The following comes from a Jan. 14 story in the Valley Catholic.

Always Our Children, the 1997 document of the U.S. bishops, formed the basis of a Faith Formation workshop, Pastoral Message to Ministers and Parents of Homosexuals.

The workshop was sponsored by the diocese of San Jose Office of Pastoral Planning Resource Committee and was facilitated by Father John Curran, OMI and David Kennedy of the archdiocese of Los Angeles.

The presenters’ message was that “the Good News is that God loves us all unconditionally.” Kennedy noted that “being in the closet is unhealthy” but many homosexuals, especially Catholics, feel safer not to reveal their identity.

Sometimes, he said, “when their child comes out, the parents go in! It is especially difficult to be gay and Catholic. Some remain Catholic but in the closet; some reject religion but find out they are missing something and want to reconcile. How can we keep them and/or welcome them back?

Father Curran said Catholic gays “have been taught self-hate. Many years ago there was no such thing as ‘coming out.’ They did the ‘right thing’–married, had kids, but, some realized they were living a lie.”

He said that ethnic cultures vary as to how they handle homosexuality and that, combined with family, church and school connections are the most influential aspects of the issue for individuals.

Father Curran said that “coming out is a lifelong process and it’s starting earlier and earlier.” If not accepted, he said, homosexuals can become victims of alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and even suicide. “Even mild acceptance will cut these statistics substantially.”

He pointed out that Always Our Children was a pastoral letter that was approved by the Vatican. “One of its main messages,” he said, “is to say to parents that they are not at fault as parents. Their children, and their sexuality, are gifts from God.”

Kennedy said that it is possible to reconcile the pastoral letter with people’s different views. “The Church condemns certain actions,” he said, “and asks people to wait regarding sexuality. Psychological and spiritual intimacy must come first. Don’t rush into anything.”

Several people at the workshop had questions regarding “primacy and freedom of conscience,” and related personal family situations.

Father Curran’s advice was that it is the “duty of Catholics to know Church teaching” as a basis for making any decisions. Everybody has his or her individual journey. People are living different realities.”

He added that today there “are many different manifestations of gender with challenging relationships. I think keeping a sense of humor is very important in dealing with all this.”

As a priest for 36 years, Father Curran noted, “Primacy of personal conscience is very important. The Church is not your conscience.”

To read the original story, click here.