Papal honors for Father Phillip Bochanski have been announced and priest says they are a recognition of the Courage apostolate’s ministry for people with same-sex attraction at a time when the world, and even parts of the Catholic Church, are unsupportive, confusing, or hostile to their desire to live the Catholic faith in its fullness.

“In this apostolate I’ve met some of the most dedicated people I know. People who at great personal sacrifice are following Jesus with what I would say is heroic virtue,” Bochanski told CNA Nov. 26. “For me it’s been a real blessing to be able to a spiritual father to them.”

Since 2017, Bochanski has been executive director of the Bridgeport, Conn.-based Courage International. The Courage apostolate provides pastoral support, prayer support, and fellowship for people with same-sex attraction who want to live chaste lives according to Catholic teaching.

On Nov. 25, the Philadelphia archdiocese announced that Bochanski was among four people honored with the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, an honor given to Catholics over age 45 with a history of long and distinguished service to the Church and to the office of the pope.

Bochanski: “There’s a significant amount of opposition that the Church’s teaching receives from the secular world, of course, but even in recent years it’s not always clear that everyone within the Church acknowledges and accepts the goodness and the truth of those teachings,” he said….

“Some of our members, in coming back to the Church and embracing a chaste life, lost a lot of friends they had before,” he said. “People don’t understand why they would follow a Catholic teaching that requires so much sacrifice.” For many, this means choosing a celibate life that “certainly requires a new way of looking at themselves and relationships….”

”Many want to be private about their experience but an increasing number are willing to speak about how participating in Courage and living according to Church teaching have changed their lives,” he told CNA. “A number of them talk about how they feel much more free to be themselves, to have strong friendships, to live fully alive because they are embracing this invitation to chastity.”

Some members have reported that people who tried to affirm them in their attractions and desires only increased their unhappiness.

“The fact that people weren’t giving them the truth about their identity and morality was making that much worse.” said Bochanski.

“When they hear the teaching of the Church that our identity is not in our sexual orientation but in our identity as sons and daughters of God, and that God’s plan for chaste relationships is meant to build this up and lead us to fulfillment, it’s a real liberation. They experience a great real freedom by embracing their Church’s teachings….”

The above comes from a Nov. 26 story in the Catholic News Agency.