“Proclaiming the Splendor of Truth in Love”: Courage to Host Major Conference on Pastoring SSA Catholics

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Catholics who live with same-sex attractions (SSA) or uncertainty about their gender, desiring to live chastely, should be able to look to the Church for guidance in understanding their identity as sons and daughters of God. In order for this to happen, the Church is in need of leaders who are able to address the complex experience of SSA and gender dysphoria with authentic truth and love.

Sadly, there are still many clergy, religious, and pastoral leaders who have not received the formation needed to effectively preach the good news about God’s plan for human sexuality in a way that is at once compassionate and uncompromising. This fact poses a particular challenge for Catholic faithful living with SSA who are looking to Church leaders for guidance, clarity, and hope.

In response to this need for well-formed pastoral leaders, Courage International – an apostolate for men and women who experience SSA – will host its latest formation event for clergy, religious, educators, and those who work in the healing professions: “Proclaiming the Splendor of Truth with Love” will take place October 22-24, 2018 in Bloomfield, Connecticut, at the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Pastoral Center (formerly St. Thomas Seminary). This year’s gathering draws its theme from Pope St. John Paul II’s prophetic document, Veritatis Splendor, to mark the 25th anniversary of its release.

In the confessional, priests hear the most intimate struggles associated with SSA. From the pulpit, clergy preach the Gospel to a congregation which regularly includes persons who quietly experience SSA, or families who are trying to understand why their son or daughter has come out as LGBT or transgender. Meanwhile, lay leaders of pastoral programs may encounter fellow parishioners living with SSA, who may or may not be open about what they are going through.

Recognizing this need for pastoral formation, Courage International began hosting a series of Truth & Love conferences specifically designed to offer formation for anyone involved in caring for persons who experience SSA. The first conference was held in 2015 in Detroit, followed by conferences in Rome and Phoenix. Recently, a new website was launched to serve as a comprehensive resource for anyone involved in caring for persons with these experiences.

This year’s conference will feature presentations by renowned theologians, including Dr. Janet Smith, Courage International’s current and former executive directors, Fr. Philip Bochanski and Fr. Paul Check (respectively), and experts in the fields of philosophy, pastoral care, and the health sciences. Participants will also have the opportunity to hear from Courage members about their experience of living with SSA.

Regardless of vocation of profession, the prospect of being entrusted with the care of a person who experiences SSA or gender dysphoria may seem overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. As Pope St. John Paul II writes in Veritatis Splendor:

“At times, in the discussions about new and complex moral problems, it can seem that Christian morality is in itself too demanding, difficult to understand and almost impossible to practice. This is untrue, since Christian morality consists, in the simplicity of the Gospel, in following Jesus Christ, in abandoning oneself to him, in letting oneself be transformed by his grace and renewed by his mercy, gifts which come to us in the living communion of his Church.” (Veritatis Splendor, 119)

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