The priest who counseled Rep. Robert Bauman (R-Md.) early this year is a teacher of moral and pastoral theology who has spent two decades specializing in homosexual counseling.And in the Catholic Church, where views over the correct perception of homosexuality differ, Rev. John F. Harvey is in the more conservative camp that rejects the opinion that homosexual actions can be condoned if they are the "expression of a constant love."
Instead, Harvey, 62, says he "reflects as faithfully as I can the opinions of the church -- I try to help homosexuals live the chaste life."
In the late 1950s Harvey taught Baumanhs wife, Carol, when she was a student at Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross in Washington. He was there when Baumans wed on an autumn afternoon 20 years ago, and it was to Harvey, now a member of the De Sales Hall School of Theology in Hyattsville, that Bauman turned last February for "spiritual counseling." The priest's first recommendation: that the congressman see a psychologist to help curb his alleged heavy drinking.
"The very fact that he was willing to seek help and try to straighten out his life and put himself on a regimen . . . these are the good things that have not come out in the press at all," says Harvey, who speaks carefully about his career working with gays without specifying the exact nature of the help he offered Bauman.
Stressing that he was speaking generally, Harvey said, "The process of helping persons involved in homsexuality is hard work that requires setting up for a person what I call an ascetical plan of life. One incorporates into his daily life certain practices which enable his to lead a truly spiritual life in everyday circumstances.
"The first thing that he becomes aware of is his need to turn over his life to God, that he is no longer able by himself to handle his life. He needs help from a support group, including his psychologist, spiritual counselor -- I'm making room for rabbis or ministers, you notice -- and at least one other person in whom he can confide completely, in whom he trusts and to whom he can go if he can't reach his psychologist or spiritual counselor . . . One of the most important aspects is to help the person develop deep friendships as a means of support. This is his way of expressing his sexuality in a positive way, a form of free sublimation. And I emphasise the work free. People have to love properly -- love does not have to be expressed gentitally."
Bauman admitted to "Homosexual tendencies" last month after he was charged with soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy. The U.S. attorney's office allowed him to plead innocent in exchange for his agreement to enter a court-supervised rehabilition program that included counseling with Harvey.
"An ascetical plan of life is hard wrok," said Harvey. "It's not a panacea, not a cure-all. People stumble, and they can get up again. They keep on going with the grace of God."