What if you're a Catholic woman who is attracted to other women?
For the genuine Catholic woman, who wants to live her life according to the teachings of the Church, this can present a struggle.
What does the Church teach about homosexuality? The Catechism of the Catholic Church ( https://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm ) says in paragraph 2357 "...homosexual acts ate intrinsically disordered... Under no circumstances can they be approved." It goes in paragraph 2358 and 2359 on to say "Every sign of unjust discrimination [towards persons with "deep seated homosexual tendencies"] should be avoided. ...Homosexual persons are called to chastity."
So what does this actually mean for a Catholic who has "deep seated homosexual tendencies" (henceforth called a Catholic with SSA/same-sex attraction)?
Well, it means that like all other Catholics, we are called to chastity. For us, this chastity is more likely to take on the image of either single life or maybe even vowed celibacy. A few are lucky enough to also experience attraction to someone of the opposite sex and get married. But for most of us, we are looking at a celibate life.
It also means there'll be awkward moments when someone asks who your crush is, or the local elderly church lady tries to find you a potential husband.... or asks you why some good Catholic man hasn't already snapped you up.
Despite the teaching mentioned earlier, there is also the inevitable experience of discrimination and even, for many of us, of shame. Unfortunately, as much as we all try, Catholics aren't all good at living up to Church teaching - that's why we have Confession, and thank God for that!
There'll be friends who, on finding out, begin to avoid you until the friendship is all but erased. There'll also be supportive friends who want to help you get to heaven. And confused friends who don't understand why you bother following Church teaching (for they certainly don't).
But overall, it can seem a lonely experience... so many people either not understanding/accepting that your attractions are not something you can change, and on the other side, people calling your religion "abusive" and insisting that you must act on your attractions or be unfulfilled.
Enter into the story, Courage. Courage is the only canonically approved Catholic ministry for Catholics with Same Sex Attraction. There are chapters all over the world, where Catholics who have SSA meet to encourage and support each other in reaching our five goals (Chastity, Prayer and Dedication, Fellowship, Friendship and Role Model).
It is a game changer. It takes away the feelings of isolation and replaces them with feelings of family.
(This article is written by Elena Feick, who is speaking as herself who happens to be a Courage member, and not on behalf of Courage or the Church itself in any way)