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Philippine bishop to start ministry on same sex attraction

Move will help provide pastoral care for and better understand members of the gay community

Philippine bishop to start ministry on same sex attraction

A Protestant church group calls for support for people with same sex attraction during a gay pride march in Manila. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

A ministry on same sex attraction will be set up in every Philippine diocese to help people understand the thinking of the church about the issue.

"We need to provide [people with same sex attraction] pastoral accompaniment," said Bishop Gilbert Garcera of Daet, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life.

He said the "main objective" of the ministry is to explain to Catholics the church's stand on marriage, the circumstances behind a person having same sex attraction, and to hear stories from such people whose lives were changed.

Citing Pope Francis apostolic exhortation Amores Laetitia, Bishop Garcera said people with same sex attraction deserve "the church's help and guidance."

"We should not condemn them," said the prelate.

He said it is important for dioceses to have a ministry that will respond to their needs.

Courage Philippines, a Catholic group that provides spiritual support for the gay community, said it would welcome the creation of the ministry. 

Edwin Valles, the head of the organization, said there has been little outreach from the church in the way of support groups for people with same sex attraction.

They are "usually left to discover and work their journey on their own," he said.

He said his group encourages people with same sex attraction "to be inspired to live like Christ, a chaste life in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church." 

"One of our goals is to keep everyone mindful that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in a Christian life of a gay or lesbian person," said Valles.

He said, "it is high time the Philippine church assisted men and women with same sex attraction to live in chastity, fellowship, truth and love."

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