-sex marriage, a petition that failed two years ago. That campaign was divisive, and the Catholic Church in Maine was a vocal opponent of gay marriage. Now gearing up for another round, a former writer for the diocesan newspaper, Church World, has appealed to the church to stay on the sidelines during what promises to be another contentious campaign. William H. Slavick writes in the Portland Press Herald:

For certain, the Maine Church does not need another battering and huge drop in contributions.

Yet, neither before the Legislature approved same-sex marriages nor since the referendum has [Portland Bishop Richard] Malone moved to secure, outside of marriage, legal recognition of same-sex relationships needed to adjudicate offspring, hospital visitation, medical decisions and property rights. A committee formed after the referendum to develop a proposal, at a priest's request, gave up when a highly regarded attorney's draft wasn't accepted.

[Diocesan legislative lobbyist and campaign chair, Marc] Mutty's statement that he will not run another such campaign and Malone's silence in a new referendum year raise some hope that they recognize the cost of doing Benedict's bidding to be prohibitive, and the likelihood of defeat this time great, so they will sit this one out.

But Malone, like virtually all John Paul II and Benedict XVI appointees, chosen primarily for obeisance, has consistently done what pleases Benedict and the Vatican curia… So hopes should not rise until Malone's silence has extended into November. I won't be betting on it.

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Helen Deines
5 years 8 months ago
I write simply to endorse Matthew's wise comment, and so suggest that this might be a time to pray for our church, which seems so distracted by concerns not found in the gospels.  

We lose a priest in St. Louis for praying spontaneously (God forbid) and start a program over a whole state obsessing over the sexual behavior of a few folk.  
all in a country in which the poverty rate rises, more and more people are homeless, without health care, sorrowful, and without hope.  Would not the good news of compassion, peace, and justice be more what our gifts are about? 
Juan Lino
5 years 8 months ago
As a question of method, I propose that people actually look at the “Courage website” to see what they say about themselves, and, if possible, speak to those who are in Courage. When one looks at only what those who are against it say, that, in my opinion, is the same as looking at a Jack Chick comic to learn what the Catholic Church actually teaches.
 
Jim, I have personal experience with courage and my experience in no way matches what you are saying.  My experience, in fact, has been that they support those who wish to follow the magisterium and live a life of chastity.  Shouldn’t there be a place in the Church for people who want to do that?  
 
Here’s the link to the Courage website: http://www.couragerc.net/
Colleen Baker
5 years 8 months ago
My objection to Courage runs a little differently.  I don't understand why, if it uses a 12 step approach and considers only sexual acts, it singles out gays.  What about heterosexuals?  Don't they need encouragement to follow the magesterium and lead a chaste life? Or are we to believe unchaste gay sexual acts somehow send a person to a deeper level of hell than unchaste heterosexual acts?
Juan Lino
5 years 8 months ago
Colleen - I agree that everyone needs help following the teachings of Christ as enunciated by His Church but Courage grew out of the experience of Fr. Harvey and the social conditions that existed at the time that it began.  I believe some of this information is available in books and online.

If looking at the website doesn't answer a persons questions, one can find a telephone number for a person in their diocese to speak with.

I just want to clear up a misconception, members of Courage do not prowl around looking for those with SSA who are active to drag into meetings.  In fact, I have never seen a group of members of Courage in front of any parish in my town protesting that people (hetero or otherwise) are not faithful to the magisterium. 

Regarding the levels of hell for one's sins, you'll have to speak to Dante about that.  ; )
Matthew Myers
5 years 8 months ago
As a Catholic pastoral minister, I am deeply concerned that Courage uses a 12-step method that treats sexuality like an addiction.  I feel that this method is both ineffective and woefully insensitive to the experience of gay and lesbian persons because it is based upon a very limited understanding of homosexuality. 

The best commentary on Courage that I have read points out that Courage ''primarily views lesbian/gay people in terms of sexual activity.  This approach does not consider lesbian/gay people as whole people, but narrowly defines them in terms of sex.''

I recommend reading the entire commentary on Courage at: 
http://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/when-courage-fails/ 
ed gleason
5 years 8 months ago
Retrouvaille, a Catholic program for troubled marriages that has had tens of thousands of attendees,  also based on 12 step ideas, has no presence in the State of Maine. no priest, no funds, no publicity, no interest. .the 99 who are left alone by the shephards may also have chastity problems....   one would think..
5 years 8 months ago
I agree with Juan.  I have heard Father Harvey speak.  I don't know how anyone could conclude that ''This approach does not consider lesbian/gay people as whole people, but narrowly defines them in terms of sex''.  Quite the contrary, Father Harvey has spoken and written so much more of those who are attracted to the same sex than their sexual practices.

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