Human Rights Campaign!

HRC Calls Catholic ’12 Step’ Program For Gay Men ‘Snake-Oil’

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest gay rights advocate, on Wednesday called on a Catholic diocese to end its “12 step” program for gay men.

The Catholic Diocese of Colorado Spring’s just-launched Twelve Steps of Courage program is modeled after programs offered by Alcoholics Anonymous.

Participants in the program admit that they are powerless in overcoming their attractions to men, ask God for help, and make amends to those they’ve hurt, Colorado Springs-based The Gazette reported. The men must also admit that they are “defective.”

“The diocese should be ashamed for selling this snake-oil therapy that mental health professionals have denounced,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “Programs like this say they offer hope but in reality they demean and denigrate LGBT people’s sense of self-worth.”

“It’s not about therapy and not about activism,” Rev. Larry Brennan, diocese director of priest formation, told the paper. “It’s about support.”

(Thanks for the link, raysny!)

  • Mike

    Morals masquerading as disease. Old habits die hard. The utter hypocrisy of the Catholic Church makes this issue particularly hard to digest.

    My wife and I are a lifelong Catholics and we still feel an affinity to the Church. However I have cut way back on donations, giving money instead to a local chapter of the United Way. Like any well-entrenched institution the Church will change its ways when the flow of $$$ starts drying up.

  • Gunthar2000

    There is a huge anti-Catholic sentiment in AA culture.
    I could never understand why the Catholic church is so supportive.
    Then again… I could never understand the Catholic church.

  • Mike

    Yeah, I can’t tell you how many times I heard the phrase “I’m a recovering Catholic” in the halls. Other than that I never got the sense that there was an overt anti-Catholic sentiment in the program. Where I’m from the majority of people are Catholic so they halls were filled with them.

  • mfc66

    In the meetings i wet to there were a huge amount of catholics mainly due to the Irish/Scottish population in London. They were some of the most commited steppers and sharers probably due to being used to confessing since they were young.I saw many parrallels between the catholic church and some of the methods used in AA. In fact I can think of a few who converted to Catholicism including one who I would class as a facist who was also a homosexual.

  • howlermonkey

    I never saw any anti-Catholic stuff where I was. Lotta Catholics in my old meeting.

    But using the 12 steps on the fake “disease” of homosexuality is pretty telling about the entire 12 step mentality. Anything to prevent someone from thinking about the real nature of their problem. People with alcohol problems must never think about what got them in their addictive state of mind and how they can get out of it. Gay Catholics must never think about why they have to worship a god who gave them a perfectly natural desire and then forbade it for no good reason. Instead, accept your powerlessness, turn off your brain, do as you’re told, work the steps, spin your wheels.

  • Ben Franklin

    Geez Mike, I thought you were an amoral atheist. Tony J can’t be wrong.

  • Mike

    @mfc, one guy who sponsored me was quite the holy roller. He had done a year or two in seminary, was a popular circuit speaker. He was also unabashedly racist. Buchman’s legacy lives on

  • Lucy

    Infuriating, shaming, bullshit.

    In 1988, my friend Sam was told by a treatment counselor that he had contracted AIDS and was dying because being gay was a “part of his disease (alcoholism)”

    I hated that woman then and I have no patience for this crap now. If “gay” is a disease, so is being white,black or Asian.

  • AnnaZed

    It depends on where you are geographically. In suburban Southern California the mix is generally white males who would make model John Birch Society ( members if they could read. So, of course, ugly insulting generalizations about Catholics abound along with racist attitudes about Blacks and Mexicans (where the anti-Catholic attitudes neatly dovetail), outrageous misogyny, practically bizarre right wing jingoism and general plug ignorant sophistry. Really, if these people had an once of education they would be dangerous.

    I am reminded of Sinéad O’Connor 20 years ago:

  • Gunthar2000

    If anyone is interested in what the Pope has to say about homosexuality, and why it is supposedly a disorder, here is an interesting letter that he wrote in 1986…

  • Mike

    @g2k, the pope is a funny case. He wears red leather shoes, has a handsome assistant, and is, well, prissy. I’d say if the term ‘denial’ needed a poster boy he might be the go-to guy. A reminder to any forum newcomers, I’m catholic.

