by STEVE WEATHERBE
Father John Harvey, a member of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, died Dec. 27 at age 92 at Union Hospital in Elkton, Md. Father Harvey founded Courage, a support program for those with homosexual inclinations live chaste lives.
ELKTON, Md. — A priest who exemplified the Church’s task of bringing both truth and love to those with same-sex attraction, Father John Harvey, has died at the age of 92.
Father Harvey died Dec. 27, the feast of St. John the Evangelist, at Union Hospital in Elkton, Md. A Philadelphia native, he was an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales for 73 years and a priest for 66.
Father Harvey in 1980 founded Courage, a ministry of the Archdiocese of New York that grew into an apostolate with support groups in 13 countries. He stepped down as executive director just two years ago.
Father Harvey, a moral theologian by training, became controversial in spite of himself by urging those with homosexual inclinations to live a life of chastity at a time when many in the Church wanted it to accept homosexuality, formally or informally.
“He was an extraordinary man and a gift from God to the Church at a time of great confusion over morality, especially sexual morality,” said his longtime friend and co-worker Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons. “He was a light in the darkness.”
Father Harvey had already been teaching moral theology for 30 years and providing spiritual guidance to seminarians and priests struggling with homosexual desires when, in 1980, Father Benedict Groeschel recommended him to New York Cardinal Terence Cooke to start a new ministry for homosexuals.
“He hadn’t gone looking for this,” reports Angelo, a 15-year member of Courage and a Courage staff member who asked that his last name not be used. “But he knew it was God calling him.”
Father Harvey started a support group in Manhattan with five members, and with them quickly hammered out goals: They sought to live lives that were chaste and Christ-like, in supportive and exemplary fellowship for others with same-sex attraction.