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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Founder of Gay Catholics Group Dies at 92

By Killian Melloy -

John Harvey
The founder of the GLBT Catholic group Courage has died at age 92. Fr. John Harvey had made his initial vows in 1938, and was ordained six years later, reported Catholic on Dec. 28.

Harvey, who authored the book The Homosexual Person: New Thinking in Pastoral Care, died in Maryland on Dec. 27. The Homosexual Person, first published in 1987, suggests that sexual orientation can be changed. The book also offers pastoral guidelines for those who are unable to "convert" to heterosexuality.

In a 2006 interview, Harvey described Courage as "a spiritual support system for men and women with same-sex attraction who desire to live a chaste life. It involves both confidentially and anonymity. The members only go by their first name and they are bound to confidentiality at their meetings. In other words, confidentially is very strict."

Harvey went on to describe his views of homosexuality and sexual affection between individuals of the same gender. "The condition [of homosexuality] is that a man or a woman lacks the attraction to people of the other sex," Harvey told the Denver Catholic Register. "We call that an objective disorder. It is an objective disorder because if you give consent to this disorder you end up performing an intrinsically evil act. Namely, the act of homosexual behavior, same-sex behavior. It’s always wrong because it can never lead to the purposes of sex.

"The only natural desire is the man having an attraction for a woman, which, eventually, through the process of selection, friendship and marriage leads to the accomplishment and goals that God had in mind in the community of man and body--that is, one flesh," Harvey continued. "From that communion should come children and family for the continuation of the generations of the human race. But this inclination to the same sex doesn’t go anywhere. You don’t need revelation to prove homosexuality immoral."

Harvey created Courage in 1980 to provide a place for gay Catholics who wished to live in accordance with church teachings on the subject of homosexuality. Though the church says that gays do not "choose" to be sexually attracted to others of the same gender, and teaches that gays should be treated with respect, the Catholic stance on homosexuality also holds that gays are "disordered," that sexual affection between individuals of the same gender is "inherently evil," and that gay parents are guilty of inflicting harm on their children simply by being parents of a single gender. The church also teaches that God intends for gays to live celibate lives, rather than forming their own family units.

Courage was established to help gay Catholics live in celibacy, noted Catholic There are in excess of 100 chapters of the group worldwide. Harvey remained the head of Courage until two years ago.

Another Catholic pastoral organization dedicated to the needs of the GLBT faithful is DignityUSA, which rejects the idea that homosexuality is pathological in nature. Text at the organization’s website reads, "DignityUSA envisions and works for a time when Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Catholics are affirmed and experience dignity through the integration of their spirituality with their sexuality, and as beloved persons of God participate fully in all aspects of life within the Church and Society."

DignityUSA was co-founded by openly gay Roman Catholic priest the Rev. Robert Carter, who died earlier this year. Carter was trained as a social worker and brought his own brand of counseling to gay and lesbian Catholics, the obituary noted, as well as celebrating the blessings of same-sex unions and offering testimony for an equality law in New York City in the 1980s.

"Since Jesus had table fellowship with social outcasts and sinners, those rejected by the religious establishment of his time," Carter wrote, "I consider myself to have been most fully a Jesuit, a ’companion of Jesus,’ when I came out publicly as a gay man, one of the social rejects of my time."

In 2005, in the wake of the pedophile priest scandal, the Catholic Church barred excluded openly gay candidates from seminary training and ordination.

The overwhelming majority of pedophiles--well over 90%--identify as heterosexual.
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

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