An excellent paper which explains the different causes of homosexuality and which shows that Catholic spirituality, combined with good psychotherapy, can result in a complete healing of those with this disorder.
At the present time most Catholics have little to no understanding of the emotional causes of homosexual attractions and behavior nor of the powerful role that Catholic spirituality can play in the healing of this disorder. The reasons for this state of ignorance are numerous and include the scant literature available on the value of the Catholic Faith and sacraments in the resolution of homosexual attractions and acts; failure of traditional therapy to resolve homosexual behavior; views within the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations that homosexuality is not a disorder; and the influence of powerful groups within the media and educational, social service, health and political fields. In addition, there are many factions within the Church herself that are opposed to and are attempting to undermine traditional Catholic moral doctrine on this issue.
The failure to understand the actual causes of homosexuality impacts those who counsel teenagers and adults with this disorder. Therapists regularly tell those seeking help that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is insensitive to homosexuals, unscientific, and erroneous. They are advised to accept themselves as being created homosexual by God. Unfortunately, those giving such counsel usually have little awareness of the emotional conflicts leading to homosexual attractions nor of the healing power available with forgiveness and Catholic spirituality.
In my clinical experience over the past twenty years I have witnessed the resolution of the emotional pain which caused homosexual temptations and behavior in several hundred males and females. Their process of healing occurred, first, through insight-oriented psychotherapy to identify the origins of their conflicts and then through the use of forgiveness and Catholic spirituality. Such a treatment approach is similar in ways to the employment of spirituality in the treatment of substance abuse disorders. In fact, major breakthroughs were made in the management of addictive disorders only after a reliance on God was made the cornerstone of the treatment plan. Prior to that time, traditional psychotherapy alone resulted in minimal improvement. The use of Catholic spirituality in the treatment of homosexuality follows a similar pattern.
The most common conflicts at different life stages that predispose individuals to homosexual attractions and behavior are loneliness and sadness, mistrust and fear, profound feelings of inadequacy and a lack of self-acceptance, narcissism, excessive anger, sexual abuse in childhood and a lack of balance in one’s life coupled with overwhelming feelings of responsibility. During times of stress these inner difficulties are activated. In an attempt to seek relief or to escape from this unconscious emotional pain, strong sexual temptations and behavior can occur. This dynamic of inner emotional suffering leading to homosexual desires and activity rarely can begin during childhood but usually it develops in early adolescence. However, adult life may be the first time for the emergence of this disorder.
Sadness and Loneliness
The most frequently seen cause of sadness in the past leading to homosexual attractions in males was the result of childhood and adolescent rejection by peers because of very limited athletic abilities. Many children who have poor eye-hand coordination are not good in the most popular sports and are on the receiving end of harsh and cruel criticism and rejection by their peers. Subsequently, powerful feelings of loneliness, sadness and isolation develop. The craving for acceptance and love from peers results in strong emotional attractions to those of the same sex which leads many youngsters to think they may be homosexuals.
More recently, the collapse of the nuclear family with almost 40 percent of children and teenagers living apart from their fathers  has resulted in serious problems with sadness and loneliness in our young. Pope John Paul II in his "LETTER TO THE FAMILY" has described the tragic plight of these youngsters, identifying many of them as "orphans with living parents". When the need for warmth, approval, physical affection and praise from a father is not filled, an inner emptiness develops, often referred to today as "father hunger". In an attempt to overcome this pain, some adolescents and young adults seek comfort in being held by another male.
Ted grew up in a home in which his father had very little time for anyone in the family because of his demanding career. Ted’s dad left early in the morning for work, returned drained most nights, and also worked Saturdays. In Ted childhood he felt very lonely wishing that his father were more available and more loving. In early adolescence, in an unconscious attempt to seek relief from this pain, Ted experienced homosexual attractions to older males and later homosexual fantasies of being loved by them.
While many males did not receive praise and physical affection from their fathers and never developed homosexual attractions, those who are particularly vulnerable are those who, because of limited athletic abilities, also did not receive peer acceptance. In my clinical experience, the earlier the father abandonment, the greater the likelihood of homosexual temptations developing. Finally, in some very sensitive males ongoing harsh treatment by older brothers produces an inner loneliness leading to homosexual desires.
The failure to receive warmth, affection, and praise from a mother can result also in a terrible inner emptiness and sadness. Some females will attempt to fill this void for gentle, comforting maternal love through homosexual behavior. This maternal loneliness is not seen as often as father loneliness because mothers generally have a much greater freedom to communicate love and praise to their children than do fathers.
Sue’s was the youngest of three children and her mother left the family when she was four. She saw her mother intermittently through her childhood, but never felt close to her. Sue dated several times in high school and in her early twenties she engaged in homosexual relationships. She entered therapy in an attempt to resolve her sadness and anger with her mother. As her insight grew, she realized that none of the males she had dated could provide the affection that the little girl within craved from her mother. For a period of time the warmth and love from girlfriends was comforting. However, these relationships were unfulfilling. Sue slowly recognized that the little girl within needed to be healed of her pain of maternal loneliness before she could have a stable adult loving relationship.
Some adults who are very frustrated and lonely because they have not yet met the right person to marry back into homosexual behavior in an attempt to seek relief from their loneliness. Married persons may engage in homosexual acts as a result of stress and loneliness in their marriage. Also, the sadness and loneliness that occurs after the ending of a marriage or a serious heterosexual relationship may result in homosexual behavior because these individuals are fearful of becoming vulnerable to someone of the opposite sex. In my clinical work I have seen this pattern occur more frequently in women.
Since loneliness is one of the most painful of all life experiences, significant amounts of energy are expended in attempting to deny the presence of this debilitating pain. As a result, many individuals have no conscious awareness that they struggle with this deep emotional wound. Also, they regularly fear facing this sorrow, in part, because they do not believe that it can be healed. In point of fact those with such views are correct if the attempts to bring healing exclude spirituality, since no amount of adult love can make up for what one did not receive from one’s father, mother, siblings, or peers in childhood and adolescence. Understandably, many men and women with these painful emotional wounds of loneliness would prefer believing that they are homosexual rather than facing their terrible inner sadness.
The failure of any adult love to fill the inner loneliness from childhood and adolescence is the major reason for the extraordinary promiscuity in the homosexual lifestyle with some studies showing an average of sixty sexual partners per year. Unconsciously, stable commitment is not sought because of the realization that no single adult can satisfy the inner child and adolescent. The powerful unhappiness and despair in these individuals result in the highly reckless sexual behavior and explains the reports of 30 to 46 percent of men engaging in unprotected anal intercourse and anilingus.  Such compulsive and pathological behavior supports the view that homosexuality is a serious emotional, mental, and behavioral disorder.
