A Catholic-run conference aims to help clergy, lay ministers, and medical and mental health professionals provide better support for people who experience same-sex attraction or confusion about sexual identity.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix and Father Paul Check, the executive director of Courage International, invited to the conference clergy, vowed religious, lay ministers and other relevant professionals in a Sept. 15 letter.
“The ‘Truth and Love’ project endeavors to bring the clarity and charity of Catholic teaching to challenging questions, while never losing sight of individual people,” they said. The event aims to offer “sound practical and pastoral guidance.”
The Truth and Love Conference, now in its third edition, will be held Jan. 9-11, 2017 in Phoenix, Ariz. at St. Paul Catholic Church. The conference’s sponsors are the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, the Catholic apostolate Courage, and the Catholic publishing company Our Sunday Visitor.
Among the clergy to speak will be Bishop Olmsted, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, and auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Byrnes of Detroit. Fr. Check will speak, as will Courage associate director Fr. Philip Bochanski.
Other speakers include Deacon Timothy Flanigan, M.D., a Brown Medical School professor who has been a leader in HIV care; Dr. Andrew W. Lichtenwalner, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute.
Several of those who appeared in the Courage documentary “Desire of the Everlasting Hills” will speak at the conference, including writer and speaker Daniel Mattson and Rilene Simpson.
The conference will include testimony from people who experience same-sex attractions on how the Church and chaste friendships have helped them journey towards chastity and sanctity, organizers said.
Experts will speak on a Christian view of humanity, natural law, Scripture, chastity and the psychology of homosexuality.
The conference will also discuss how pastors, family and friends can best love those who experience same-sex attractions or sexual identity confusion. It aims to provide “practical recommendations and tools” for communicating Catholic teaching on homosexuality and sexual identity to parishes, schools and students. These recommendations aim to be “an integral part of the New Evangelization,” the conference said.
The conference will open and close with a Mass.