Conference Talks

A Mother and Father’s Journey with the Son Who Experiences SSA

Peter and Paulette share their experience of life after learning their son has same-sex attraction. They relate the challenges of understanding their son’s condition, finding support for themselves in their beliefs, continuing to love unconditionally, and seeing their son for who he really is without focusing totally on his same-sex attraction.

Speaker: Peter and Paulette Drozdowicz
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 10:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Session: 2


Captivated by Truth: Why the Church’s Truth about Homosexuality Has Set Me Free

Dan will provide a witness testimony that explores how learning the truth about the Church’s teachings on homosexuality led him to embrace this truth and to share his story with others. Dan Mattson will also be part of the discussion panel for Desire of the Everlasting Hills.

Speaker: Daniel Mattson
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 10:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Session: 1


The Catholic Approach to Cooperation with Evil and Its Application to Gender-Related Issues

The talk will address the well-established principles that have been developed within Catholic moral theology for determining licit and illicit forms of cooperation with evil. These principles will be applied to some current issues that confront us in the realm of same-sex attraction and gender identity.

Speaker: Dr. William Newton (Dr. Janet Smith - Q&A)
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Time: 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Session: 3


Changing the Conversation: How Recent Secular Research on Same-Sex Attracted Persons Supports Catholic Teaching

Recent studies of child outcomes with same-sex parents, sexual orientation and health, and the (lack of) genetic basis for same-sex attraction all support the position of the Catholic Church on same-sex attraction and relationships. This presentation will review the research, with copies or links to all the relevant studies, and discuss how this research is beginning, slowly but perceptibly, to change the cultural conversation about gay identity and relationships.

Speaker: Fr. D. Paul Sullins
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Time: 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Session: 2


Charity and Clarity

Given the current social and political climate of our country, conflicting messages are common surrounding the topic of male and female sexuality. This talk will examine common misconceptions held about same-sex attraction, with an emphasis on pastoral support, the dignity of all persons, and the importance of chastity.

Speaker: Dr. Michael Horne
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Session: 1


Christian Anthropology and the Gift of Chastity

Drawing on the unbroken tradition of seeing the human person as an embodied spirit, this talk will review why the Church teaches that our bodies are as much ourselves as our souls are, that our human nature sets boundaries for actions consistent with our flourishing, and that there is a direct connection between the physical and the spiritual. The notion that the experience of same-sex attractions may be part of a particular person’s call to the vocation of celibate chastity will be discussed.

Speaker: Dr. Susan Selner-Wright
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Session: 2


Discerning One’s Vocation Amid the Experience of Same-Sex Attractions

The experience of same-sex attractions often raises profound questions of personal identity, freedom to choose a state in life, and one’s relationship to family, community, and the Church. Christian anthropology provides the context for authentic understanding and discernment of these poignant issues.

This talk will offer insight and practical suggestions to spiritual directors, confessors, and others who assist people experiencing same-sex attractions to discern their vocation in the Church and God’s plan for their lives. Fr. Bochanski will also help lead the discussion panel for An Invitation to Courageous Love (Part 5).

Speaker: Fr. Philip Bochanski
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 7:45 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.


The Emperor’s (New) New Clothes: A Look at the Logic of the (Not So) New “Gender Ideology

The claim of the talk is that behind the invention of the category of “gender” is the attempt to abstract the human being from the constitutive dimension of sexual difference—namely, the rhythm of generations, both those that have gone before and those that will follow—and ultimately from the human (creaturely) condition itself. The talk will endeavor to offer a way to face this new challenge.

Speaker: Dr. Margaret Harper McCarthy
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Time: 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Session: 1


Essentials for Becoming a Life-Giving Safe Space in Ministry

This talk focuses on some practical ways the church community “welcomed and accompanied” Dr. Lloyd as she left lesbianism and sought to obey Christ in all areas of life, including sexuality. In it, she highlights the importance of four postures—toward God, his authority, our current culture, and individual persons—that are essential to becoming a life-giving, safe, and effective minister to those who experience same-sex attraction.