Conflicts with loneliness and sadness can be manifested in many ways other than through sexual acting-out behavior. These include dependent and childlike behavior, a constant need for attention and affection, an excessive sexual fantasy life, compulsive masturbation, attraction to adolescents, dependence upon pornography, narcissistic behavior, exhaustion, and symptoms of depression.
Weak Masculine Identity
Another important cause of homosexual temptations and acting-out behavior is the result of strong feelings of insecurity. A lack of confidence may arise from rejection by parents, peers, siblings, and other significant people in whom one wanted to invest trust. In an unconscious attempt to undo the earlier life rejection, a person may seek validation and acceptance from members of the same sex. In my clinical experience this painful emotional conflict is seen much more frequently in males.
Self-esteem is based primarily on acceptance of the role model in early childhood, the boy with his father and the girl with her mother. Every male child yearns for acceptance, praise, and validation from his father in order to establish a positive sense of well-being and a degree of comfort with himself. While a mother’s love is essential for boys, it is not as important as the father’s love and affirmation to the formation of a healthy male identity. Failure to receive positive feedback from one’s father results in serious weaknesses in the masculine image and a lack of self-acceptance. Many of those with homosexual attractions grew up feeling that they could never please their fathers.
Older male siblings can also play an important role in the establishment of a positive masculine identity in childhood. Rejections in such relationships can produce serious weaknesses in male self-esteem.
However, the most common early life disappointments leading to homosexual desires is the result of peer rejections because of a boy’s poor eye-hand and athletic coordination. This is a very difficult weakness to have in a culture that is obsessed with successful athletic performance to the point where it is seen as the major measure of masculinity. Children who are not athletically coordinated are regularly the last to be chosen to join teams and are often the victims of rejection and ridicule. They are referred to regularly in a feminine manner through the use of such painful names as sissy, fairy, and queer. Also, they may be told that they run or act like a girl. As the betrayal pain by their peer continues year after year, these males feel increasingly inadequate, confused, isolated, lonely, and weak. This harsh treatment by peers results in these youngsters having a very poor body image and a poor sense of their masculinity.
Such males often become scapegoats for their peers, who insult them in an attempt to enhance their own self-esteem. At school these children are victimized particularly during gym class. They often report feeling tortured by their peers. This anguish can be so damaging to masculine identity that it can even override the psychological benefits of having a positive father relationship. For many of these youngsters the homosexual attractions and temptations begin in the sixth or seventh grade. The appeal is usually toward strong and athletic teenagers.
In 1950s and 1960s when it was possible to do research on the causes of homosexuality, a study of 500 males in New York who viewed themselves as homosexuals, revealed that over 90 percent of them had problems with athletic coordination and were subjected to various degrees of humiliating rejection by their peers when young. Many of these males related that not only did they feel like they were failures as males because they either were not good at or did not like sports, but they also felt that they disappointed their fathers, whom they thought had hoped that they would do well athletically. The lack of interest in sports interfered with the father-son closeness and bonding.
The need for male acceptance is essential for the development of a positive male identity and it precedes the adolescent stage of development. If self-acceptance is not attained through peer affirmation, rarely will a boy find himself attracted to girls.
Lou was a very bright college student who had thought from his early adolescence that he might have a vocation to the priesthood. However, the major obstacle to this life path was the presence of homosexual attractions, which began when he was thirteen. He sought the advice of a priest at his college, who told him to pursue the priesthood and to try to accept his homosexuality and be comfortable with it since this was how God had created him. At that time neither Lou nor this priest were aware of the influence on his homosexual desires of the constant peer rejection that he had experienced through childhood and early adolescence. His peers often referred to him in feminine terms because, according to them, he threw a ball like a girl. He was also scapegoated because he was the brightest boy in his class.
Lou decided that he could not pursue priestly training because he would not be unable to live with himself if he tried to lead a double life of being engaged in homosexual acts and at the same time to present himself to the Catholic community as a celibate priest. For several years he attempted to live as a homosexual. Later he sought therapy because he was repulsed by many aspects of that lifestyle, especially the extreme promiscuity and substance abuse. He could not accept that this was God’s plan for his life.
The influence of peer rejections on the development of homosexual desires was confirmed again to me several years ago at the national Courage conference at Rosemont College outside Philadelphia. After giving a talk on the origins and healing of loneliness and anger in those with homosexual attractions, the following hour long discussion with the audience focused almost exclusively on their sharing the wounds to their masculine identity and their various types of sexual acting-out behaviors related to sports rejection in childhood and adolescence. These men believed that the rejections by their peers played a much more important role in the development of their homosexual attractions than hurts from their fathers.
The basic conflicts with low self-esteem are manifested in number of ways in males with the homosexual attractions. These include an obsessive attraction to muscular, athletic men; fantasies of having another body; an excessive need to act in a strong or aggressive manner; a compulsive need to work out; and a profound sense of being unlovable.
Fear and Mistrust
Fear of vulnerability to heterosexual relationships is another important factor in the development of homosexual attractions. This inability to feel safe loving someone of the opposite sex is usually unconscious and originates most often from traumatic experiences within the home. In males this may be a consequence of having a mother who was overly controlling, excessively needy or dependent, angry and critical, unaffectionate and cold, narcissistic and insensitive, very mistrustful, and addicted or ill. In females the fear of trusting males in a loving relationship may arise from having a father who was very angry, rejecting and distant, insensitive toward the mother, abusive, harsh, selfish, addicted, or unloving. Today, abandonment pain by the father from divorce is one of the major sources of male mistrust in females who develop an unconscious dread of being hurt as they saw their mothers wounded by their fathers. Subsequently, such females for a period of time may only feel safe being comforted in love by another female.
Diane was a young architect whose father was an angry alcoholic. She had witnessed years of emotional and physical abuse toward her mother by him. In her early adolescence she was attracted to males and went out with them, but found herself much more comfortable with females during her college years. She came to realize that she had a very powerful fear of being hurt like her mother if she made a commitment to a man. Diane was not fully satisfied emotionally, physically or spiritually in her homosexual relationships. She recognized in therapy that her father controlled her relationships with men and decided to work to break his domination over her relationships.
