Too often we read about stories where Catholic institutions are severing ties with secular organizations because of LGBT issues. So, it’s refreshing to learn that a Catholic hospital in New Jersey is partnering with a local university to help families with LGBT members.
NJ.com reports that St. Peter’s Healthcare System will be working with Rutgers University School of Social Work to conduct a study that aims to help familiesadjust to the news that their son or daughter is LGBT. In addition to research, the program will provide professional counseling for participants through the New Brunswick, NJ, institutions. The news article explains:
“Known as ‘New Brunswick Family Solutions,’ the goals of the program are: to establish a family therapy program for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Brunswick-area youth in a faith-based setting; to identify promising family therapy interventions for LGBT youth that increase family acceptance and support, and to disseminate the findings in scholarly venues as well as among social service agencies, community health centers and local houses of worship (Catholic and non-Catholic alike) in order to identify community needs and plan for improved community services.”
Bishop Paul Bootkoski of the Diocese of Metuchen has approved the venture, citing Catholic teaching:
” ‘Though “traditional” Catholic teachings have been viewed by some as antithetical to LGBT behavior,’ Bootkoski said, ‘a major tenet of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care, as set forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is that society is called upon to care for the most vulnerable of its members.’ “
Similarly, a hospital official used religious reasoning to explain their participation in the program
” ‘To continue the healing ministry of Jesus Christ,’ said Tabiri Chukunta, executive director of community outreach for Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, ‘we extend care to all people, regardless of their beliefs. Those words are at the core of our healing mission.’
” ‘It is further believed that sponsoring the New Brunswick Family Solutions program would benefit New Brunswick by diminishing the risk of dissolution of families of LGBT youth as well as the consequences of family disruption such as mental illness, substance abuse and increased HIV risk,’ Chukunta said. “The program will enable us to treat families and individuals who are in crises, a major tenet of our mission.”
The practical benefits of such are venture are hopeful:
“Research has shown that strong parental relationships can enhance LGBT youth resilience, insulate them from mental and substance abuse problems, and reduce HIV risk, according to Michael LaSala, Ph.D., LCSW, and a professor at the Rutgers University School of Social Work. LaSala is heading the research study.”
The program will work with 20 families. Interested participants in the New Brunswick, NJ, area can get more information by contacting La Sala at 732-910-9901 or email@example.com.
We need to see more of these positive partnerships between Catholic institutions and groups with expertise in LGBT issues. Earlier this year, a Catholic school in England announced a partnership with that nation’s leading LGBT rights group to educate their teachers in ways to reduce anti-gay bullying. Such projects show that Catholic leaders take seriously our church’s call to protect the lives of LGBT people, something that is too often expressed only in words, not action.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry