John F. Harvey

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John Francis Harvey, O.S.F.S. (1918-2010) was a priest of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, a moral theologian of the Catholic Church, and the founder of the DeSales School of Theology in Washington, D.C. According to Eamonn Kane, he was one of the foremost experts in the world on the complex moral and pastoral questions associated with same-sex attraction, inclination and activity.[1] He founded Courage Apostolate, a Catholic organization that advises Catholics with same-sex attraction to lead chaste lives.[2][3]

Early life and ordination

John Francis Harvey was born on April 14, 1918 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest of four children of Patrick J. and Margaret (née Harkins) Harvey. Patrick Harvey, a devout Catholic, was a native of Ireland. Margaret died when John Francis was an infant.[4]

John Francis attended St. Columba Parish School, and after graduating from Northeast Catholic High School for Boys in 1936, he entered the Oblate Novitiate in Childs, MD, making his first profession of vows on September 8, 1937, and his perpetual vows on September 8, 1940.[5] After earning his bachelor of arts degree in philosophy in 1941 from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he continued his studies at that institution, earning a master’s in psychology and philosophy, a licentiate in theology and, ten years later, a doctorate in moral theology.[6] He was ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 1944, at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia by Hugh L. Lamb, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia.

Throughout his life, Fr. Harvey was an ardent fan of the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies.[7]

Priestly ministries


Fr. Harvey's ministerial assignments following ordination included serving as:

For twenty years while teaching at DeSales, Fr. Harvey lived at the Wills Hall student residence.[10] Additionally, he took on teaching duties at the Oblate House of Studies at The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. until it was closed in 1997 due to a dearth of priestly candidates.[7]

Courage Apostolate

Fr. Harvey is best known for urging Catholics with same sex attraction to lead chaste lives. In November 1978, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R, recommended him to Terence Cardinal Cooke, Archbishop of New York, to start a new ministry for this purpose.[11] Harvey started Courage Apostolate, a support group with five members. It had its first meeting on September 26, 1980, at the Church of St. Joseph in New York.[12]

Fr. Harvey retired as Executive Director of Courage in 2008.[13]


In 1987, Fr. Harvey published his best-known book, The Homosexual Person: New Thinking in Pastoral Care. In it, he critiqued the views of revisionist theologians who argue that the Church’s longstanding prohibition of same-sex acts is wrong. Among others, he also wrote two other books, The Truth about Homosexuality, and Homosexuality and the Catholic Church. Paul D. Scalia writes that no collection of works "provide an authentically Catholic examination of the issue with such depth and breadth. He not only presents the Church’s teaching clearly, but also examines the opposition with notable accuracy and fairness. And yet, for all that, his tone always remains placid and serene, presenting challenging truths and engaging the opposition without rancor or bitterness." [14]

In his writings, Fr. Harvey defends the traditional Catholic position, while strongly contending that gay Catholics deserve of compassionate pastoral care.[15]

Retirement and death

Fr. Harvey retired to Annecy Hall, a retirement community for the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Childs, MD, in January 2010. He died on December 27, 2010, the feast of St. John the Evangelist, at Union Hospital in Elkton, MD, and was survived by his sister, Margaret Smith, and many nieces, nephews and grand-nieces and grand-nephews. He was predeceased by his siblings, Catherine Egan and James Harvey. The Mass for Christian Burial for Fr. Harvey was celebrated on Friday, December 31, 2010, at Our Lady of Light Chapel, 1120 Blue Ball Road, Elkton, MD.[16] He is buried at the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales Cemetery, in Childs, Cecil County. MD.[17]


For achieving the proper balance between orthodoxy (correct belief) and orthopraxy (correct conduct, both ethical and liturgical) in his apostolate, Fr. Harvey’s ministry to those with same-sex attraction won the endorsement of the Pontifical Council for the Family.[18] Pope John Paul II said of this ministry, "Courage is doing the work of God!"[19] In 2011, at the 31st Annual Courage Conference, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, then the Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, gave a loving tribute and praised profusely the pioneering work of Fr. Harvey.[20]


  • Fr. Harvey, along with Fr. Gerard Sloyan, and Sr. Rose Eileen Masterman, founded the Society of Catholic College Teachers of Sacred Doctrine in 1953. In 1967, the organization's name was changed to College Theology Society of America.[21] Harvey was a Board member (1954-1956) and Vice President (1956-1958) of the Society.[22] He retained his membership well into the 1980s.[23]
  • Fr. Harvey was a member of the Board of Advisors of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists;[24] of the Mariological Society of America, where he was listed as "active" in 1980;[25] and of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.