Pete’s mother was a very sarcastic woman who was the daughter of an alcoholic father. He rarely saw his mother show any affection to his father and she was regularly critical of him. Pete came to understand that her compulsive need to be in control in the home stemmed from the fear and powerlessness she had experienced in her own family background as a result of her father’s drinking and the chaos that surrounded it. Pete found her control to be suffocating and, subsequently, did his best to keep her at a distance. Since she was his foundation for relationships with females, Pete did not feel comfortable being emotionally close to the girls he found attractive. He feared that if he became vulnerable they would be as insensitive as his mother was to his father and to him. His homosexual temptations developed because of his fear of trusting in female love and his need for affection from someone whom he could trust.
Mistrust can also develop as a result of living in a home with frequent conflict and fighting between parents. Since this relationship is the model or basis for the child’s view of a heterosexual loving relationship, a marriage marred by turmoil and pain can lead to a son’s or daughter’s developing a fear of becoming vulnerable to those of the opposite sex. This fear can lead some to retreat into homosexual relationships. A similar dynamic is sometimes present after divorce, when many adults have a fear of being hurt by those of the opposite sex and withdraw into a homosexual relationship. It should be noted, too, that the epidemic of divorce in our culture is resulting in a significant fear of commitment to heterosexual relationships among young adults.
Mistrust and fear of complete commitment to one person are extremely common in those with homosexual attractions. Rampant promiscuity with fidelity to no one is one of the most striking manifestations of such a fear of commitment. According to Dr. William Foege, director of the Centers for Disease Control, the average AIDS victim has had sixty sexual partners in the past twelve months. Spiritually, this mistrust shows itself in Catholics as a mistrust of the Lord and of God the Father as a loving father or Mary as a loving mother.
The sexually compulsive, highly reckless, and life-threatening behavior in a large percentage of homosexuals would indicate the presence of an addictive disorder in these individuals. While the specific diagnostic category of sexual addiction has not been officially accepted yet in the mental health field, clinical programs exist in various parts of the country for the treatment of sexual addictions and a journal of sexual addictions now exists. These addictions resemble substance abuse disorders in that individuals engage in compulsive behaviors that are medically hazardous. Also, powerful denial is present in regard to the serious danger to their health and the health of others from these sexually compulsive behaviors.
This clinical view of much homosexual behavior as being addictive in nature is supported by numerous studies of the sexual practices of homosexuals and by the recent best estimates that one half of all homosexual males in New York City are HIV positive. In spite of the danger of acquiring AIDS, enormous numbers of males do not protect themselves sexually. Reports of this highly dangerous behavior include a 1991 study of homosexuals in sixteen cities that revealed that 31 percent of the respondents had engaged in unprotected anal intercourse within the previous two months. The National Institute of Health estimated that at current rates of infection, a majority of twenty year old gay or bisexual men nationwide will eventually have the AIDS virus. A study of 425 homosexual or bisexual men ages seventeen to twenty-two in San Francisco and Berkeley revealed that about one third reported having unprotected anal intercourse within the past six months. A national survey of gay men showing that 41 percent performed anilingus (tongue on or in the anus), 47 percent received it in the past year and 46 percent of the men sometimes had sex that they considered riskier than they should be having. Also, Michael Warner’s January 31, 1995, article in the Village Voice, "Why Gay Men Are Having Risky Sex", describes similar compulsive, self-destructive and irresponsible homosexual acting-out behavior without protection. The addictive nature of much homosexual behavior explains why HIV infections have quadrupled in San Francisco since 1987.
These studies support the clinical view that homosexuality is a disorder with extremely compulsive, highly reckless, and self-destructive features. Many therapists view this addiction like others as being driven by numerous emotional conflicts. In many individuals their homosexual behavior is frequently preceded by the use of alcohol or drugs.
Father Mike became involved in compulsive and dangerous homosexual behavior following consumption of alcohol, usually in the evenings and on Sunday afternoons. Such activities were always followed by enormous guilt because Father Mike truly desired to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church. He saw the value of celibacy and wanted to live it. Fortunately, he was able to understand and work on alcohol and sexual addictions.
Narcissism or selfishness is another major factor influencing the attraction to the homosexual lifestyle. The appeal here is multifaceted and includes not having to make a total commitment to one person and not having to give oneself completely as a parent. There is a desire to remain childlike with minimal obligations in relationships and few limitations to the pursuit of pleasure. Hedonism is associated with many people involved in the homosexual behavior.
Another serious manifestation of narcissism in the homosexual lifestyle is grandiose thinking. Such thought processes lead to the belief that one is far superior to others and so special and exceptional that he is even immune to acquiring the AIDS virus. Grandiose delusions and extreme irresponsibility are important factors in the unsafe sexual practices of a large numbers of homosexuals today. Not only do they fail to protect themselves sexually on a regular basis, but they are so self-absorbed that they do not warn their partners of their HIV status.
Anthony was a young man who was extremely selfish and in this regard was very much like his mother. In his childhood he felt deprived emotionally and materially, because his mother spent most of the family’s modest income on herself. He recalled always feeling ashamed of his attire. In response to this deprivation he believed that life owed him a great deal. His world became totally centered on himself. Anthony believed in using people in his drive for constant pleasure and had no conscious moral conflicts about having sixty to hundred sexual partners per year.
Attempts to Flee from an Excessive Sense of Responsibility
Some people attempt to escape from excessive pressures and burdens by engaging in homosexual activities in which there is no commitment, obligation, or responsibility. Married men sometimes struggle with intense insecurity after experiencing the stress of a negative boss, a lack of success in work, or a sense of overwhelming anxiety from financial worries. Then they began to view their wives and children as burdens and difficulties rather than as gifts from God. They engage in homosexual behavior in an attempt to flee from their stress and to feel more lovable and special.
A lack of balance in life, along with perfectionistic thinking, regularly leads to a feeling of excessive responsibility. This conflict interferes with the ability to be quiet and to receive the gift of love that is available from family and friends and even more from the Lord, the Father, the Spirit and Mary.
Jim was a pleasant married father of two children. He enjoyed his work; however, it was extremely demanding and pressured. His wife, Jean, also had a busy, stressful career. In the evenings in addition to caring for their children, both of them spent time on their careers with the result that they had little time for each other. Under such stress, Jim began to visit adult book stores near his work and there engage in anonymous homosexual acts. These actions were followed by tormenting guilt because he felt that he had betrayed his wife and children as well as God.
When a husband is emotionally distant or absent from a family, the wife may feel an intense loneliness and, subsequently, become emotionally dependent upon a son. Often she will discuss with him concerns and worries that would normally be shared with her spouse. While most males in such a family home enjoy the relationship with their mothers when young, unconsciously they begin worrying excessively and feeling overly responsible for her. Later, an unconscious view of female love as burdensome and draining may develop.
