The archbishop of Denver has endorsed a program which supports “ex-gay” therapy, praising efforts by the program’s founder who has said that “Satan delights in homosexual perversion.”
The conference, “Gender Matters: Fighting for a New Generation,” was hosted by the Archdiocese of Denver in conjunction with the Christian group, Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries. A banner advertising the conference was hung outside a property which includes the archdiocesan offices and two seminaries. It read:
“There is no such thing as a ‘gay’ person…That is a popular myth. Satan delights in homosexual perversion.”
This quote is attributed to Andrew Comiskey, the founder and executive director of Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries, who spoke at the conference. The Colorado Times Recorder reported:
“Comiskey repeated these ideas at the conference, telling the crowd that all LGBTQ people are ‘deceived’ and ‘not seeing reality clearly.’
“‘The enemy is intent on sowing seeds of deception in really bright and really colorful and really fragile people, and that’s what the whole LGBT juggernaut is. . .And if any Christian teacher, pastor, or anyone else says, “Oh yes, that’s really who they are,” then they are a perpetrator of that deception.'”
Comiskey’s ministry seemingly approves of “ex-gay” or reparative therapy in response to being gay. The ministry’s website said that “identification with Christ displaces a homosexual identity” and recommended the anti-gay organization NARTH as a resource for those seeking “ex-gay” therapy. At least two speakers at the Denver conference spoke about altering their sexual orientation and becoming heterosexual.
Archbishop Samuel Aquila encouraged conference participants to establish Desert Streams/Living Waters Ministries groups in the archdiocese, groups which include “key insights from reparative and developmental psychology” according to the Colorado Times Recorder. The news outlet continued:
“Still, Aquila told the 200 people attending the conference, which drew protests from local activists, that Comiskey’s program, which does not appear to be targeted at minors, will succeed ‘within our parishes, within our communities’ with the leadership of parishioners ‘who want to lead this and really desire to lead it.’
“‘And so, I ask you to prayerfully consider, as you are going through today, to really reflect upon, “Am I called to do this? Am I open to doing it? Am I receptive to the Lord?”‘said Aquila, who’s decried the sexual preferences of LGBTQ people in the past and has identified “homosexuality” as a cause for sexual abuse by priests.”
Aquila also claimed that people involve with “ex-gay” efforts will be “persecuted” by the wider culture. He added that already several priests from the archdiocese have undergone trainings with Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries and came back with “great reports,” and that preceding the conference, some 35-40 priests met with Comiskey privately. Aquila previously endorsed Comisky’s efforts in a promotional video.
Local LGBTQ advocacy groups condemned the conference. Rev. Amanda Henderson, who heads the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, said the “moral crisis” was not LGBT people, but “when people cause harm to others in God’s name” and forget scriptural calls to love and inclusion. One Colorado’s Daniel Ramos said now was the moment for a statewide ban on such therapies. The City Council in Denver enacted such a ban this month.
Earlier this week, Bondings 2.0 covered a Scottish diocese’s website which linked to some materials endorsing “ex-gay” therapy. Commenting on that story, I said that most church leaders had chosen an ambivalent path by remaining quiet on the issue and that they should more clearly condemn the harmful practice. But Archbishop Aquila has diverged from the just path of condemnation and even with the path of ambiguity by offering his full-throated endorsement of a torturous practice. For the safety and well-being of LGBTQ people, especially youths who may be forcibly subjected to these practices condemned by every medical and psychological expert, it is time for U.S. bishops to step up and make a fraternal correction of their peer. To remain silent in the face of this evil is to be complicit in the harm being done in Denver.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, January 24, 2019