The Rev. John Francis Harvey received numerous honors and awards. The notables ones are mentioned below.


  • The Linacre Quarterly Award for Distinguished Writing presented by the Catholic Medical Association in 1983 in recognition of his numerous contributions between 1969 and 1984.[26]
  • The John Cardinal Wright Award in September 1988, in a ceremony in Boston, MA. The prize is given to a Catholic judged to have done an outstanding service for the Catholic Church, in memory of the late John Cardinal Wright, who was prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy from 1969 until his death in 1979. In its citation, the Mariological Society of America noted Harvey's decades' long pastoral service to the Catholic homosexual community and his prodigious scholarly output on the subject.[27]
  • In 1998, the Franciscan University of Steubenville awarded Fr. Harvey the Courage in Faith Award.[28]
  • The Cardinal Cooke Medal of Peace on October 6, 2003, from Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, 7th Archbishop for the Military Services, during a special mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. The prize, established in 1988, recognizes people who exemplify the life of Christ in this world. In its citation, the Cardinal Cooke Guild recognized Fr. Harvey's work with Courage, emphasizing that it is in accord with Catholic teaching.[29]
  • The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars gave Fr. Harvey its Founder's Award in 2010, shortly before his death, in recognition for his magnificent contributions to the Fellowship.[7]

Honorary degrees

Fr. Harvey received the Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary) from Assumption College in 1986, and from Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales (now DeSales University) in 1988.

Other recognition

  • A chair in moral theology at DeSales University is named after Fr. Harvey. It was established by the Board of Trustees of the university, and endowed by donations from the numerous friends and supporters of Fr. Harvey. The first and current holder is Dr. Brian Kane, Professor of Theology and Head of the Division of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.[30]
  • A residential building for juniors and seniors at DeSales University that is slated for completion in 2015 will be named for Fr. Harvey.[31]

Selected works


  • Moral Theology of The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Doctoral Dissertation, Washington D.C.: Catholic Univ. of America Press, 1951. ISBN 978-1258129682; reprinted in 2009 as ISBN 978-1606084236
  • Pastoral Care and the Homosexual, New Haven, CT: Catholic Information Service, Knights of Columbus, 1977. ASIN B000727LYO
  • Counselling the Homosexual, with Fr. John R. Cavannagh, (eds.), Huntington, IN., Our Sunday Visitor, 1977. ISBN 978-0879737610
  • On Understanding Human Sexuality, with William E. May, Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Press, 1978. ISBN 978-0819907202
  • A Spiritual Plan to Redirect One's Life: For Today's Homosexual, Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media, 1979. ISBN 978-0819869326
  • As editor, The Homosexual Person: New Thinking in Pastoral Care, San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1987. ISBN 978-0898701692
  • Homosexuality: The Questions; Scriptural, Church & Psychiatric Answers, with Joseph A. DiIenno, Herbert F. Smith, Boston, MA: Daughters of St. Paul, an imprint of Pauline Books and Media, 1989. ISBN 978-0819833327
  • The Truth about Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful, San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0898705836. Translated into Polish as Prawda o homoseksualizmie. Wołanie wiernych, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Księży Marianów, 1998. ISBN 83-7119-140-5.
  • With Mind and Heart Renewed: Essays in Honor of Rev. John F. Harvey, O.S.F.S. on the Occasion of His 80th Birthday and the 55th Anniversary of His Ordination to the Priesthood, Thomas F. Dailey, (ed.), Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America, 2001. ISBN 978-0761820000
  • As editor with Gerard V. Bradley, Same Sex Attraction: A Parents' Guide, South Bend, IN: St. Augustine Press, 2003. ISBN 978-1587317514
  • Homosexuality & the Catholic Church: Clear Answers to Difficult Questions, West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1932927627
  • Same Sex Attraction: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice, Fr. Gabriel B. O'Donnell, O.P., (ed.), New Haven, CT: Knights of Columbus Supreme Council, 2007. [28] Translated into French as Attirance homosexuelle : accompagner les personnes, Mili Hawran et le p. Louis-Marie Guitton, (trans.), Paray-le-Monial (Saône-et-Loire): editions de l'Emmanuel, 2015. ISBN 978-2-35389-402-4

