Friday, July 16, 2010

Reporter's unethical actions violated group's confidentiality

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Father Paul LaFontaine - Pastor, St. Charles Borromeo parish, St. Anthony: As many of you know, Faith In Action, the local chapter of Courage, the only ecclesiastically approved Catholic apostolate for people with same-sex attractions, used to meet regularly — that is, until a local gay magazine outed one of the members, who happens to be a prominent Protestant clergyman; named St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony as the meeting place; and named the priests who take turns leading the group.

Faith In Action, like Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups of people who struggle with various addictions, depends on confidentiality and anonymity so that members can freely discuss their problems in an atmosphere of trust, support and accountability. Faith In Action/Courage adds the all-important elements of prayer, spiritual direction and the sacraments.

How did the magazine find out? A reporter gained admittance to the group under false pretenses, giving a name different from the one that now appears in his byline.

According to the magazine, its policy is against outing a person with same-sex attractions, except when that person publicly denounces homosexual activity while privately practicing it themselves. In other words, the magazine rashly judged the minister guilty of living an active gay lifestyle and of hypocrisy.

Various gay groups and individuals as well as journalists and journalism professors have strongly denounced the magazine and the reporter for unprofessional, dishonest and dishonorable conduct, even though many of them have no time for Faith In Action or the minister’s views, which he regularly proclaimed on radio and cable TV.

My commentary takes the form of some questions:

If an off-duty cop gets tagged for, let’s say, speeding, does that mean she can never again cite someone else for driving too fast?

If a father has a bad habit of swearing, does that mean he can never teach his children not to use God’s name in vain?

Which is the greater hypocrisy: to say something is wrong and do it anyway, or to do something wrong and say it isn’t?

Courage’s goals

In his counterpoint/rebuttal article in [a recent] Star Tribune commentary section, the reporter referred to “psychological abuse” in the group that used to meet at St. Charles, along with many other distortions and caricatures.

The following five goals of Faith In Action/Courage (as posted on their website, www.couragerc.net) were created by the members themselves when the original Courage group was founded in New York. The goals are read at the start of each meeting, and each member is called to practice them in daily life. Read them and judge for yourself:

1. Live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

2. Dedicate one’s life to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.

3. Foster a spirit of fellowship in which all may share thoughts and experiences, and so ensure that no one will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone.

4. Be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in a chaste Christian life, and in doing so provide encouragement to one another in forming and sustaining them.

5. Live lives that may serve as good examples to others. The Catholic Spirit
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