As has been discussed here, the new Vatican policy on seminarians excludes ex-gay Catholics that have “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies”.
Regina Griggs, president of PFOX, claims to this a victory for the ex-gay movement. Ignoring the actual wording of the proclamation, Griggs says:
“If you have not been involved in over three years, which means to organizations like ours, that you have become ex-gay. You’re not, you don’t identify as a homosexual. And I think that is important. And I think all churches need to recognize that. I’m hoping this will set an example for other churches.” [my emphasis added]
Griggs has decided that contrary to the Vatican’s rejection of seminarians with “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies” and their letter firing seminary instructors with such tendencies, it is really identifying as a homosexual that the Vatican meant (they must have forgotten to check in with her first).
In a statement that illustrates her both her lacking of understanding of the Catholic position on sexual orientation and her arrogance, Griggs is quoted in an article on LifeSite’s website:
“The ex-gay community is grateful to the Holy Father for recognizing that men who have overcome same sex attractions are capable of serving as priests,” said Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX). “All mainstream mental health organizations agree that individuals with unwanted same sex attractions have the right to seek therapy to explore developing heterosexual feelings as part of every client’s right to self-determination. No one is born with same sex attractions.”
“I am grateful to the Catholic Church for its commitment and compassion to homosexual Catholics,” said Griggs, a Catholic. “Many dioceses across this country have implemented a Courage chapter for their gay brethren. Courage assists Catholics with homosexual desires to lead fulfilled chaste lives or to move beyond homosexual attractions towards heterosexual development.”
In Griggs’ rush to endorse an anti-gay proclamation, she overlooked the Church’s position on homosexuality, which does not state that “no one is born with same sex attraction”. In direct opposition to the implications of “choice” or blame built into this bald unsubstantiated statement, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
2358. The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
Griggs also falsely states that Courage assists Catholics in moving “beyond homosexual attractions towards heterosexual development.” Courage’s website specifically addresses their neutral stance on reorientation and the fact that while they support those who may choose such a path, they don’t offer any counseling in that direction:
Q. Does Courage force its members to change their orientation?
A. Courage members are under no obligation to try to develop heterosexual attractions, because there is no guarantee that a person will always succeed in such an endeavour. Courage’s aim is to help persons with same-sex attractions develop a life of interior chastity in union with Christ. If any of our members wish to go to professionals to explore the possibility of heterosexual development, we will stand by them, by helping them to keep the deepening of their Catholic faith and obedience to Christ as their first priority. Courage itself does not provide professional therapy. Some of our members have found varying levels of heterosexual development to be a by-product of living a chaste life for a period of time; however, the goal and focus of Courage remains a life of interior chastity, humility, and holiness, which can be achieved by all, with God’s grace.
Courage goes further by stating in their FAQ’s that they are not an ex-gay ministry but rather a “Pro-Chastity” ministry.
Not content with usurping Courage’s voice and misinterpreting the Vatican’s proclamation, Griggs felt free to connect the Vatican’s religious document with the psychological profession and to make up facts in the process.
NARTH’s website lists – as part of an article about a vote of the American Counseling Association – the organizations that as of 9/19/04 opposed reorientation therapy. It is not insignificant:
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Counseling Association
American Federation of Teachers
American Medical Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
The Interfaith Alliance
National Association of School Psychologists
National Association of Social Workers
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Education Association
New Ways Ministries
People for the American Way
Although most people would agree that individuals generally have the right to seek whatever therapy has not been proved to harm, as best my research can detect NONE of the mental health organizations have specifically said that “individuals with unwanted same sex attractions have the right to seek therapy to explore developing heterosexual feelings as part of every client’s right to self-determination.”
Some individuals within the various mental health organizations have made statements suggesting that although they find it distasteful they support allowing the therapy should individuals desire it. And none of the organizations have yet banned reorientation therapy. Yet that is far from what Griggs claims.
At exgaywatch, we are skeptical of the successes promised by ex-gay ministries and are concerned about the potential harm these organizations may cause. But we do not condemn those who chose to seek a change in their sexual orientation, as long as they are honest and do not seek discrimination against those who do not seek such change. Further, unlike PFOX, our compassion for such persons causes us to be saddened when those who are Catholic and ex-gay see their Church reject their efforts toward chastity and exclude them solely based on their “deep-rooted tendencies” even though their Church agrees that their orientation is not chosen.