I was reading today about the Governor of New Jersey acting to ban "Gay Conversion Therapy", and wanted to know if this is just one more thing that Catholics would have a moral obligation to oppose.

The Catechism is clear in its stance, but vague in what it requires that people do when it says that the act is intrinsically disordered, but unjust discrimination is to be avoided.

So, to boil it down, is what the media calls Gay Conversion Therapy tantamount to unjust discrimination or is it a corporal work of mercy?

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    "The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate. Based upon this analysis, I sign this bill into law." Gov. Christie
    – TRiG
    Aug 19, 2013 at 18:28
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    @TRiG I've heard the American Psychological Association has some curious notions about masturbation that Catholics should be wary of, but I don't see them being made law.
    – Peter Turner
    Aug 19, 2013 at 19:03
  • @TRiG I've also heard the APA has a good number of high ranked members that identify as homosexual. If that's true, perhaps they shouldn't be in charge of such analyses, considering that's a conflict of interest.
    – user3961
    Jul 8, 2015 at 16:54

2 Answers 2


According to a statement made by The Catholic Medical Association in November of 2000, gay conversion therapy is considered a corporeal work of mercy.

This statement clearly points out that Catholic therapists are obligated to encourage chastity in all situations. The Church has always taught (and will always teach) that chaste behavior is required for spiritual health and well-being.

It should be pointed out that Catholics cannot support forms of therapy which encourage the patients to replace one form of sexual sin with another. (Schwartz 1984) Some therapists, for example, do not consider a patient "cured" until he can comfortably engage in sexual activity with the other sex, even if the patient is not married. (Masters 1979) Others encouraged patients to masturbate using other-sex imagery. (Blitch 1972; Conrad 1976) Catholic therapists working with Catholic individuals should feel free to use the wealth of Catholic spirituality in this healing process. Those with father wounds can be encouraged to develop their relationship with God as a loving father. Those who were rejected or ridiculed by peers as youngsters can meditate upon the Jesus as brother, friend, and protector. Those who feel unmothered can turn to Mary for comfort. (Homosexuality and Hope, part I, sect. 5-6)

As you pointed out, the CCC is clear about the chastity of those afflicted with same-sex attraction:

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. (CCC 2359)

The Church, as well as the CMA, teaches that anyone with any type of sexual disorder (i.e. masturbation, adultery, homosexuality etc.) should be approached with nondiscriminatory therapeutic charity. Where ever mercy is needed, the Body of Christ should be there.

The teachings of the Catholic Church on sexual morality are explicitly clear and do not allow exceptions. Catholics have a right to know the truth and those working with or for Catholic institutions have an obligation to clearly enunciate that truth. Catholics must, of course, reach out to individuals experiencing same-sex attraction, to those actively involved in homosexual acts, and particularly to those suffering from sexually transmitted diseases, with love, hope, and the authentic, uncompromised message of freedom from sin through Jesus Christ. (Homosexuality and Hope, part I, sect. 5-6)

History has shown that whenever the Church makes a counter-cultural stand to defend her morals, she is always met with opposition. This sometimes puts a heavy burden on those providing medical and psychological treatment. Nevertheless, the Church stays true to the Law of Christ, which is the Law of Merciful Love. Catholic physicians and therapists are obligated to do the same.

While any attempt to teach the sinfulness of illicit homosexual behavior may be greeted with accusations of 'homophobia', the reality is that Christ calls all to chastity in keeping with the particular state of life. The desire of the Church to help all live chastely is not a blanket condemnation of any who find chastity difficult but rather the compassionate response of a Church seeking to imitate Christ, the Good Shepherd. (Ibid.)

  • The statement conflates having-the-orientation, and acting-on-orientation you have. The chastity requirement in Catholic teaching is far more reasonable than that statement.
    – pterandon
    Aug 20, 2013 at 13:17

Do Catholics psychologists have a moral obligation to treat homosexuality as a perversion?

Yes for it is written

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. - 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NRSV Catholic Edition


So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.

Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?” Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? - Ezekiel 33:7-11 NRSV Catholic Edition

If we love people, and we saw that they were in danger of losing out on heaven, we would naturally want to turn them to Jesus that they may be saved.

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    -1. Good answers from a Catholic perspective should be able to stand on all three legs of Sacred Scripture, Magisterial teaching and Sacred Tradition. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment expressed, but I've got no basis for accepting this as Church teaching.
    – Peter Turner
    Aug 19, 2013 at 19:51

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