At a national conference in Plymouth, Catholic leaders spoke out Wednesday against same-gender sexual relations, claiming it’s harmful and unnatural, but added that the Catholic Church must reach out to those with same-sex attractions.
At the conference, a popular Catholic priest in metro Detroit, the Rev. John Riccardo of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, told about how a family member of his wrestles with how to deal with a gay child.
The three-day conference, titled “Welcoming and Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters with Same-Sex Attraction,” concluded with a mass led by Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, the religious leader of 1.3 million Catholics in metro Detroit. In his homily to about 400 participants at the conference, Vigneron strongly defended the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality.
Other speakers gave explicit talks about sexuality, saying that gay sex is destructive. The conference was criticized by liberal Catholics, including several protesters who gathered Tuesday outside the conference to criticize its message.
“It’s not being a bigot” to say that people should not have sexual relations with people of the same gender, Vigneron told people inside the chapel during mass Wednesday at the Inn at St. John’s, a former seminary, in Plymouth.
He praised the Catholic clergy and lay people who attended the conference, saying they are helping people with same-sex attraction learn “how to grow in chaste continence … share in the chastity of Jesus Christ. That’s the goal.”
“Some people think we’re a bunch of Queen Victorians … prissy,” Vigneron said. “A bunch of blue-stockings. No.”
Rather, Catholics are bringing the “good news” of the gospel and Jesus Christ, he said. He compared leading gays out of same-sex relations to Moses leading people out of slavery in Egypt.