6. A major study published in the journal “Cancer” in May 2011 revealed that men with SSA in California are twice as likely to report a cancer as heterosexual men. Most troubling is the mean age of onset of cancer in the men with SSA – age 41, compared to age 51 in heterosexual males. (Boehmer, U. et al. 2011, “Cancer Survivorship and Sexual Orientation,” Cancer, 117:3796–3804.)
7. A November 12, 2014 article in the “Wall St. Journal” on HPV-related throat cancers stated that it increased by 72 percent between 2000 and 2004. Most of that growth has been in men and the number of sexual partners was suggested as a contributing factor. A researcher stated that, “the problem with HPV-positive oral cancer is that premalignant lesions are not clinically detectable. They’re deep within the tonsils that are in the base of the tongue. By the time HPV-infection is detected, they usually already have Stage 3 or 4 cancer.”
8. Finneran and Stephenson (2012) conducted a systematic review of 28 studies examining interpersonal violence among men who have sex with men. The authors concluded that, “The emergent evidence reviewed here demonstrates that IPV – psychological, physical, and sexual – occurs in male-male partnerships at alarming rates” (p. 180). (Finneran, C., Stephenson, R. 2012. “Intimate Partner Violence Among Men Who Have Sex With Men: A Systematic Review,” Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 14: 168-185.)
9. A 2007 study published by the New York Academy of Medicine found that over 32 percent of active homosexuals report that they have suffered “abuse” by one or more “partners” during the course of their lives. Fifty-four percent (n = 144) of men reporting any history of abuse reported more than one form. Depression and substance abuse were among the strongest correlates of intimate partner abuse. (Houston, E. & McKiman, D.J. 2007, “Intimate Partner Abuse Among Gay and Bisexual Men: Risk Correlates and Health Outcomes,” Journal of Urban Health 84: 681-690.)
10. A 2014 systematic review of 19 studies examining associations between intimate partner violence (IPV) and men with SSA. The pooled lifetime prevalence rate of any form of IPV was 48 percent. (Buller, A. et al. 2014. “Associations between Intimate Partner Violence and Health among Men Who Have Sex with Men: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” PLOS Medicine, 11(3): e1001609. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001609.)
11. Research on men with SSA in Amsterdam found that 86 percent of new HIV infections occur within steady partnerships. The researchers concluded, “Prevention measures should address risky behavior, especially with steady partners, and the promotion of HIV testing.” (Xiridou, M. et al., 2003. “The contribution of steady and casual partnerships to the incidence of HIV infection among homosexual men in Amsterdam,” AIDS 17:1029-38.)
12. Research on persons who had sought help from Courage revealed that those with SSA had more mental health distress than a heterosexually-oriented, normative sample. SSA respondents who had become more chaste had an improvement in their overall mental health. Measures of authentic spirituality were also positively correlated to increased mental health. Positive correlations were also found between chastity, religious participation and self-reported measures of happiness. (Harris, S. 2009. “Mental health, chastity and religious participation in a population of same-sex attracted men.” Doctoral dissertation.)
The recommendation of an international expansion of this effective apostolate should be considered by the Synod as a primary pastoral outreach to those with homosexual tendencies and their families. As St. John Paul II said of this apostolate, "COURAGE is doing the work of God!"
Rick Fitzgibbons, MD is the director of the Institute for Marital Healing outside Philadelphia and has worked with several thousand couples over the past 38 years. Trained in psychiatry at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center, he participated in cognitive therapy research with Aaron T. Beck. In 1986 he wrote a seminal paper on the psychotherapeutic uses of forgiveness in the treatment of excessive anger and in 2000 coauthored Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hopewith Dr. Robert D. Enright, University of Wisconsin, Madison, for American Psychological Association Books. The second edition of this book is in press. He has been an adjunct professor at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for the Studies of Marriage and Family (The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC) and a consultor to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy.