Faithful America has released a strongly-worded warning to the public that advocates of “ex-gay” reparative therapy will play key roles during the upcoming Papal visit and World Meeting of Families here in Philadelphia.
Reparative therapy is best described as the belief that individuals can change their sexual orientation, which Faithful America goes on to describe as a “form of religious and psychological abuse leading to depression, anxiety disorders, and even suicide. Consequently, the American Psychological Association opposes any such therapeutic intervention.”
Of particular concern is the World Meeting of Families, where organizations such as Courage, The NARTH Institute (National Association For Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), The Restored Hope Network, and Legatus will have a presence. One of these organizations, Courage, what Faithful America calls “the leading Catholic organization promoting reparative therapy,” has been invited as a featured exhibitor at the meeting. These groups frequently target children, teenagers, and young adults.
In addition to these organizations, several key speakers at the Meeting are directly tied to reparative therapy: Dr. Janet Smith is the official spokesperson for Courage and features a book in her presentation titled A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. Matthew Pinto, another speaker, wrote in his book Did Adam and Eve Have Belly Buttons, “Dr. Joseph Nicolosi’s Thomas Aquinas clinic in Los Angeles, [has] had good results in helping the homosexual person rediscover his or her heterosexuality. I have listed them in the ‘Resources’ section.” Other pro-restorativ therapy speakers include Helen Alvare, Christopher West, Livio Melina, Curtis Martin, Timothy O’Donnell, and Damon Clarke Owens.
Faithful America’s statement also goes on to note that Archbishop Chaput “sits on boards with several of the speakers, has contributed to organizing with them, and has supported them in other contexts,” including celebrating “the opening Mass for Courage’s 2014 conference at which WMF speaker Helen Alvare gave an address.” The organization suggests that:
“The pro-reparative therapy presence at the 2015 WMF, coupled with the exclusion of mainstream Catholics who minister to LGBT people, calls into question Archbishop Chaput’s commitment to Pope Francis’s vision of a more welcoming and compassionate church. Under Chaput’s leadership, a conference intended to be inclusive of all Catholics will now serve as a platform for ideological extremists outside the mainstream of both church and society.”