Friday, October 24, 2014

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Don’t Encourage Youth to Identify as ‘Gay,’ Says Courage Leader

Drag shows, LGBT Pride marches, and lavender graduations. Those are just some of the events becoming increasingly commonplace on Catholic campuses throughout the country.

In recent decades, the response to homosexuality has been to confuse love with acceptance of anything and everything. Many Catholics have watched “ally” groups on campus turn into advocacy groups.

Father Paul Check, the director of Courage, an apostolate which ministers to people with same-sex attraction who want to live by the Catholic Church’s sexual teachings, gave an interview to Catholic World Report where he talks about the harm caused when Catholics do not respond in faith.

Fr. Check says young people with some level of same-sex attraction must be “guided properly so that self-entanglement doesn’t take place” and warns against young people accepting the LGBT label:

One Church document, the 2005 text from the Congregation for Catholic Education in Seminaries, addresses this distinction between deep-seated and transitory homosexual feelings. This suggests that the Church recognizes there are those for whom the question is a bit more settled, or is not fluid, but clearly that is not true for everyone. There is the question of fluidity and particularly with regard to adolescence. In Veritatis Splendor, Blessed Pope John Paul II says that we are in some degree changed by our actions, although we have a fixed human nature. The more a young person self-identifies, the more he is already making a choice in order to firm up that identity in his mind. The better hope is to caution a great reserve in this and to charitably and prudently establish trust with the young person and see what may lie behind the same-sex attraction, so that very real help can be given. But encouragement to act out, even if it is just self-identification—certainly encouragement to act out sexually—is not going to be good, but is going to reinforce what is in fact a false identity which can only lead them to unhappiness. The point is that the same-sex attraction or desire can never be acted upon consistent with our human nature and therefore it will always put the person at cross-purposes with himself or herself.

Speaking in the context of the new Boy Scouts of America policy that welcomes members who self-identify as “gay,” Fr. Check offers a warning that could also be directed to teachers, professors and staff at Catholic schools and colleges:

My first concern is the boys who self-identify as “gay” or “homosexual.” And the question is: why are they doing that? If we go back to our prior discussion about identity, the Church is reluctant to label people in this way, and I think we want to do anything we can to avoid encouragement of that label, particularly for adolescents. The teenage years are a period of discovery and adventure in a certain sense and a time of coming to know oneself. And that has to be guided properly so that self-entanglement doesn’t take place. Many different things are happening at this age and it seems, at best, premature in that stage of development for someone to take a label for himself that is not reflective of his entire being.

There are a couple of Church documents—one is from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and the other is from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops—that address the question of identity. With regard to young people, those documents state that they should avoid the label and that they could receive the proper spiritual counseling as well as the help of a mental health professional who has a sound Christian anthropology in order to investigate why these feelings have arisen.

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