In what can only be described as patently ridiculous and totally absurd, a Catholic organization whose purported goal is to help lesbian and gay people lead celibate lives, is hosting a sports camp for men this weekend, at the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s seminary.
A Philadelphia Inquirer article entitled, “A camp for sports and avoiding gay sex,” reports:
“This weekend a group of men will gather at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary to how learn to throw a spiral, make a three-point shot and hit a long ball — and to resist homosexual urges.
“Courage, a Catholic group that encourages people with same-sex attraction to remain celibate, is holding its 13th annual sports camp in which “men physically compete on the field while enriching their souls through a daily regimen of prayer, confessions, mass, and the Liturgy of the Hours,” according to the group’s website.”
Members and supporters of Philadelphia’s Peace Advocacy Network planned to protest the program. Ed Coffin, the Network’s director said in the Inquirer article,
“They think that in offering people with same sex attraction the chance to learn how to play sports they will learn to be manlier. . . .It’s a ludicrous assertion. There are many, many out gay athletes and many gay men who play sports.”
The Courage organization has often mixed their message of celibacy with outdated notions that link sexual orientation with gender stereotypes. You can read Bondings 2.0’s critique of the ministry in our January 2012 post, “When Courage Fails.” Courage chapters have sometimes been known to encourage forms of conversion therapy, an approach which the group’s founder, the late Father John Harvey, OSFS, did not promote. When I met Fr. Harvey at a conference in 1997, I asked him if Courage promoted conversion therapy, and he answered with an axiom from traditional moral theology, “You cannot require what cannot be accomplished.”
In an article in Philadelphia Gay News, Peace Advocacy Network’s Ed Coffin stated:
“The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association and many other professional mental-health organizations have said not only that conversion therapy doesn’t work but that it can be psychologically damaging. . . .When you’re trying to convert something that can’t be converted, it’s going to have consequences. They’re working to make people feel shameful about what they call a ‘gay lifestyle’ and it’s something that we know can’t be changed.”
“One time a teammate gave me a sweaty celebratory hug. He was humbly secure in himself, just as he was, selflessly and joyfully showing affection to others. I also liked when one man, whom I’d felt intimidated by, gave me a pat on my belly, meaning ‘way to go!’ His touch made me feel accepted as one of the guys.”
If it were not for the potential psychological damage that a program such as a “sports camp” based on bizarre pseudo-scientific premises and outdated stereotypes might cause, this news would be truly laughable. The fact that faith has been added to the mix makes this news all the more serious. What’s next? Baking lessons for lesbians?
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry