kofcmuseum civil 4274 webOne of the displays at the exhibit “Answering the Call: Service & Charity in the Civil War” at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven is a reproduction of a tent chapel that shows how chaplains ministered to soldiers and how Mass was celebrated on the battlefield despite hardships. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

NEW HAVEN – History buffs likely won’t want to miss a new exhibit at the Knights of Columbus Museum, “Answering the Call: Service & Charity in the Civil War,” which focuses on religious ministry and medical care provided to Civil War soldiers.

Honduras 2 2015 178 webVillagers gather for the opening of Clinica la Amistad (Friendship Clinic) in Monte de los Olivos, in the city of El Progreso, Honduras, Feb. 3.

WETHERSFIELD – The Feb. 3 opening of a health clinic in Honduras by three Connecticut women was the result of three revelations the women experienced.

20150305cnsbr8397 pope webPope Francis greets elderly woman as he arrives for weekly audience in 2014 in St. Peter's Square at Vatican. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The most serious ailment the aged face and the greatest injustice they suffer is abandonment, Pope Francis said.

knights columbus logo webNEW HAVEN – To aid war-torn Ukraine in the aftermath of an undeclared war waged by Russia, the Knights of Columbus has donated $400,000 for humanitarian relief programs sponsored by the Catholic Church in Ukraine.

bro bob head webBrother Bob Moriarty

BLOOMFIELD – In this Year of Consecrated Life, many people are asking, “What, exactly, do individuals do who are in religious communities? How do they live their lives on a daily basis?’

For cloistered religious, like the Bene

20150218cm01806 webPope Francis gives ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME (CNS) -- Lent is a journey of purification and penance, a movement that should bring one tearfully back to the loving arms of the merciful Father, Pope Francis said at an Ash Wednesday Mass that began with a procession on Rome's Aventine Hill.

st joes medal 8572 webGerard Staves of St. Mary Parish in Windsor Locks takes a moment with Paula Taylor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Windsor Locks. (Photo by Karen O. Bray)

HARTFORD – Archbishop Leonard P. Blair presided over a joyful ceremony on March 22, celebrating the blessing and conferral of this year’s St. Joseph Medals of Appreciation to 206 parishioners from across the Archdiocese of Hartford.

PAS hearing 8363 webHundreds of people fill a room at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on March 18 as a hearing before the legislature’s judiciary committee offered people the opportunity to present their views on House Bill 7015, An Act Concerning Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients. (Photo by Karen O. Bray)

HARTFORD – The cold March wind on March 18 did not deter more than 200 people from testifying at the third Connecticut public hearing in as many years on the attempt to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the state of Connecticut.

20150213cnsto0043 web This architectural rendering shows how the Museum of the Bible planned for Washington will look. (CNS photo/courtesy Smith Group JJR)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- On a gray and overcast morning in Washington, just a short walk from Capitol Hill, construction work began on a museum intended to promote engagement, education and discussion of the Bible.

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Courage_Logo-ONLYBLOOMFIELD – Men and women living with same-sex attraction often feel neglected and despised – by their families, their heterosexual friends, even the Catholic Church.

Deacon Robert Pallotti, director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate of the Archdiocese of Hartford, wants to do something about that.

Archbishop Henry J. Mansell has given Deacon Pallotti’s office the go-ahead to start a chapter of Courage, an apostolate of the Catholic Church that ministers to persons with same-sex attraction (SSA) – the group avoids using words like "homosexual," "gay" or "lesbian" as nouns, saying they appear to lump individuals into categories.

Courage was founded in 1980 by Oblate of St. Francis de Sales Father John F. Harvey, under the direction of New York’s Cardinal Terence Cooke. It is now headquartered in Norwalk and under the direction of Father Paul Check, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport. There are more than 100 Courage chapters in at least 35 states and many more overseas.

Deacon Pallotti said that he recognized a few years ago that there was a pastoral need in the Hartford Archdiocese for the Church to reach out to men and women living with SSA.

"We had begun to hear about different organizations, and Courage being the Roman Catholic one that the Vatican supports, it’s the one which we are able to utilize," he said. "Hopefully, this will meet at least some of the needs of the people we’re trying to minister to. And not only people with same-sex attraction, but friends and families."

Father Check joined the interview by speakerphone and said, "The goal of the Courage apostolate is to help men and women with same-sex attraction to live a chaste life, trusting that the Church teaches us what is true in terms of our humanity and then guides us into an intimacy with Jesus Christ. This is the charism of Courage."

The "Five Goals of Courage," briefly summarized, are to live chaste lives, to dedicate one’s life to Christ, to foster a spirit of fellowship, to acknowledge that chaste friendships are possible and necessary, and to live exemplary lives.

"The Church is careful to make a distinction," Father Check said. "[It] distinguishes the person from the inclination, from the action." Since everyone is created in the image and likeness of God, it is the inclination, not the person, that is disordered, he said. "It cannot be fulfilled in a way that is in keeping with our human nature. That’s not a moral judgment or a moral condemnation – this disorder – but rather, is a look at the appetite itself, the desire itself."

Homosexual acts are only one category of sexual acts that put us at cross purposes with ourselves and our human nature, he said. "Adultery, fornication, contraception, pornography, masturbation, in vitro fertilization, cloning, artificial insemination – all of these things are in some way contrary to that design or order of human intimacy and love," he said.

But, he said, "People with same-sex attraction have a particular struggle. We are going to do everything we can to understand it and to respect their human dignity and treat them as individuals. At the same time, we, in looking at human nature, know that [for them] to act out on that inclination or desire is to put them at cross purposes with themselves."

People who come to Courage for help are often surprised that the Church understands their struggles, he said. "We think that someone’s dignity is far more complex and rich than their sexual inclination," he said. "You’re a human being; you’re a person; you’re a child of God …."

Father Check was careful to explain that the causes of homosexuality are not fully understood. He said that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2357, states, "Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained." That is not to say that it can never be explained, however. "What we could say, I think reasonably, is that there are patterns that tend to repeat themselves into the profiles of men and women with same-sex attraction, and that kind of information could be useful to consider," he said.

As to whether a person’s sexual orientation is inborn or acquired, he said, "We can’t make any conclusion on that because it’s not a matter of divine revelation…."

Deacon Pallotti echoed Father Check’s compassionate tone. "Intellectually, we can say that we love ourselves," he said. "Emotionally, below the surface, are all kinds of little messages telling us otherwise. We pick those up from society or from our parents or from whatever."

The formation of a Courage chapter in the archdiocese is part of a four-pronged program of workshops dealing with human sexuality, bioethics and marriage preparation that Deacon Pallotti proposed to Archbishop Mansell several years ago.

Biweekly Courage meetings in a confidential location will be led by at least one of seven deacons who have undergone specific training to understand the emotional difficulties persons with SSA experience. "One of us will always be there, so they’ll always feel safe because they’ll get to know us," Deacon Pallotti said.

Catholics who are struggling with same-sex attraction and who desire to live according to Church teaching may contact their pastors or Deacon Pallotti at (860) 761-7446.

All calls are confidential, as are all meetings. More information on Courage is available online at couragerc.net or by calling Courage headquarters at (203) 803-1564.



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