Maine Catholic Bishop Creates Ministry to ’Help’ Gays
The head bishop of the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Portland, Maine, Richard Malone, recently announced that he has created a new ministry to "help" gays with their "same-sex attraction," the Maine newspaper Bangor News reported.
"This service is being initiated in response to requests from people who desire the church's assistance," Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese, said in the press release.
Malone said that the ministry will be a chapter of the anti-gay national organization, Courage, which "ministers to those with homosexual or same-sex attractions."
The organization was developed in 1980 in the Archdiocese of New York as a spiritual support system where Catholics would "help" gays get over their same-sex attractions through the teachings of the church's view on sexuality and sexual behavior.
"Courage offers hope and encouragement to men and women who desire to 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," Bernard said.
Courage has received criticism from gay rights activists and organizations. Openly gay Rev. Marky Doty and pastor of Hammond Street Congregational Church told the Bangor News that he was offended by the organization.
"In my view, it is presumptuous and wrong-headed to equate homosexuality with addictive behavior," said Doty. "Same-sex loving people reflect an orientation, a way of viewing the world. To my mind, what takes genuine courage is for people to love and serve God and openly acknowledge that they are also lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. I'm convinced that the cloak of anonymity of this 'ministry' seeks to protect heterosexuals from imagined evils and does no favors for the LGBT community, their families or society in general."
In a similar case, the Hartford, Conn. Roman Catholic archdiocese announced that it was creating a Courage chapter in the city, EDGE reported.
"Through support and spiritual intervention, we can help people with same-sex attraction lead moral and fulfilling lives," Pallotti said. "These people are hurting and so are their families. Doing nothing would be a lack of compassion."
Maine and the issue of gay marriage recently made headlines when a federal appeals court ruled that the anti-gay marriage group, National Organization for Marriage (NOM), may have to show a list of donors who supported a $1.8 million campaign against same-sex marriage, Reuters reported.