Ralph was the oldest of three children and grew up in a home in which his father had great difficulty communicating his love. His father’s need to distance others was the result of the alcoholism of both of his parents. This man’s childhood wounds resulted in an inability to give himself because he did not feel safe and relaxed in loving relationships. Subsequently, Ralph’s mother was extremely unhappy in her marriage and divorced when Ralph was twelve. He recalled feeling that as a result of the divorce, he had become the little man of the home and was responsible for his mother and his younger brothers.
When Ralph was thirteen, he had a crush on a girl in his class. He was confused, however, because he had no desire to be physically affectionate with her, nor did he feel sexually aroused. He continued to be puzzled by his limited desires and although he did not want to be attracted to men, he experienced his first homosexual desires when fifteen. Ralph entered therapy in his mid-twenties. He had never engaged in homosexual behavior and hoped that he would be able to overcome his homosexual temptations and marry someday.
Early in his treatment Ralph realized that he had felt overly responsible for his mother’s happiness for many years and that this had taken a very high toll on him. The pressures had resulted in an unconscious fear of intimacy with females. Under the tension of these conflicts, homosexual relationships felt appealing because they appeared to be free of excessive responsibility and accountability. His growing insight into his fears of commitment to female love were liberating and filled him with hope for his future.
Sexual Trauma in Childhood
A number of males who were raped or sexually abused by older males in childhood develop confusion about their masculine identity. As with other victims of rape, they think that their behavior must have in some way led to the abuse. Such traumatic experiences can create self-hatred and the false belief that they must be homosexual. As adolescents, their relationship with girls is often undermined by their shame and the belief that no female could possibly love them if they knew of their sexual experiences.
The most significant type of anger influencing the development of homosexual attractions in childhood is anger with oneself. As a result of ongoing rejections by peers, many boys acquire an intense dislike for their bodies and view them as weak, unattractive, and unmasculine. They are so uncomfortable with their physiques that it is not unusual for them to spend a great deal of time fantasizing about escaping from their own bodies by assuming the body of another. This daydreaming can begin when they are very young and may lead to a strong physical attraction for those of the same sex.
The experience of being held by someone of the same sex may diminish self-rejection for a period of time. However, awkwardness with or dislike for one’s body perdures in spite of homosexual affirmation, affection, and sexual activity. This occurs because late adolescent or adult love and acceptance cannot undo the childhood and early adolescent self hatred. In many homosexuals, highly reckless, promiscuous, self destructive, addictive, and sadomasochistic behaviors arise from an intense dislike of themselves. Also, anger with oneself as a male can lead in cross dressing. Finally, the ultimate expression of self-hatred and aversion for one’s body is seen in those who undergo sex change surgery.
Paul was sensitive and painfully shy in regard to his small stature. Although he did not feel directly rejected by his peers, he felt weak and inadequate. Because he was not strong physically, he thought he could not compete in any sport. As his sense of isolation from his male peers grew, so too did his dislike for his body. He was very self-conscious about his appearance and, in fact, he was never comfortable removing his shirt in the locker room at school or at the pool in the summer.
Prior to adolescence, Paul began to be obsessed with the bodies of his peers who were well-built and muscular. His obsessional thinking was followed by strong feelings of attraction for these males and then by sexual desires. When he began engaging in homosexual activity in college, he regularly fantasized being absorbed into the body of his sexual partners and emerging with a different physique. His early sexual encounters gave him fleetingly a sense of being special and lovable. While his sexual behavior produced brief emotional highs, it did not lead to greater self-acceptance. In fact, as he slipped into sexual promiscuity, he became increasingly uncomfortable with himself and then entered therapy.
In a small group of people, their homosexuality originates from a strong need to rebel against parents, peers, the Judeo-Christian culture, the family unit, or God. As with many angry people, they derive a deep sense of pleasure from their rebellious behavior. This anger driven homosexual conduct is seen in those whose parents of the opposite sex were extremely controlling, emotionally insensitive, physically abusive, or profoundly narcissistic. Some males delight in their mothers’ knowledge that their lifestyle is the ultimate rejection of female love, whereas other females enjoy that their fathers are aware that they would appear to have no need for an ongoing loving relationship with a man.
Finally, excessive anger is seen in a number of other areas in the homosexual lifestyle. Most importantly, passive-aggressive anger, which is the quiet venting of hostility while pretending not to be angry, is manifested in the failure of HIV-positive individuals to inform their sexual partners of their illness. These men and women often feel that since they have to suffer, others should also. Intense anger is also seen in homosexuals within the media or in the educational, political, ministerial and mental health fields when they attempt to force our culture to change its views on homosexuality. Their approaches are often direct assaults against Judeo-Christian morality, the nuclear family, and the basic differences between men and women.
B. The Healing of Homosexual Attractions and Behaviors
The healing of those with homosexual attractions involves a process of understanding compassionately the emotional hurts they have experienced, resolving the anger with those who have inflicted pain through a process of forgiveness, utilizing cognitive and behavioral techniques, admitting powerlessness over their emotional suffering, and relying upon Catholic spirituality and the sacraments. While each of these steps is important, in my clinical experience over the past twenty years treating several hundred adolescents and adults, the cornerstone to recovery is the combination of forgiveness and spirituality. No amount of insight, adult love and affirmation, assertiveness, or behavioral and cognitive changes can resolve the profoundly deep emotional wounds present within these individuals. Only God’s love is powerful enough to overcome the painful loneliness and sadness, insecurities and fears by providing a feeling of being deeply loved, special, and safe at every life stage. As the emotional wounds are healed, homosexual attractions and behaviors diminish and eventually disappear.
In regard to the success of psychotherapy in treating homosexuality, in 1962 Bieber reported a cure rate from psychoanalysis of 27 percent. A recent survey of 285 psychoanalysts who had treated 1,215 homosexual patients revealed that 23 percent of their patients changed to heterosexuality. These traditional treatment approaches did not utilize either a process of forgiveness for resolving the inner resentment or Christian spirituality and meditation for the sadness, low self-esteem, and mistrust. In marked contrast, when forgiveness and Christian spirituality are essential parts of the treatment, it has been my clinical experience that the recovery rate from the emotional pain and subsequent homosexual behavior approaches 100% in those who are truly committed to the process.
