You may be wondering, “What can I get from Dignity Houston that I can’t get anywhere else? Why should I get involved?” These are very important questions.
DignityHouston strives to provide a nurturing, caring community for LGBT persons and their families, friends, and allies who choose to worship in an interactive style that celebrates the Catholic tradition. There are, of course, a whole array of options for doing just that, so again, you might wonder “Why Dignity instead of all of those?” You’ll find lots of reasons for being involved in Dignity on the other pages of this site; on this page, we’ll take a moment to look at some of the alternatives to Dignity.
Why not a welcoming church or denomination?
The Episcopalian Church in America, the Unitarian Church, and others are supportive of the LGBT lifestyle. For some LGBT Catholics, converting to a different denomination or attending a different denomination’s services is an acceptable alternative to traditional Catholic service. For others with strong roots in the Catholic tradition, however, that just won’t do.
Simply walking away from the Catholic Church does nothing to change the Church’s position articulated in then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. In fact, those other denominations once held positions similar to that of the Catholic Church today. It was only through internal advocacy that they changed. The Catholic Church’s hierarchy and Magisterium have made serious errors in the past that they have had to recant. The indictment of Galileo and the condemnation of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute are just two egregious examples. Again, it was only through internal advocacy that the Church corrected those errors.
DignityHouston sees advocacy for the correction of the Church’s errors in teaching on human sexuality as a primary ministry.
Why not a traditional Catholic parish church?
Many DignityHouston members attend their parish church as well as DignityHouston services. DignityHouston encourages all its members to attend their parish churches as appropriate and, from time to time, visits parish churches as a group. DignityHouston members go to All Saints Catholic Church together on the 3rd Saturdays at 5:30 pm. For others, a traditional Catholic parish church just isn’t an acceptable alternative because:
- They have to be closeted about their sexuality.
- They receive anti-gay and hate messages from the clergy and fellow parishioners.
- In an environment as intensely personal as a worship service, they do not feel safe enough to be themselves, to hold hands with the life partner sitting beside them, openly acknowledge a close acquaintance from the LGBT community, or even mention where they went last night.
- They have been mistreated and rejected in the name of Catholic dogma, and staying in the formal Church can be retraumatizing.
- There are no opportunities to participate in a leadership or major contributory role as an out Catholic.
- They want to make a statement of protest against the hierarchy’s position on homosexuality.
However, DignityHouston also affirms that the LGBT lifestyle represents a unique culture with its own values and customs. Many people feel a need to celebrate their religious life within their culture. Because of the Catholic Church’s stance on the LGBT lifestyle, as stated in the On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons document, that cannot be done fully and inclusively just yet in the traditional Catholic parish church. Until such a time as the Church corrects the error of its ways, DignityHouston will continue to fill the void by providing a sacred space for LGBT people to live out their faith with dignity and integrity.
Why not Courage?
DignityHouston does not discourage anyone from joining Courage instead of or in addition to DignityHouston. We feel that, when you have all the facts, you should make an informed decision, and we will support that decision, whatever it is. To assist you in making that choice, we provide you with the comparison of the two organizations below and encourage you to visit the Courage national Web site.
Courage affirms then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Person which states “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.” DignityHouston affirms that the LGBT lifestyle is part of the rich tapestry of human life and, indeed, of the natural order of the mammalian world (Virtually all mammals exhibit same-sex behavior to varying degrees). DignityHouston holds that same-sex behavior between consenting adults in a spirit of caring is not intrinsically evil and is, in fact, a part of God’s Divine plan.
DignityHouston also recognizes that the Magisterium and the Church’s teachings have been in error in the past and, as a human institution, will be in error in the future. One only has to think of its treatment of Galileo for confirmation of that fact. DignityHouston strives to correct the Church’s egregious errors with regard to human sexuality and the LGBT lifestyle.
Goal: “Foster a spirit of fellowship in which all may share thoughts and experiences, and to ensure that no one will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone.” Thus, Courage is an AA-type organization committed to help “homosexuals” avoid their inclination toward homosexuals' thoughts and acts. In fact, they offer their own Twelve Steps of Courage modeled after the famous AA Twelve-Step Program. DignityHouston affirms that the LBGT lifestyle is not centered solely on sexual acts, but rather exists as a culture with its own shared values and customs. DignityHouston strives to promote and nurture that culture by providing nonsexual activities in a spirit of community and fellowship, a community that supports those values and customs, including, for most members, a dedication to the Roman Catholic religion. Goal: “Live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality. (Chastity)” Thus, Courage promotes celibacy for its members if they cannot live successful heterosexual lives. DignityHouston affirms that celibacy is not part of the natural order in the world created by God. One only has to look at the very, very few people who maintain a life of absolute celibacy even among those who have taken a solemn vow of such celibacy after long and careful preparation for it. Even in situations where a person is deprived of human contact, the incidence of masturbation rises very significantly.
DignityHouston holds that God created sex for the pleasure and bonding of humankind, as well as for procreation, and that such sex is a joyous and proper celebration of the wonders of the world God created — for both LGBT and heterosexual persons and all variations in between.
Houston contact for Courage: Fr. Mike van Cleve (713) 468-9555, firstname.lastname@example.org
Why religion at all?
Many LGBT persons and supporters have left behind religion itself because of the repressive view that so many denominations take toward human sexuality and especially same-sex sexuality. There is dissension even within welcoming churches regarding their support of the LGBT lifestyle.
It has been said, “We cannot give a person faith; only God can give that. We cannot give people love; they must find that within their hearts. All we can do is give them hope — the singular characteristic of humankind.” Dignity Houston cannot convince you not to discard your religion because that is a matter of faith, something that only God can give you. What we can offer you is hope for tomorrow in a loving, nurturing community of folks who have shared values and culture.
All are welcome at the table!