CROMWELL –The executive director of Courage International, a Catholic apostolate for people with same-sex attraction, provided a foundation for the Church’s teaching on homosexuality at the 2013 Pope John Paul II lecture on bioethics on Nov. 6 at Holy Apostles College and Seminary.
Father Paul N. Check told an audience consisting mostly of seminarians that while the Church teaches that homosexual behavior is disordered, its way of reaching out to the individual homosexual person is with “pastoral charity.”
“To be a neighbor in a Christ-like way is to show Christ-like compassion,” he said in his talk, entitled “Clarity and Charity: The Catholic Church and Homosexuality.”
Using the parable of the Good Samaritan and the question of “who is my neighbor?” he reminded the audience of the emphasis of Pope Francis on “healing wounds.”
Father Check addressed the distinction between inclination and action, reiterating one of the principles of nature that “action follows being” (that everything acts according to its nature).
“Our feelings can be misdirected,” he noted, in talking about the “struggles of the human heart.” But “our lives have meaning and direction that are not reduceable to choices,” he said.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Courage, which offers spiritual support for Catholic men and women with same-sex attractions who desire to live chaste lives in accordance with the Church’s teachings.
It was begun in 1980 by the late Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York, who tapped the late Father John Harvey, of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, to be its founding executive director.
Courage’s five pillars are to enable Catholics with same-sex attraction to live chaste lives according to God’s purpose; to dedicate their lives to Christ through prayer, the sacraments and service; to foster fellowship; to receive support from fellow Catholics; and to serve as role models.
Father Check said he is constantly on the road, traveling to some of the 100 Courage chapters in the United States, as well as to another dozen international chapters. A U.S. Marine Corps captain before becoming a priest, Father Check succeeded Father Harvey as executive director in 2008. He is based in the Diocese of Bridgeport.
The lecture was preceded by a recital of Renaissance and medieval sacred music by Trio Triumvirum.
The Archdiocese of Hartford has a local chapter of Courage. Information is available at 860-761-7446 or from the central office of Courage in Norwalk at 203-803-1564.
The Bioethics Center was founded in 1982 by the late Father Francis J. Lescoe, Msgr. David Q. Liptak and the late Dr. Leo Thomas Duffy, a medical doctor.