Increasing numbers of males with homosexual attractions are entering therapy because of their fear of AIDS. Many of these people may resist initially working to recognize their emotional hurts because they fear facing their pain or because they have been influenced by our culture to believe that there are no psychological conflicts associated with homosexuality. However, most who seek counseling are searching for the truth and are open to explore their life disappointments. Their openness is enhanced by the therapist’s optimism and confidence in regard to the healing of the emotional wounds which produce their temptations and behavior.
Identifying and understanding the various types of emotional conflicts at different life stages are the first steps in the recovery process. These wounds are inflicted most often in childhood and early adolescence and arise from disappointments with parents, siblings, or peers. This pain is regularly denied and then emerges in masked ways as homosexual temptations early in adolescence. However, for some, the homosexual attractions may not come out until the twenties or thirties. In such cases some adult trauma has usually occurred that is associated unconsciously with unresolved childhood and adolescent conflicts.
The major difficulty identified in this understanding phase of treatment influencing homosexual attractions in over 70 percent of the males I have treated is that of a weak masculine identity. This insecurity is most often the result of repeated peer rejection and sometimes father rejection because of poor eye-hand coordination leading to limited athletic abilities in baseball, basketball, football, and gym activities.
The next most common hurt is that of an emotionally distant, insensitive, or unaffirming father. While there is usually little resistance in recognizing the sports wound, many males have great difficulty admitting how much they have wanted emotionally from their fathers and how deeply hurt they have felt when these needs were not met. This resistance can be overcome in part by the therapists sharing their own struggles in facing disappointments with their fathers.
These two areas of emotional trauma are not being identified in many males because of the failure of therapists to recognize the powerful influence of athletic abilities and experiences and of the father relationship on masculine identity. Neither of these important issues have been described extensively in the literature in the counseling fields for various reasons.
Mistrust of those of the opposite sex is the next most common cause of homosexual attraction. This is often the result of childhood and adolescent hurts with a parent who was overly controlling, too dependent, intensely selfish, emotionally distant or manipulative, absent, addicted, or otherwise dysfunctional. Also, an adult betrayal experience can result in severe fear of being hurt by those of the opposite sex.
In the understanding process in women the most common hurts that emerge predisposing them to homosexual attractions and behavior are a mistrust of male love because of trauma with their fathers or other males and a lack of love and affirmation from their mothers. In marked contrast to males, rejection by peers in childhood and adolescence is a rarely seen as a significant factor in the development of female homosexual attractions.
Narcissism and excessive anger play a significant role in driving compulsive homosexual behavior. Finally, childhood sexual trauma and an excessive sense of responsibility for others are the least frequently seen causes of homosexual behavior.
As the understanding process progresses, a number of emotional changes occur. Initially, many report a sense of relief, happiness, and gratefulness because for the first time they can identify a cause for their ego-dystonic temptations and acts. The emotional pain may intensify for a period of time as the person recalls and emotionally relives the hurts of the past. Often for the first time, the true depth of the emotional pain of sadness, insecurity, mistrust and anger is felt. Some patients may need the support of medication during this phase of healing. Most do not but do experience relief as they move on in the healing journey by working to forgive those who have hurt them and by being open to meditate upon the reality of God’s powerful love.
The resolution of excessive anger is essential in the healing of various emotional and addictive disorders  and in the healing of homosexual attractions. The painful disappointments in important relationships during childhood and adolescence result in very strong anger, as well as sadness, mistrust, and low self-esteem. It is not possible to resolve the loneliness, fear, compulsive behavior, and insecurity without removing the closely associated resentment. The childhood rejections by peers and fathers lead first to sadness and next to anger. The emotion of anger then encapsulates experiences of sadness at different life stages. In order to dislodge the sadness, the capsule of anger must be removed. This can only be done through a process of forgiveness, because the sole reliance upon the expression of anger does not truly free individuals from their inner resentment and bitterness.
Unfortunately, the young mental health field has relied almost exclusively upon the expression of anger as the primary mechanism for dealing with this powerful emotion. While expression is important at times, when solely relied on for relief from anger, it has limited value because mere words or behaviors cannot make up for the depth of resentment and bitterness that has been denied in significant relationships in childhood and adolescence. Those who pursued therapy for their homosexual impulses in the past were rarely challenged to resolve their hostile feelings toward their parents and peers, nor were they counseled to use forgiveness. The failure to address and to recommend an effective treatment approach for buried anger is one reason why therapy did not produce more significant clinical improvement in these individuals, with the other being the lack of understanding of the value of spirituality in the recovery process.
After analyzing the specific childhood, teenage and adult disappointments and betrayals, a forgiveness exercise is recommended in relationships where indicated. Patients are informed at the onset and regularly during treatment that without the resolution of the anger associated with hurts of the past it is unlikely that their homosexual temptations or behavior will end. Then they are given the option of trying to forgive on one of three levels. These are cognitively, in which the decision is made to forgive even if the individual may not feel like forgiving; emotionally, in which there is understanding of those who inflicted the hurt with the result that the person truly feels like forgiving; and spiritually, in which the person has been wounded so deeply that he cannot forgive and asks God to forgive or to remove his anger.
At the beginning of the forgiveness process the person tries to picture himself during a painful event of the past making a decision to let go of the anger toward whoever inflicted the pain. At the same time he endeavors to begin to understand the motives of the individual who hurt him. This process usually begins as a cognitive or intellectual exercise in which a person makes the decision to forgive in order to overcome his pain, even though emotionally he may not feel like forgiving at all. Frequently a considerable amount of time and energy is spent on this level of forgiveness before he truly feels like forgiving.
Often the forgiveness exercise is recommended in relationships in which the person has either limited or no conscious awareness of the presence of anger. If indicated by the history, the individual may be asked to try to forgive family members or peers daily for ways in which they may not have met certain needs such as being accepted, loved, praised, or held at different life stages. This process often brings immediate emotional relief ;however, some individuals discover that they may have to spend weeks, months, or even years thinking of themselves as a children or adolescents forgiving others for specific disappointments.
In a number of severe emotionally traumatic events from childhood and adolescence, the betrayal pain is so profound that forgiveness on a natural level is impossible. In such cases spiritual forgiveness exercises are recommended. Here the individual reflects that revenge belongs to God, or God forgive them they didn’t know what they were doing, or someday God will punish them, or I’m powerless over my anger and want to turn it over to God. These spiritual forgiveness responses are particularly effective with those who were severely scapegoated by peers; profoundly betrayed by a parent, sibling, or spouse; or sexually abused. Also, many people find themselves at times simply unable to forgive, for example, a controlling or angry parent, and discover relief in being able to give their anger to God.