  • HA Homophobia Anonymous – it has been thought of in the past. All they need now is to have the Court System force them to go if they are infringing on peoples rights with homophobic practices. Maybe it can be called a disease and doctors can send you to it. The 12 Step magic bandwagon.

  • sugomom

    My son goes to a Catholic high school. About 14 years ago our parish priest had an affair with a married woman and they had a son together. The Catholic church sent him to a rehab program (not sure if it was sex or alcohol or both) and he fell off the face of the earth…until his son was of high school age…..then so that he could send his son to the school for free, the church assigned him to be the high school priest. When I was being raised my parents would send me to “talk to the priest” whenever I had a problem. So when my son’s father got 13th stepped in the program…..I did NOT send him to “talk to Fr. Joe’

  • hulahoop

    Does the guy who is currently the Pope sanction this? No offense to the Catholics, it seems to me the Catholic religion changes based on the Pope’s opinion. Yeah, I know the Pope is supposed to have a special hotline to God…kind of like the Batphone. But so do a bazillion people in AA.

    Good Lord, if you are gay, then go be gay. It isn’t a disease that needs curing. It is what people are to the core. Sometimes it is hard to accept what you are based on what society tells you or how society treats you. Twelve steps are not going to “cure” anyone from being gay. Just go do your thing. Anyone who matters will love you and it won’t matter to them.

    Did the Catholic church test this program on their homosexual priests with amazing results? Are all of the homosexual priests totally 100% hetrosexual now? Will the molestation of young boys now stop? Are they now getting laid regularly by someone of the opposite sex? WTF? Has anyone but me seen the commercials on televison where they show Catholics talking about how they rediscovered their faith and are now headed back? The timing of this revolutional new program comes as no surprise.

  • MA

    The last Pope is on the fast track to sainthood. The current Pope has attributed some woman’s sudden cure of Parkinson’s to John Paul II. All he needs is one more miracle attributed to him, and he is in! The crack team at the Vatican is working on it now. Maybe they can check this group in Colorado. Maybe one of these guys got “cured” from gayness by praying to John Paul. If that’s the case, it’s a done deal.

  • Martha

    This may not stop the drive to canonize J2P2, but this week it was revealed that in a 1997 letter The Vatican told Catholic Bishops in Ireland not to report suspected cases of child abuse to the police.

    “DUBLIN – A 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police — a disclosure that victims’ groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the church enforced a worldwide culture of covering up crimes by pedophile priests.

    The newly revealed letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland’s first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.

    The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church’s right to handle all child-abuse allegations and determine punishments in house rather than give that power to civil authorities.”

    I wonder if he could become the patron saint of obstruction of justice?

  • Gunthar2000

    It’s a miracle that they could get away with it!

  • diablo

    Gunthar2000 says
    There is a huge anti-Catholic sentiment in AA culture.
    I could never understand why the Catholic church is so supportive.
    Then again… I could never understand the Catholic church.

    What are you basing this presumption on. I’m Catholic pretty much from the same New England scene your from. I didn’t see it.
    Actually there was a war in my family going on when I was born. The German side was Protestant and the Irish side was Catholic. My mom won.
    Maybe I don’t understand what exactly is your point.

  • MA

    I never saw any anti-Catholic sentiment in AA. In New England, the Bible belt or Canada.

    I did see a lot of anti-science and anti-atheism. Tony is prime example of that.

  • Gunthar2000


    I’m basing that on anecdotal evidence.

  • diablo

    Now to the topic, Catholicism has been raping the lands and their inhabitants for millenniums, in the name of Christ.
    The Pope should commit suicide and the Vatican should be vacated. All holding should be liquidated and given to the disenfranchised and the abused they fed on.
    The emplyess (because their not priests, they have no personal contract with God) their God is their boss, the Vatican should be laid off, then quickly arrested for any and all outstanding criminal charges. They are pedophiles and what do we do with pedo’s,
    lock them up and watch them abused in prison. Eye for an eye.
    Just my feeling.

  • Martha

    “All holding should be liquidated and given to the disenfranchised and the abused they fed on.”

    Actually in the movie version of “Shoes of the Fisherman” the pope, played by Anthony Quinn did something like that by announcing that the Vatican would sell off it’s wealth to feed the hungry.

  • diablo

    I am typing to fast again and not constructing readable sentences.
    Sorry. I think you get my meaning.

