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Colorado Springs Catholic Diocese Funds "12 Steps of Courage"

By GLAAD |
January 25, 2011

A program called the 12 Steps of Courage is now being funded by the Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs, as reported by the Colorado Gazette.

Describing this as a 12-step recovery program, Catholic officials said they were only addressing gay people who were uncomfortable being gay, but the program’s website says that being gay is a “defect of character.”  Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign states, “when the message coming from the church is that [gay people] are defective, you are sending a message that makes people uncomfortable.”

Frank DeBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry

Frank DeBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry

Frank DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, called upon the Diocese of Colorado Springs to not move forward with this 12-step program. “You don’t need an advanced degree to understand that the fruits of lifelong, committed, monogamous relationships are quite different than the damage and heartache done by chemical dependencies,” said DeBernardo in a statement released by Equally Blessed, a coalition of national pro-gay Catholic organizations.

Marriane Duddy-Burke,  executive director of DignityUSA, also an Equally Blessed partner states, “Catholics are taught that heterosexual celibacy is an act of heroic sacrifice accomplished through special grace, while homosexual celibacy is simply mandatory – part of the hand that God dealt you. Perhaps unwittingly, the church has made God the author of human prejudice. And that’s not very good theology.” 

GLAAD continues to report on the progress being made among Catholics in the pew and will challenge all efforts to pass so-called "ex-gay” therapies or ministries as effective.  The GLAAD resource “Unmasking the So-Called 'Ex-Gay' Activists”  states, “To date, not a single credible study has offered any evidence that people can be turned from gay to straight.”  Although the website of 12 Steps to Courage reports 110 chapters and has a few testimonials of “success,” it provides no statistics about the program’s effectiveness.