The regular use of the sacrament of reconciliation for Catholics has enormous benefit for those who discover intense inner rage and violent impulses of revenge or who need more grace to facilitate the resolution of their anger. I regularly recommend the use of this sacrament in the healing of the anger associated with this disorder, particularly that meant for parents, peers or self.
Employing forgiveness exercises in those with homosexual attractions frees them from the subtle control of individuals of the past, helps them forget the painful past experiences, expedites the resolution of sadness and loneliness, improves self-esteem as anger decreases, diminishes guilt, leads to a decrease in anxiety as anger is removed, enhances the ability to trust, results in more compassion toward those who inflicted hurts and produces a greater acceptance of the past. As the understanding grows of those who caused pain, there is a growing awareness that the behavior of many individuals can be attributed to their emotional scars, that significant others have loved as much as they were capable of loving, and that rarely was the pain deliberately inflicted.
The most frequently seen and strongest resentment is in those who were victims of scapegoating, rejection, and ridicule by peers, usually because they were not athletically coordinated. The victims of such ridicule often respond by developing both intense self anger and violent fantasies of revenge, including in some murderous impulses. I have never treated anyone who acted out these furious daydreams; however, in the present culture of violence the inhibitions to the release of these hostile impulses have decreased, and teenagers are now bringing guns to school and shooting those who torment them.
For those with violent impulses as a result of being scapegoated, resolving their deep resentment can be facilitated by a process that begins with the physical expression of anger in a manner in which others will not be hurt, for example, using a punching bag, breaking nonvaluable objects, or doing strenuous exercises. This is followed immediately by cognitive or spiritual forgiveness exercises aimed at relinquishing their desires for revenge. Also, relief from violent impulses is felt when patients imagine expressing these impulses and then try to think that revenge belongs to God. Finally, the sacrament of reconciliation is extremely helpful in the healing of this specific betrayal resentment.
Many men who felt emotionally abandoned by their fathers and unconsciously sought to fill the emptiness for father love in homosexual behavior have great difficulty initially forgiving their fathers. When they come to understand their fathers’ childhood and realize that his role model often was also emotionally distant, they grow in their ability to experience compassion for their fathers. They may come to see that he loved as much as he was able to love, and then they begin to feel truly like forgiving him. However, those who were physically abandoned by their fathers usually only experience relief from their rage through the use of spiritual forgiveness exercises.
The process of father forgiveness in both males and females is facilitated as these individuals grow spiritually in developing their relationship with God the Father as their other loving and caring father at every life stage. His love diminishes their feelings of being cheated and makes it much easier to let go of resentment with their fathers.
Some individuals who are aware that forgiving will lead them into the painful truth of disappointment in relationships will not forgive until they can be reassured that there will be some love for them to hold onto that will comfort them and ease the pain that may arise with forgiveness. This fear of the forgiveness process is one of the reasons that I communicate early in treatment that an awareness of the truth and reality of the love of the Father as another father, Jesus as a best friend and brother and Mary as another loving mother is essential to the healing of childhood, adolescent, and adult wounds.
The major aspects of Catholic spirituality which play an essential role in the healing of the emotional wounds leading to homosexual attractions and behavior are prayers of petition, meditation, the scriptures, the Rosary, holy hours, the Eucharist, the sacrament of reconciliation, and spiritual direction. Once the basic conflict has been identified and understood, most individuals regularly employ each of these aspects of spirituality in their recovery. However, some find one particular method of prayer particularly helpful. For example, those who were rejected repeatedly by their peers often discover that spending time daily meditating upon and visualizing Jesus being at their side through childhood and adolescence as their best friend, when they felt very lonely and isolated, to be particularly comforting and strengthening.
The Sports Wound
In the initial stages of treatment people with this painful hurt regularly find so much inner rage toward those who rejected them that they are unable to forgive. This resentment, while primarily meant for peers, is also often with God for failing to give them athletic abilities. In attempting to resolve this anger, Lou, who was the victim of sibling and peer ridicule because of his lack of coordination in sports and who held back pursuing priesthood because of his homosexual attractions, expressed to God his profound disappointment with him for withholding those gifts. He verbalized to God a strong sense that he had abandoned him to the terrible suffering of peer ridicule, loneliness, and profound masculine insecurity simply because he was not given athletic abilities. Lou first needed to let go of his anger with God before he could release his rage of his peers.
He accomplished this by taking his resentment to the sacrament of reconciliation on a regular basis for his anger with his peers and with God. After his trust in God increased he was able to give up the multiple levels of peer resentment by reflecting that revenge belongs to God and by thinking that he was powerless over his anger and wanted to turn it over to God. These spiritual interventions into his childhood and adolescent rage brought him significant emotional relief and slowly broke the control which those who had hurt him had over his self-esteem. As his anger decreased, his insight and understanding grew concerning those who had made him feel inadequate. Lou came to see that the peers who had tormented him were jealous of his superior intelligence, were themselves very insecure and came from troubled families. This understanding later enabled him to feel compassion for his childhood tormentors, enabling him later to want to try to forgive them.
Making inroads into Lou’s deep resentment was an essential part of the initial stages of his recovery. Then he needed healing of the wound of peer rejection, loneliness, and masculine insecurity. Traditional therapy cannot resolve these emotional wounds. Fortunately, Catholic spirituality can through a process of growing in an awareness of the reality of the accepting and loving presence of the Lord with the individual during the painful, times of isolation in childhood, adolescence, and adult life. This knowledge of Jesus with one as a loving best friend begins by meditation. The individual tries to picture the Lord with him on the sports fields, in the gym and in the neighborhood accepting and affirming him. This meditation is often combined with reflecting upon the Lord communicating scriptural passages to the person such as John 15:9, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you". At times Lou would visualize the Lord being between himself and those who were ridiculing him, telling him that he loved him very much and that he never betrayed him.
Lou also became more aware of the Lord’s unique love and friendship by making regular holy hours. During those times he gave to the Lord his masculine insecurity and loneliness and tried to be open to receive his love. As he became more aware of the Lord being with him as a young adult, his trust in Jesus grew, enabling him to become more open to his loving presence earlier in his life. Also, his trust in the Lord’s love increased by going to the Eucharist more often and there specifically asking for healing of his homosexual attractions and the emotional pain causing them. Finally, a spiritual director helped him in numerous ways, especially in hearing the Lord speak to him through the scriptures.