Journal articles, essays, book reviews and forewords

  • "Homosexuality and Marriage," Homiletic & Pastoral Review, December 1961. [29]
  • "Homosexuality and Vocations," American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. 164, No. 1 (January 1971), 42-55.
  • "On Understanding Human Sexuality," with William E. May, Communio 4 (1977) 195-225; reprinted in The Clergy Review 63.8 (August 1978) 294-309, a critique of Athony Kosnik, et al., Human Sexuality in Our Day: New Directions in American Catholic Thought, Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1977. ISBN 978-0809102235. The article was expanded into a booklet, On Understanding 'Human Sexuality', Chicago, IL: Franciscan Herald Press, 1977. ASIN: B003QTTNFK
  • "Masturbation: A Sin Against Faithful and Life-Giving Love," Int'l Review of Natural Family Planning, Vol. 111, No. 2, Summer 1979. Translated into Portuguese as "Masturbação: considerações para superação do vício," Courage Brasil, February 4, 2011.[30]
  • "Human Sexuality: A Reply to Father Connolly," with William E. May, Australasian Catholic Record 57.4 (October 1980) 402-411.
  • "Expressing Marital Love during the Fertile Phase," International Review of Natural Family Planning, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Winter, 1981) 204-210. [31]
  • "Critique of 'Notes on Homesexuality' (Seán O'Riordan, C.Ss.R.)", Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter Vol. 7, No. 2, (March 1984), p. 8.[32]
  • Review, Contraception and Catholicism, Common Faith Tract no.5, by William E. May, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Vol.7 No.3, June 1984, pp. 17–18.[33].
  • Review, Homosexuality: The Test Case for Christian Social Ethics, by James P. Hanigan, New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1988, 194 pp. Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 2, December 1988, pp. 19–22. [34]
  • "Sexual Abstinence for the Homosexual Person," Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Vol.15 No.4, September 1992, pp. 20–22. [35]
  • "The Pastoral Problem of Masturbation," Resource Materials from Courage: A Roman Catholic Apostolate, Norwalk, CT: Courage International, 1993.[36] Also reproduced at the Courage website. [37]
  • "The Nature of the Infused Moral Virtues," Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America (1995), pp. 172–221.
  • "Observations Concerning the Revised Text of Always Our Children", Courage International, n.d. [38]
  • "Observations on the Bishops’ Letter on Marriage and Family," Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Vol. 21 No. 2, Spring 1998, pp. 2-4.[39]
  • "Response of Courage to the Nugent-Gramick Matter," Original, July 30, 1999. [40]
  • "Courage: A Chastity Program For Persons With Same Sex Attractions," The Catholic Social Science Review, Vol. 6, 2001, pp. 79–86. [41] This is the fourth of five papers delivered at the Symposium on Homosexuality and the Catholic Church in Today’s Culture on April 17, 1999 at Notre Dame Law School, Notre Dame, IN. [42]
  • "The Dangers Presented by the 'Gay Rights' Movement, and a Response," in Defending the Family: A Sourcebook, Steubenville, OH: The Catholic Social Science Press, 1999, pp. 83–101.[43]
  • "Pastoral Implications of Church Teaching on Homosexuality," The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and LifeIssues.Net, 2001. [44]
  • "Courage and EnCourage, COURAGE, 2001.[45]
  • "Courage's Response to the Contemporary Challenge of the Worldwide Gay Movement," The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and LifeIssues.Net, 2001. [46]
  • "Ongoing Reflections on Priest-Bishop Scandals," Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Vol.25 No.2, Spring 2002, pp. 7–15. [47]
  • "Recognizing and Treating Same-Sex Attractions in Children," ZENIT, The World Seen from Rome. November 16, 2003. [48]
  • Review, David Carlin, The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America, Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2005. ISBN 978-1928832799., n.d.[49]
  • "Comments on 'Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, Guidelines for Pastoral Care' issued November 14, 2006 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops," COURAGE Newsletter, Vol. 2006, No. 4.[50]
  • Foreword to Rosemarie Scott, Clean of Heart: Overcoming Habitual Sins Against Purity, Seattle, WA: CreateSpace, 2006. ISBN 978-1507617519.
  • With W. Jerome Bracken and Maria Valdés, "Spiritual Direction, Therapy, and the Directee," The Lineacre Quarterly, the official journal of the Catholic Medical Association, Vol. 5, Issue: 3, Aug 2008, pp. 257-264. [51]
  • "Regarding 'Gay Marriage'," Patheos, July 7, 2009. [52]
  • "What is Marital Union?" Patheos, July 9, 2009. [53]
  • Review, with William E. May, Human Rights and the Unborn Child by Rita Joseph, Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2009 ISBN 978-9004175600; Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change by Arthur Goldberg, Tehachapi, CA: Red Heifer Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0963147899, The Lineacre Quarterly, the official journal of the Catholic Medical Association, Vol.77, Issue 2 (01 May 2010), pp. 229-237. [54]
  • "Saint Augustine, Freedom of Will, and Pornography," The Lineacre Quarterly, the official journal of the Catholic Medical Association, Vol. 77, Issue 1 (01 February 2010), pp. 81-92. [55]
  • "Homosexuality and the Church: Clear answers to difficult questions on same-sex attraction and gay 'marriage'", Renew America, June 20, 2010.[56]