Speaker: Jean C. Lloyd, PhD
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Session: 2


Forging True Friendships

We need to know the difference between true friendship and its manifold counterfeits. Especially now, such friendship is the result of intentional cultivation. How to recognize and forge true friendship is of primary importance in pastoral care today. The role of the virtue of chastity deserves special attention.

Speaker: Dr. John Cuddeback
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Session: 3


Getting There—I Believe It’s Worth the Trip / A Mother and Father’s Journey with the Son Who Experiences SSA

Tina will talk about her own experience of same-sex attraction and about the important and indispensable role of sound Catholic teaching and spirituality in her life. She will reflect on her years working with Fr. Harvey at the Courage office and will also discuss the five goals of Courage as a spiritual plan for all Catholics. Tina is grateful for the lifelong friends she has made and continues to make through this ministry; she believes the Courage apostolate will continue to thrive and grow as an international community committed to shared goals, spiritual support, genuine friendships, and authentic Catholic teaching.

Speaker: Tina Nair / Peter & Paulette Drozdowicz
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Session: 1


In Truth, Patience, and Mercy: Resources from the Bishops to Help Guide Pastoral Formation and Pastoral Care

The cultural and pastoral challenges related to what Pope Francis has described as the “legal deconstruction of the family” and the denial of sexual difference (Amoris Laetitia, nos. 53 and 56) call for the Church’s response.

This talk will highlight recent resources from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that can assist in promoting sound leadership formation and pastoral praxis, in the light of Christ and the truth of the human person, with regard to human sexuality and marriage. The talk will provide an overview of resources, discuss how they contribute to faithful pastoral outreach and accompaniment, and seek the input of the audience on further resources and strategies that might be helpful in advancing the Church’s witness and pastoral care.

Speaker: Dr. Andrew Lichtenwalner
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Time: 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Session: 1


Magisterial Teaching and Practical Experience: A Priest’s Reflection on Courage’s Generation of Pastoral Care

For over thirty-five years, Courage has been faithfully following the norms for pastoral care established by the Church, first by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and later by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. After nine years as the apostolate’s executive director, Fr. Check will reflect on the Church’s wisdom and charity in grounding pastoral care on sound anthropology.

Speaker: Fr. Paul N. Check
Date: Monday, January 9, 2017
Time: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.


Our Prophetic Moment

As followers of Jesus, we are called to bear witness to the truth. The current battle over the redefinition of marriage provides the Church an extraordinary opportunity to love our neighbor through a faithful witness to the truth about human sexuality, family, and marriage. This talk will expose the strategies directed against the Church to silence her, and will provide practical strategies to strengthen her witness in dioceses, parishes, and schools.

Speaker: Peter Herbeck
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Time: 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Session: 3


Preaching About SSA: The Surprising Good News

Preachers in the Church can often be tempted to avoid “hard topics,” such as same-sex attraction, out of “pastoral sensitivity.” Yet the 1986 “Letter to Catholic Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons” by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wisely asserts that “departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it . . . is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral” (no. 15). Informed by his brother Dan’s story and guided by the clear teaching of the Catholic Church, Fr. Steve describes what he has learned from preaching the Good News about the Church’s teaching on same-sex attraction.

Speaker: Fr. Steve Mattson
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 10:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Session: 1


Providing Patient-Centered HIV and AIDS Care in the Era of Effective Treatment

HIV and AIDS treatment has progressed by leaps and bounds over the last two decades. What was previously a fatal illness is now treatable, and health can be restored with the use of one’s daily medications. Yet, the number of new cases of HIV among men who have sex with men continues to rise.

Despite good treatment, the stigma, anxiety, denial, and pain of HIV remains. Patients still struggle with depression and anxiety, and frequently with substance-abuse and HIV complications. The talk will discuss the importance of treating the whole patient as well as effectively treating the HIV infection.