Slowly, Lou grew in an awareness of the Lord being with him when he was a very insecure and lonely boy and teenager. The flow of the Lord’s love into him strengthened his masculine identity by making him feel special even though he didn’t have athletic gifts, healed his profound sadness and filled the emptiness of the past. As this occurred, Lou’s homosexual temptations gradually diminished. He no longer needed to engage in sex with other men to feel accepted and complete as a young man. Before his childhood and adolescent wounds were completely healed he would experience periodic temptations. His response to them would be ask the Lord to heal the loneliness of his past, to protect him from loneliness and to strengthen his confidence in the special male gifts which he had been given by God. He also found prayer to Mary to be helpful when tempted during the earlier phase of his healing and became devoted to saying the Rosary daily for his healing. Lou’s healing took several years. Then he was able to pursue training for the priesthood.
Over the past twenty years I have seen large numbers of single and married men, seminarians, religious, and priests who were severely rejected in childhood and adolescence set free from their pain and homosexual behavior through the use of forgiveness and Catholic spirituality. The Eucharist, the sacrament of reconciliation, meditation, spiritual direction, the Scriptures, holy hours and the Rosary have made these healings possible. In their journey toward wholeness most individuals regularly encounter times of strong discouragement, slips, intense anger, and even hopelessness. However, with perseverance and grace the emotional wounds and the homosexual attractions and behaviors are resolved.
The Father Wound: Sadness, Insecurity, and Fear
Loneliness and a lack of affirmation in the father relationship are the second most common causes of homosexuality. In order to be psychologically healthy children need to experience the flow of love and praise from their fathers. When this does not take place, they develop an inner sadness and insecurity. The latter occurs because children idealize fathers and tend to believe that something must be wrong with them if their basic emotional needs are not being met. The wound of insecurity is particularly painful in males because they are not being validated by their role model. This father wound is very prevalent, particularly today with the collapse of the nuclear family.
The majority of males with distant fathers do not struggle with homosexuality because their masculine identity has been validated through acceptance by male peers and in athletic competition. However, some males will have strong homosexual attractions to men in an unconscious attempt to fill the emptiness created by an angry, absent, or negative father.
In exploring disappointments in the father relationship one often encounters very powerful defense mechanisms, particularly in males. An effective way to deal with this resistance is for counselors to share ways in which they have worked at forgiving their fathers for disappointments in their past. The process of forgiving the father is extremely difficult for many people, so difficult that they feel that there is no possible way in which they can do it. In such cases spiritual forgiveness is very effective for the resentment. Here, too, it is essential that in healing the father wound that the anger be removed in order for the underlying sadness to be resolved.
Many men will engage in extremely promiscuous homosexual behavior in a frustrating unconscious attempt to fill the childhood and adolescent craving for father love. In an effort to help these men, some therapists suggest that the adult try to heal the wounded child within by loving him or her more. This approach does not bring lasting emotional relief because the child within craves a father’s love, not self-love, and because the adult was not present at the time the child yearned to be accepted and loved by his father. Only a knowledge of God the Father’s presence during childhood and adolescence can fill the emptiness and heal this wound.
The initial spiritual approach is to suggest that the person begin working on his relationship with God the Father. Since grace builds on nature, most of those with distant or troubled fathers have great difficulty trusting God the Father. They did not feel safe with their own fathers and, subsequently, struggle to be open to God the Father. Because fear is rooted in unconscious anger, as they work at forgiving their fathers, their mistrust will diminish.
Growth in trust in God the Father is facilitated by praying to Jesus asking specifically for this gift. Some implore Jesus to help them to trust in Abba’s love just as he did. Once the trust begins to increase, the person is asked to try to meditate for two 15 minute periods daily upon God the Father as their other loving father at each life stage. Some are helped by imagining the Lord taking them by the hand as children and teenagers and leading them into a greater closeness to the Father. Others ask the Lord simply to help them to come to a greater knowledge of the Father. Reflecting through the day that "God is my father" is strengthening for many. Reading the scriptures, slowly praying the Our Father, and seeking healing at the Eucharist enable growth in the knowledge of the Father’s love. What is essential here is an awareness of the Father’s love with them as children and as teenagers.
The experience of Abba’s love flowing into them dispels the loneliness, insecurity and mistrust that they have acquired from their fathers. Slowly, the homosexual temptations diminish and ultimately leave as the father wound is healed in this manner. These individuals become strengthened by God the Father’s love and when tempted to act out homosexually they don’t give in immediately as they did in the past. Instead they ask they Lord to show them the emotional stress causing the temptation and then to heal it. They are regularly pleasantly surprised by the Lord’s faithful response to such prayer. These tests increase their confidence in God’s power to assist in the complete healing of their homosexuality.
Females, who withdraw into homosexuality because of a fear of male love arising from childhood and adolescent trauma with their fathers, grow, as their sense of the Father’s love for them increases, to be open to trust male love. When they can be comfortable entrusting themselves into the providential care of God the Father, they regularly find themselves more willing to try to become vulnerable to males. This stage is followed regularly by feelings of attraction and then love.
Diane’s homosexual feelings were the direct result of a family life with an explosive alcoholic father. For years she was involved emotionally and sexually with women, yet felt very unfulfilled. Early in her recovery Diane had great difficulty in forgiving her father for all the ways in which he had hurt her mother and had created chaos in their family life. Realizing that she could not forgive him, she became comfortable reflecting upon the words of Christ on the cross applied to her father, "Father forgive them they know not what they do". As her anger decreased she came to know Abba more as her other loving and protective Father. This love warmed and comforted her and diminished her father’s control over her relationships. She grew to feel safer and more attracted to men and believed that the Father would protect her as her own father had not.
In response to his love, a strong desire developed to serve him and to do his will in relationships. Also, a growing knowledge of her faith led to a deeper understanding of the sinful nature of homosexuality  and the desire to avoid such sin. His providential care became a strong foundation on which Diane believed that she could base a loving relationship with a man.
The Mother Wound: Sadness, Mistrust, and Insecurity
The childhood and adolescent wounds with mothers who were unaffectionate, distant, angry, insensitive, selfish, controlling, overly dependent, emotionally ill, or addicted regularly lead to homosexual temptations and behavior in some individuals. After recognizing these wounds and beginning the process of forgiveness, the next step in the healing journey is that of asking the person to consider the spiritual reality of Mary as another loving, giving, joyful, and trustworthy mother and friend at every life stage. The experience of Mary’s love can fill the emptiness and loneliness in the mother relationship, become a new foundation to trust females, strengthen confidence, and resolve homosexual attractions and behaviors.
