Conversion therapy and Catholicism: a conversation with Christopher Dowling
"How can I talk about how f****** real this is, without outing so many seminarians I know?"
Today, I’m sharing the first part of a recorded conversation with Christopher Dowling, a former NET missionary, a graduate of the University of Dallas, an ex-seminarian, and a conversion therapy survivor. For a number of years, Christopher worked on healing his same-sex attractions directly with Bob Schuchts (who he remembers fondly and painfully as ‘Dr. Bob’) through the John Paul II Healing Center. We talked about the subtlety of orientation change efforts in Catholic circles, how Christopher West led him to conversion therapy, why he spent more than fifty thousand dollars on these efforts, what he sees as the template of sexual repression that creates McCarricks in Catholic spaces, and how he thinks about his Catholic faith today.
Because of the significance of this conversation, and my belief that these types of stories should be given the space to be told in their complexity, our conversation will be split into two parts. Today we’ll cover Christopher’s Catholic upbringing and what led him to conversion therapy. In the next episode, we’ll dive into his experience of conversion therapy and the effect its had on his life.
Please note that there is some adult language and discussion of adult themes. This conversation may not be suitable for young children. Nonetheless, I do think it’s an important conversation for the Church, and I hope that you’ll share your own thoughts and experiences with me after listening. The Church can, and must, do better. I hope you’ll join us in seeking healing, accountability, and change.
Stay tuned next week for part 2 of this conversation! If you have a paid subscription, you can get early access to part 2 here.