  • diablo


  • diablo

    MA says
    I did see a lot of anti-science and anti-atheism.

    diablo says
    Hey MA, would you go on to explain to me what it means exactly in your opinion/experience to see anti-science. Why are AA’ers anti-science.

    Get anti-atheism…..yep crazy folks when it comes to religion in AA.

  • Mike

    When jesus returns I have a feeling he’s gonna start the temple clearing in rome…

  • hulahoop

    Actually in the movie version of “Shoes of the Fisherman” the pope, played by Anthony Quinn did something like that by announcing that the Vatican would sell off it’s wealth to feed the hungry.

    Yeah, right Martha. You and I know our chances of winning the lottery are a lot better than that. I live in the deep South where preachers place photos of themselves on billboards and preach prosperity. I wonder how they can feel justified driving that new Mercedes and living in that McMansion when so people are suffering.

    I am not denying a preacher nor the Pope a right to have a decent place to live or a dependable car to drive. Just as I am not denying rehabs enough cash flow to stay in business. Greed is greed…plain and simple. As long as money is involved the results will be the same. There is no difference. People will always make money based on the misery of others and sleep very well about it.

  • hulahoop

    @Mike – When jesus returns I have a feeling he’s gonna start the temple clearing in rome

    Yeah, and he will most likely move on to the big mega churches as well for buying in to the bullshit and disguising it and making it more palatable for the masses. I do believe there is a special place in hell for people who knew better, used the cloak of Jesus to hide behind, and duped the masses. And then he will most likely go for AA for preaching the bullshit they preach and for taking advantage people when they were at their most vulnerable.

  • causeandeffect

    I was raised Catholic also. I have heard a woman share about how she told a priest that she was much closer she was to the AA god than he was and knew more about god than he did. What arrogance! I’ve also heard the “recovering Catholic” bit numerous times. There seems to be a lot of Catholics in AA here but IDK if it’s due to a larger percentage of Catholics in the area. There doesn’t seem to be enough Catholic churches to support that hypothesis. I’ve often wondered if it’s because Catholics are comfortable with guilt, manipulation and confession.

    It’s just unbelievable that they think they can change someone’s sexual orientation with the 12 steps. It’s deplorable to even try. I hope this priest finds himself sitting alone in that church basement!

  • raysny

    I heard that one of John Paul II’s miracles was a card trick.

  • raysny

    Benjamin Rush was the first person in the US who talked of alcoholism being a disease. He also thought that being black was a disease.

    Could you imagine a 12step program for being black?

  • Acacia H

    This is how I see it.
    I too was raised Catholic. I come from a line of Jamican/Irish Catholics. Any Catholic that goes into a AA meeting (in a church) and sees pictures of Bill W and Doc Bob in there must surely hear bells ringing! That’s what got my mind thinking. I felt it an insult! Someone mentioned on a post the other day about Christians and Catholics. Just pointing out that Catholics are Christians!

  • Vera

    I suspect that the only organization losing members faster than AA is the Catholic church.

  • Mike

    @Acacia, I don’t think the Catholic Church has any problems at all with pictures of Bii and Bob on the walls. If any Church is a proponent of idolatry then its that one.

  • willcat

    The Catholic Diocese has such a good running legacy and now its pointed its ever righteous eye on the alcohol inclined treatment of gays Such is lowly as it is perverted.. Good continues of falsehoods with much admirable pathological perversion Way to go Pope Master Pimp..

    Addendum…I’m an ass-hole.

  • Acacia H

    Yes idolatry of Jesus, Mary and so on but not Bill and Doc Bob. I have to say though. Ive never gone to a meeting in a Catholic church. They’ve always been in other Christian denominations. Maybe it would be an idea for me to do some research on how many Catholic churches in the UK that hold AA meetings.

  • lucy

    It’s hell on earth to live with a family member who is drinking himself or herself to death. The one good part of Al-Anon is that it tells that family member that there is no way to make someone else stop drinking. But after that, it seems that it just interferes with getting the family members the therapeutic help they might need to deal with the grief.

  • lucy

    Ray – Of course I can. I lived in Hawaii as a kid, and there was a program in the public schools to discourage “acting Hawaiian.” The kids could not wear mumus, or other bark cloth, flip-flops, go barefoot or worship non-Christian gods.

    Isn’t that exactly what the Bureau of Indian Affairs did with the Indian schools?

    Our country (and the Catholic Church) has a history of that kind of thinking.