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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
A January conference in Phoenix will tackle tough issues of homosexuality, transgenderism
by James Graves at OSV Newsweekly on January 27, 2017
Clergy process out of the chapel at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Mich., in August 2015 after the opening Mass of the Truth and Love Conference. CNS photo by Mike Stechschulte
Courage International will join with the Diocese of Phoenix to host Truth and Love, a conference intended to offer practical and pastoral guidance on the topics of homosexuality and sexual identity on Jan. 9-11, 2017, at St. Paul Parish in Phoenix. Courage is the Catholic Church’s apostolate to help men and women struggling with same-sex attraction live in accordance with the teachings of the Church. The Phoenix conference will be Courage’s third since its founding in 1980; a similar conference was held most recently in Michigan in August 2015.
Father Philip Bochanski, Courage’s executive director, says that the conference is a tool to “share the good news that living chastely and finding our true identity as sons and daughters of God is the way to real happiness and authentic relationships.”
The theme of Truth and Love is “welcoming and accompanying our brothers and sisters with same-sex attractions or confusion regarding sexual identity.”
According to a joint statement released by the Diocese of Phoenix and Courage, many of the current approaches to homosexuality “do not include the fuller perspective of the human person. Rather, they limit themselves to ‘acceptance’ and to the protection of the ‘right’ of ‘sexual satisfaction.’ Yet, as the Catholic Church has consistently taught, these approaches will never lead people to the abundant life that Christ promises.”
Presenters include Father Bochanski; Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes of Agaña, Guam; chastity speaker Jason Evert; Walt Heyer, a former transgender person, speaker and operator of the site www.SexChangeRegret.com; Janet Smith, a professor of moral theology at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary; John Cuddeback, a professor of philosophy at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia; and Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute.
Morse is an author and speaker specializing in the area of marriage and family, and played a prominent role defending traditional marriage in California’s Proposition 8 campaign. Her conference topic will be “Understanding the Sexual Revolution.”
Her topic, she said, includes refuting the belief of the sexual revolution that happiness comes merely by having sex, an idea that she says didn’t emerge without help.
“I’m 63, and the sexual revolution has been with us throughout my lifetime,” she said. “The good news is that we have decades of studies that have demonstrated that these ideas are a failure.”
Once the ideas of the sexual revolution had permeated society, she continued, “the building blocks for gay marriage were already there in the culture. People have come to believe that sex should be a sterile activity — that people can have sex and not think about babies — and gay sex is the ultimate sterile sex.”
Coupled that with the belief that “men and women are interchangeable and that kids don’t need their parents, so why not have gay marriage?”
Also featured at the conference will be speakers who have experienced same-sex attraction or sexual identity confusion sharing how chaste friendships and embracing the teachings of the Church have helped them on their journey toward chastity and sanctity. These include Daniel Mattson, who will present “Captivated by Truth: Why the Church’s Truth about Homosexuality has Set Me Free.”
Mattson is a professional musician from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was baptized Catholic and raised an evangelical Christian. He experiences same-sex attraction, and although he was “clandestine” about it, he was once involved in the gay lifestyle.
He wanted to participate in the Courage conference, he said, in hopes that he could “communicate that chastity is a vital part of the Good News, and part of the reason I came back to the Catholic Church.”
Mattson noted that in the entertainment world of which he is a part, his fellow musicians “would celebrate me coming out, embracing being gay and having a boyfriend.” Instead, he continued, “They are mystified that I would choose to be Catholic.”
But, he continued, it was in the Catholic Church that he has found both “truth and freedom, and I accept that truth in humility, even though that does not affect that I am still attracted to men.”
Mattson returned to the Catholic Church after attending a Courage conference in 2009. He tells his story in the Courage film “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” which can be viewed under the resources tab on the Courage website. He travels frequently to speak at high schools and colleges, often accompanied by Father Bochanski or Father Paul Check, the former executive director of Courage.
He recalled a question asked by a teenage boy at one of his high school presentations: “If I feel I’m attracted to the same sex, am I gay?”
“I responded, ‘No. The Church wisely teaches us that our feelings do not define who we are. Who we are made by God is what defines us.”
Mattson continued, “I do what I’m doing to help people like this boy. He’s living in a world that tells him it does mean he’s gay, but I’m here to say that he doesn’t have to follow every feeling or desire. These kids are being told lies and falling into a trap.”
Mattson also will soon release a book through Ignatius Press sharing his experiences. Mattson’s brother, Steve, is a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, and also is a presenter at the conference.
Mass celebrants include Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez. Bishop Olmsted was pleased to have his diocese host the conference.
“The work of Courage International, helping those with same-sex attraction to build friendships and virtue, and helping the Church to share the Good News of Christ in a challenging area, is essential in our time,” he said. “I encourage all who have pastoral responsibilities to join us at the conference. It will help you to grow in knowledge and fellowship.”