Interviews and lectures

  • Mar 20, 1957, lecture on the Report of the British Roman Catholic Advisory Committee on Prostitution and Homosexual Offenses and the Existing Law, given at the Baltimore-Washington Regional Meeting of the Society of Catholic College Teachers of Sacred Doctrine.
  • Feb 9, 2003, "Conversation: Fr John Harvey, founder of Courage - You need friends if you want a life of chastity," The Catholic Weekly. [57]
  • Jan 24, 2004, "Source of Same-Sex Attractions in Children: Parenting and Social Influences," Catholic Online.[58] Retrieved 2015-06-29
  • Nov 30, 2005, "Father Harvey on the Strengths of the New Vatican Instruction," ZENIT, The World Seen from Rome. [59]
  • Dec 7, 2006, "Pastoral Care for Those With Same-Sex Attraction," ZENIT, The World Seen from Rome. [60]
  • Jun 20, 2010, "Homosexuality and the Church: Clear answers to difficult questions on same-sex attraction and gay 'marriage'," RenewAmerica [61]


  • Goals of EnCourage, A Guide for Parents of Children with Same Sex Attraction, Encourage International, n.d. [62]
  • Profile in Courage, pt. l: Into the Light; pt. 2: The cry of the faithful, VHS Video, New York, NY: College Ministries, 2001. Reissued by Metanoia Press, 2009. [63]
  • Losing A Child to the Homosexual Lifestyle, A Discussion with Fr. John Harvey, Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Oldsmar, FL: Women of Grace, n.d. [64]
  • Desire of the Everlasting Hills [65]. And the radio discussion. [66]

See also

External links

  • Courage International (Official Site)[67]


