The 'Courage Community' bills itself as a supportive program for Catholics struggling with same-sex attractions, but opponents call it a form of "conversion therapy" which they liken to brainwashing.
That's why protesters are planning to assemble at the St. Charles Borromeo seminary in Wynnewood on Saturday in opposition to a daylong meeting of Courage, which they called an "antigay Catholic group."
"What I have a problem with is this really outlandish false information they're putting out there," said Ed Coffin, of the Peace Advocacy Network, who will be leading protests. "Gay people who identify as Catholic are going to be really susceptible."
But Father Philip Bochanski, of the Philadelphia chapter of Courage, denied that the program is "conversion therapy."
"No person in Courage is ever required to partcipate in any kind of therapy seeking a change of orientation," Bochanski said. "Courage is a support group for men and women who are experiencing same sex attractions, trying to understand what the church teaches and trying to live a holy life. We simply try to help people in living a chaste life, meaning intimate sexual acts are reserved for marriage."
Courage's daylong retreat, the "Day of Recollection," is held annually during the season of Lent and about two dozen participants are expected, Bochanski said.
Bochanski said that Courage has no members under 18 and does not participate in "conversion therapy" -- a practice that could be outlawed by bills introduced by state rep. Brian Sims and state sen. Anthony H. Williams.
"Courage is based on the lie or the myth that your sex orientation can or should be changed," Rep. Sims said. "From the evidence I’ve seen they absolutely support conversion therapy, and praying the gay away is just as bad as psychotherapy conversion therapy methods."
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