Speaker: Dcn. Timothy Flanigan, MD
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Session: 3


Rethinking Transgenderism

The activists say that transgender feelings are permanent, immutable, and will never change. That premise has no merit and no basis and, as Heyer will show, is completely false.

Speaker: Walt Heyer
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Session: 2


Same-Sex Attractions, Gender, and the Theology of the Body

“Is it okay to be gay if you’re born that way?” “If two people really love each other, how can the Church forbid them to marry?” “What does the Church say about Caitlyn Jenner?” Today, there’s no shortage of questions about what Catholicism teaches on LGBT topics.

Young people especially are bombarded with confusing ideologies regarding gender and sexuality, and often feel unprepared to offer answers to their peers. In this presentation, Jason Evert not only will address how Catholics can respond to these challenging issues through the lens of the Theology of the Body, but will explain how people who experience same-sex attraction can find freedom and love within the Church.

Speaker: Jason Evert
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Time: 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Session: 2


Surviving the Sexual Revolution in Good Conscience

Martin Nussbaum will explain the revolution in the constitutional law regarding sexuality and will survey the torrent of statutes, regulations, and executive orders implementing the new sexual order. He will show how these laws burden the religious exercise of Catholics and their institutions. He will then discuss the importance of religious freedom and offer a comprehensive strategy to protect the values and consciences of religious persons and entities.

Speaker: L. Martin Nussbaum
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.


Transgender Surgery and Christian Anthropology

Dr. Lappert will present a discussion of the “transgender” phenomenon, its historic roots, the scientific evidence for the existence of such a condition, and the moral and ethical problems of the use of medicine and surgery in the treatment of this condition.

Speaker: Dcn. Patrick Lappert, MD
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Session: 2


Understanding the Sexual Revolution

The current controversy over redefining marriage arises from a long-standing disregard for the well-being of children. This disregard has both arisen from and is driven by earlier phases of the Sexual Revolution. Without policies and social practices such as no-fault divorce and the widespread promotion of contraception, society could scarcely imagine such a concept as genderless marriage. The time-honored teachings of the Church offer a humane and realistic alternative to the Sexual Revolution.

Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Session: 1


Washed, Justified, Sanctified: Good News and Same-Sex Attraction

There are few biblical passages that are more countercultural than those that address sexual activity between partners of the same sex. In fact, it is virtually impossible to construe many, if not all of them, in a way that is accessible to the contemporary sensibility. But the Christian receives these teachings in the context of the Good News of Jesus Christ, which acknowledges that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). At the heart of the Gospel of God’s mercy is the possibility of transformation of the human heart, so as to enter into the joy of forgiveness and a redeemed life.

Speaker: Most Rev. Michael Byrnes
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Time: 10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Session: 1


Who Am I to Judge? Sharing the Good News of Chastity in a Relativistic Culture

How do we talk about homosexuality, gender, and chastity in a world that no longer believes in truth? When bombarded with messages of “Be tolerant!” “Don’t judge!” and “Coexist!” many good people feel afraid to say that anything is right or wrong anymore. This presentation aims to give Catholics greater confidence in God’s moral law, greater clarity in how to explain it effectively to our secular friends, and greater compassion for those with whom we disagree.

Speaker: Dr. Edward Sri
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Time: 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Session: 2


Why Language or Terminology Matters

This talk explores why the terminology for different conditions, most particularly homosexuality, changes. Among other reasons, sometimes it is because our understanding of the condition changes, sometimes it is because the meaning of the original words are no longer understood, and sometimes it is in order to use more pastoral language. The value of blunt language is also explored.

Speaker: Dr. Janet Smith
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Working Out SSA Together

The one advantage of our now “gay-friendly” culture is that it demands that we face and deal together with the reality of same-sex attraction in our marriages and families. Annette and Andrew shall discuss how they do this in their marriage and how they would advise families to do this with their kids. Overall, their perspective is to turn down the heat and point all members to the goal of chastity, which creates a level planning field for each family member.

Speaker: Andrew Comiskey, MDiv / Annette Comiskey
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time: 10:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Session: 2