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Hartford's holy bullies say stop having gay sex - VIDEO

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This week I read that the Hartford Archdiocese in Connecticut, in the state that already grants full marriage equality to its same sex couples, wants to turn the clocks back. Like, way back.

On Tuesday the Catholic archdiocese there announced a plan to open a local chapter of a national ministry called Courage 'to support men and women who (struggle) with homosexual tendencies and to motivate them to live chaste and fruitful lives in accordance with Catholic Church teachings.'

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Notice they call it your 'struggle' with same sex attraction. They could never imagine it would be something you'd welcome. That's a tacit admission of the part they are playing in ensuring that a climate of hostility endures. In truth, more gay Catholics end up struggling with the Church's pretzel theology.

I call it the Catholic Church's pretzel theology for a good reason: they teach you can be gay in theory but not practice. You deserve to be loved, but you don't deserve to experience it, ever. And if one day you actually have the misfortune to fall in love the first thing you should do is pray for forgiveness, obviously. Because although God made you gay, He doesn't want you express yourself. Because that would be a sin.

Stupid and self-defeating, isn't it?

It's tragic beyond all telling how much damage this blatant nonsense, this oft-repeated confidence trick, has done to generations - centuries actually - of otherwise laudable men and women. So why is it being done again, even after the American Psychological Association has clearly ruled how harmful it is to try and change sexual orientation - or in this case, eradicate it completely by its complete disavowal.

I have my own theories. It's one of the first things you learn at school: bullies target you to take the heat of themselves. If you've ever been a bullies target (and lets face it, most of us have) were you surprised to learn later on they'd broadcast your supposed sins to cover up their own?

I remember it well, because it happened to me once or twice. The singling out, the scorn, the attempts at shaming, the playing to the gallery confident they held the crowd in their hand. I'm talking about common schoolyard bullies of course, not evangelical Christians and the Catholic Church, although I don't often see much difference between them nowadays.

I know the harm this kind of intentionally wounding edict does to the truly vulnerable. And if it wasn't successful it would not be attempted.

In a week where we read headlines of a US bishop fathering two children and having the Church pay for their college tuition, and of a Cardinal comparing gay people to the KKK, and of multiple abuse cases still in the courts, you'd think that Church representatives might be a little circumspect about casting the first stone.

In 2005, the Archdiocese of Hartford paid $22 million to settle sexual abuse claims brought by 43 people against 14 priests. That's a very significant episode. I can hardly believe that I am writing these words but considering that fact, wouldn't it display more 'courage' if the diocese grappled with its own challenges rather than creating new ones for others?

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