The establishment of a Courage program at the Newman Center near the University of Toronto has created something of a firestorm in the parish community, and has even prompted the university to issue an official statement distancing the campus from the program.
Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper reports that the establishment of the Courage program
” . . . has caused a rift at the Newman Centre, which at least a dozen parishioners have stopped attending because they oppose the program and its principles, while the U of T has urged the centre’s leaders to discontinue it.”
Courage is an international of network of chapters which promote chastity, and some times have encouraged reparative therapy. It was founded in 1980 by Father John Harvey, OSFS.
The program’s content is seen as potentially psychologically harmful by some, including
“. . . one outraged Newman parishioner who has helped lead opposition to the program, and who requested anonymity over fears of discipline from his employer, decried ‘the harm and the damage it does, primarily to vulnerable younger people who are struggling with their sexual identity.’ ”
Although the Newman Center is independent of the University of Toronto, the campus administration has become involved in the situation:
“. . . four parishioners launched a formal complaint with the U of T – one of several the school received and solicited in recent months, a spokesman said. The university said in a statement that its vice-president of human resources and equity, Angela Hildyard, labelled the Courage program ‘inconsistent with the university’s values’ and has urged the Newman Centre to cease offering or promoting it, and to make clear in all its publications that U of T does not endorse it.
“The Newman Centre’s website now states, ‘This program is not offered by or connected to the University of Toronto.’ ”
New Ways Ministry has critiqued the Courage program because it treats a homosexual orientation as a psychological defect. Though we have reported the establishment of such programs in various U.S. dioceses, this is the first report we have heard of where parishioners have protested the group operating within their community.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry