California bishop defends diocesan talk by former gay porn actor on the dangers of homosexuality
SANTA ROSA, CA, March 13, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “Courage,” an official apostolate of the Roman Catholic Church, often faces criticism from Catholics and non-Catholics who believe it is a harmful part of the Church's doctrine on marriage. In Santa Rosa, California, however, Bishop Robert Vasa is ignoring these criticisms in their entirety.
Last week, Vasa sponsored a program that included a presentation by former homosexual porn actor Joseph Sciambra to the local arm of Courage. Sciambra, who has a book on his experiences and how they led him to embrace the Church, believes that homosexual relationships are devastatingly harmful to the bodies and souls of men who engage in sex with other men.
Critics of Bishop Vasa and Sciambra haveabounded. However, the bishop has been a source of relief to serious Catholics. While critics say that having an abstinent man with same-sex attractions present to Courage harms acceptance of homosexuals in the Church, orthodox Catholics find the push against the permissive American culture a welcome change.
Bishop Vasa's prioritization of Church teachings over public opinion is nothing new. For years, he has emphasized Church teachings about sexual morality and life, and has long been a leader among orthodox Catholics for his adherence to Church doctrine.
In 2010, Vasa severed the Church's relationship with an Oregon hospital that was affiliated with the Church for nearly 100 years over its performance of sterilization. Last year, he said more talk was needed at the pulpit over “cultural issues.”
What local news is calling a “generally liberal diocese” appears to have taken issue with Vasa's unapologetically Catholic stances, and the presentation by former homosexual porn actor Sciambra is not sitting well with them. Some have said the program – especially Sciambra's presentation – resembles reparative therapy.
Courage says on its website it provides “spiritual support for Catholic men and women with same-sex attractions who desire to live chaste lives.” On its FAQ page, it distinctlynotes it “is NOT a group that seeks conversion to heterosexual desires,” but instead “join[s] in prayer that we, and all who live with same-sex attractions, may come closer to Our Lord as His beloved children.”
Sciambra was slotted to speak at the Faith Room of the Parish Life Center at St. Eugene's Cathedral.
Last year, he spoke with LifeSiteNews about his experiences, describing how he spent nearly a decade in same-sex relationships and gay pornography before his conversion to Catholicism.
Several organizations led by Catholics and former Catholics who oppose the Church on the issue of same-sex relationships have been quoted as being against what one person called the “spiritual reparative therapy” of Courage. According to Lin Campbell – described as a “former Catholic” who worked for the Church for over 20 years – she left the Church after former USCCB President Archbishop Wilton Gregory said gay priests were at fault in the priest scandal.
Campbell, a facilitator with the Santa Rosa arm of PFLAG, told local press that “the day that I realized there was no place in the church for my son to be an authentic gay man in a loving, committed relationship — married, with three children — was the day I realized there was no place in the church for me, either.”
One man quoted by local press says he is a 79-year old gay man who has “exactly the same responsibility as any other human being — to live a compassionate, responsible, caring existence.” He says “living a moral life was foremost,” and the Church should accept how “homosexuality is a basic manifestation of human sexuality.”
However, Vasa and Sciambra are uncompromising. The former porn actor says sex acts among homosexual men “are aberrations of nature.” Vasa has said that “morally speaking, everyone is called to chastity and everyone is given sufficient grace to live a life consistent with the Commandments regardless of their situation circumstances or inclinations.”