Discord Q&A: Homosexual Conversion Therapy

QUESTION: what is the Church’s view on conversion camps?

DAVID: The Church doesn’t have a particular, published view or stance on many moral issues. My answers to a lot of moral questions is extrapolated from Church teaching on broader issues. In this case, The Church acknowledges the reality of homosexuality as part of a person’s personality (“deep-seated homosexual tendencies” CCC 2358, see below)— considering conversion therapy denies that, then such therapy would likely do grave damage to a person’s psyche and therefor an act of violence toward them. “Homosexual persons are called to chastity.” is taught in the Catechism (CCC 2359), NOT that homosexual persons are to deny their sexuality , live as heterosexual persons, or attempt to altar the character of their sexual attraction.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Interestingly, I couldn’t find much on the morality of doing psychological harm on a person, as an act unto itself, but it does talk about disproportionate or avoidable risk to psychological integrity as a part of scientific experimentation, which I think could be extrapolated to address the above issues:

2295 Research or experimentation on the human being cannot legitimate acts that are in themselves contrary to the dignity of persons and to the moral law. the subjects’ potential consent does not justify such acts. Experimentation on human beings is not morally legitimate if it exposes the subject’s life or physical and psychological integrity to disproportionate or avoidable risks. Experimentation on human beings does not conform to the dignity of the person if it takes place without the informed consent of the subject or those who legitimately speak for him. [emphasis added]

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,140 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”141 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. [all emphasis added]

Published by Catholic Campus Ministry Asheville

A ministry of the Diocese of Charlotte, serving the Catholic communities at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, Mars Hill University, Warren Wilson College, and UNC-Asheville.