Sue had great difficulty thinking about trusting Mary initially as another loving mother because her own mother was so insensitive to her. Even though understanding the little girl within her mother who had not been properly mothered and forgiving her was emotionally liberating, she continued to be fearful of Mary’s love. Sue felt discouraged because she knew that only another mother’s love could heal the childhood sadness and longing for a mother’s love that fueled her homosexual temptations. Fortunately, when she daily asked the Lord to help her to rely on the love of his mother as he did, her ability to trust in Mary slowly increased. Sue was helped by meditating in front of a picture of Mary holding the Christ child and by praying the Rosary. When tempted, she would meditate upon Mary as the loving and joyful female in her life and not anyone else.
Pete had difficulty in trusting Mary initially because he feared that she would be as demanding and controlling as his own mother had been. He retreated into homosexuality because of his fear of becoming vulnerable to and being dominated by a female. Pete made great strides in his recovery by trying to picture Mary as a very gentle, safe, and trusting mother who did not want to dominate his life and by reflecting that she had never betrayed him. As his trust in her love grew through prayer, spiritual direction, and the Rosary, his fears of female love decreased. Mary became for him a loving companion who helped him open his heart to women.
Ralph’s mother’s excessive dependency on him, because of an absent father, produced an unconscious negative association to female love. While attracted to females and hoping someday to marry, he viewed closeness to females as being draining and burdensome. Ralph meditated first on picturing the Lord being between his mother and himself lifting from him the heavy burdens he had felt for her happiness and being more responsible for her. At Mass he would place his mother on the altar and reflect that Jesus was her Savior, not him. Slowly the Lord set him free from his excessive sense of responsibility for her. After being unburdened, he was greatly comforted by meditating upon Mary as a joyful, giving mother at his side in the past. With this healing came a new openness to dating relationships and a strong desire to marry.
The Anger Wound
Paul remembered hating his body which, since the third grade, he viewed as small and weak. He was ashamed of his lack of muscle and his short stature. His overwhelming need for acceptance led him into an extremely promiscuous homosexual lifestyle.
Paul began to experience remorse after realizing that he had not accepted the body that God had given to him. He asked the Lord to forgive him and to help him to embrace his body. His healing progressed by his being thankful for his body, by rejecting the desire to be other than who he was, by viewing his soul as much more important than his body, and by being thankful for his special male gifts. When meditating upon Jesus with him loving him just as he was at every life stage, Paul sensed the Lord telling him what masculinity truly is in the eyes of God. This experience of the Lord’s affirming love for him when he was a boy and a teenager freed him from his self-hatred and deep sense of male inadequacy. Finally, the graces from the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation were of enormous benefit in his growth in accepting himself.
Alcohol, drug and sexual addictions often are seen in those with promiscuous homosexuality. Father Mike’s homosexual behavior was always preceded by excessive drinking as a result of his struggles with loneliness. He overcame his sexual acting-out behavior completely by regular attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings; by cessation of drinking; and by the use of meditation, spiritual direction, and sacraments for his loneliness. 
In those who are truly sexually addicted the initial steps in treatment are to help these individuals to accept their addiction, to embrace their powerlessness, to believe that they cannot recover without God’s assistance and love, and to attend a Twelve Step sexual addiction group, such as Sexaholics Anonymous. Also, weekly participation in Christian homosexual recovery groups, such as Courage, Homosexuals Anonymous, and Harvest, can be very helpful. Those who are too embarrassed to attend such groups may be given the names of individuals who are more advanced in their recovery and who act as sponsors for them. Then, when they struggle with strong temptations, they can turn to these sponsors for needed support, prayer, and encouragement. While Twelve Step sexual addiction groups are helpful, it has been my clinical experience that the addictive behavior is not brought under control until the underlying emotional wounds are healed.
Narcissism is a very powerful disorder that fuels the homosexual behavior in many people. This personality weakness is not easily overcome because of the reluctance to give up a life of unchecked, irresponsible self indulgence. This clinical disorder is the major reason for failure in recovery from homosexuality. Many people begin their healing journey only to be pulled down into a superficial life of hedonistic pleasure seeking.
If those with this disorder are to recover, they need to commit themselves to a highly disciplined spiritual life. Such a program would include weekly confession, growth in the virtues of self-denial and humility, regular meditation upon the Lord's Passion, spiritual direction, regular retreats, a close relationship with Mary, the ending of unhealthy friendships, daily reading of the Scriptures and daily attendance at Mass.
The Excessive Sense of Responsibility
Jim’s anonymous homosexual behavior developed as an attempt to escape from the excessive pressures and demands in his professional and personal life. As he daily sought God’s will for his life, he was able to see a clear path out of the darkness. With the help of God’s grace he placed the Lord first in his life, not work, gave his responsibilities back to the Lord daily, asked to be healed of his tendency to feel overly responsible, read Scriptures each evening and, most importantly, worked to strengthen his loving friendship with his wife. Taking these steps removed the exhaustion and inner emptiness and enabled Jim and his wife truly to enjoy their married life together.
Childhood Sexual Trauma
Those males whose sexual identity is confused as result of childhood rapes and other sexual abuse regularly harbor unconscious violent impulses against their abusers. These vengeful thoughts can be removed by surrendering them daily to God and reflecting that revenge belongs to God. Next the specific recollections of abuse also can be very tormenting and confusing. These recurrent memories can be overcome by giving them to the Lord daily and by asking him to heal these memories.
The identity confusion diminishes as the severe emotional pain surrounding the traumatic memory decreases. Also, the masculine identity is strengthened by being thankful for one’s male gifts, by growing in a sense of divine filiation, by identifying with the positive qualities in one’s father and other male relatives, and by asking for healing at the Eucharist.
An urgent need exists to examine the truth in regard to homosexuality, both morally and psychologically. Recently, Pope John Paul II stated, "We need now more than ever to have the courage to look truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception".  As the teacher of truth, the Church affirms in the Catechism that "homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity, are intrinsically disordered, and under no circumstances can be approved". 
Psychologically, homosexual attractions and acts arise from a number of very specific emotional hurts and conflicts in childhood, adolescence, and adult life. These wounds were not clearly and fully identified in the past by mental health professionals, nor were they healed in the majority of cases. The reasons for this are because the mental health field in its early stage of development has failed to understand and incorporate forgiveness to remove the significant betrayal anger in these individuals and has not provided Christian spirituality to resolve their sadness, mistrust, low self-esteem, and addictive behavior. Fortunately, Catholic spirituality, combined with good psychotherapy, can result in a complete healing of those with this disorder.