The Roman Catholic Church in Maine has
announced the formation of an “ex-gay” group.
On Thursday, Bishop Richard Malone,
head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, announced the
formation of a local chapter of Courage,
a support group which claims gay people should lead chaste lives.
“This service is being initiated in
response to requests from people who desire the church's assistance,”
spokeswoman Sue Bernard said in a statement.
“Courage offers hope and
encouragement to men and women who desire to live in accordance with
the church's teaching on homosexuality – specifically that the
dignity and identity of every person is not determined by their
sexual attraction, but by their relationship with the Lord and their
striving to live the virtues of faith, hope and charity,” she
According to its website, Courage was
founded in 1980 by the late Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York and
claims more than 100 chapters. Its program likens homosexuality to
The Rev. Mark Doty, pastor of Hammond
Street Congregation Church, called the group's message “offensive.”
“In my view, it is presumptuous and
wrong-headed to equate homosexuality with addictive behavior,”
Doty, who is openly gay, told The
Bangor Daily News. “Same-sex loving people reflect an
orientation, a way of viewing the world. To my mind, what takes
genuine courage is for people to love and serve God and openly
acknowledge that they are also lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender. I'm convinced that the cloak of anonymity of this
'ministry' seeks to protect heterosexuals from imagined evils and
does no favors for the LGBT community, their families or society in
The Rev. Kevin Martin, who serves St.
Michael Parish in Augusta, has been appointed the chaplain of
Martin denied that the group's
formation was a response to gay marriage advocates organizing a
return to the ballot in November. The Catholic Church is strongly
opposed to government recognition of gay and lesbian couples.
He added that the group was not for gay
people who currently are in a relationship.
“I don't think that's what Courage is
for,” he told the Kennebec
Journal. “Is Alcoholic Anonymous for people who are
currently drinking? If they have a desire to step away from that,
Courage could be for them.”