  1. Eamonn Kane, "Difficult questions on homosexuality and gay 'marriage' answered by Fr John Harvey, OSFS," Renew America, June 20, 2010. [1] Retrieved 2015-06-30
  2. About Courage Retrieved 2015-06-29. See also USCCB documents on "Abstinence and Chastity." [2]
  3. Rev. Msgr. Robert J. Batule, "In Memoriam: Rev. John F. Harvey, O.S.F.S. (1918-2010)," The Catholic Social Science Review, 16 (2011), pp. 365-366.[3] Retrieved 2015-06-29
  4. Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, "The Memory of Fr. John Harvey, OSFS and the Future of Courage and EnCourage," keynote address at the the 31st Annual Courage and EnCourage Conference, held at the University of St Mary of the Lake in the Archdiocese of Chicago, July 29 - August 1, 2011. [4]
  5. Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, DeSales World, Vol. 23, No. 2, Fall 2010/Winter 2011, p. 2 [5] Retrieved 2015-06-30
  6. Obituary, Reverend John F. Harvey, The Morning Call, Dec. 29, 2010. Retrieved 2015-06-29
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 William E. May, "In Memory of Father John F. Harvey, OSFS," Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Vol 34. No. 1, (Spring 2011), pp. 12-14. [6] Retrieved 2015-06-30
  8. "The Church and Father Curran," Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter, Vol. 9, No. 4 (September 1986), p. 8. [7]
  9. Wipf and Stock Publishers, "John F. Harvey," 2014. [8]; Prabook Directories, "John F. Harvey", n.d. [9] Retrieved 2015-06-30
  10. Jamie Rankis and Jenna Turner, "Retired from DeSales, Rev. Harvey was 'A Blessing for us All'," The Minstrel, Vol. 44, No. 6, 2010. [10]
  11. Steve Weatherbe, "Remembering Father John Harvey," National Catholic Register, January 5, 2011.[11] Retrieved 2015-06-29
  12. Courage International, "Twenty-Eighth Annual COURAGE Conference, July 30-August 2, 2015."[12] The official Courage website, however, states that the meeting took place at the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Lower Manhattan. (Courage International, "About")[13]
  13. Matthew A.Rarey, "Courage Continues Mission of Its Founder, Father Harvey," National Catholic Register, October 17, 2011. [14] Retrieved 2015-06-29
  14. Scalia, Idem.
  15. Batule, op. cit.
  16. Obituary, op. cit. Retrieved 2015-06-29
  17. Rev John F. Harvey, Find a Grave Retrieved 2015-06-29
  18. Batule, op. cit.[15]. See also, EWTN, op. cit., [16] citing the statement made by Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo of the Pontifical Council for the Family, speaking on behalf of the Holy See. Retrieved 2015-06-29
  19. Catholic Social Teachings, Diocese of Sioux Falls.[17] Retrieved 2015-06-29
  20. Burke, op. cit.
  21. Sandra Yocum Mize, Joining the Revolution in Theology: The College Theology Society, 1954-2004, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007, p. 11-12. ISBN 978-0742531956
  22. College Theology Society, "Past Officers of the CTS", February 18, 2007. [18] Retrieved 2015-06-30
  23. CTSA, "Membership in the Catholic Theological Society of America," n.d., p. 188. [19] Retrieved 2015-06-30
  24. Stephen M. Krason, "Introduction" in Symposium on Homosexuality and the Catholic Church in Today’s Culture on April 17, 1999 at Notre Dame Law School, Notre Dame, IN [20] Retrieved 2015-06-29
  25. MSA, "The Members of the Mariological Society of America" in Proceedings of the Thirty-First National Convention of the Mariological Society of America held in New York, NY, January 3–4, 1980 Vol. 31 (1980), Art. 15, p. 151; [21] Retrieved 2015-06-30
  26. Catholic Medical Association, "Program for the 81st Annual Educational Conference, Saint Paul, Minnesota, September 27–29, 2012", p. 40.[22]
  27. The Morning Call, October 26, 1988. [23] Retrieved 2015-06-30
  28. Catholic New York, January 12, 2011. [24] Retrieved 2015-06-30
  29. DeSales University, "Rev. John F. Harvey Awarded Cardinal Cooke Medal During Special Mass At St. Patrick's Cathedral, Monday, Oct 6, 2003." [25] Retrieved 2015-06-29
  30. DeSales University, "Dr. Brian Kane" [26]. Retrieved 2015-07-01
  31. "Letter from the President," DeSales University Magazine, Fall 2014, p. 2. [27] Retrieved 2015-07-01