I may have found that out.
Personally, I thought he was an interesting choice, but I also wondered why a spokesperson from Courage Apostolate wasn't chosen.
I believe Ron Belgau is faithful to Catholic teaching, yet the group he is involved with, Spiritual Friendship, though faithful, tends to be less than enthusiastic towards the Courage format of pastoral care for SSA persons. Is that a problem? Not necessarily - except the Courage model is solidly Catholic, steeped in authentic Catholic spiritual direction and adherence to Catholic doctrine on sexual ethics. It is the only such organization recognized by the Church and organized at the request of Catholic hierarchy, guided by superior moral theologians after the example of the late Fr. John Harvey. Courage is not always supported by Catholic leaders as it ought to be, and therefore remains unknown or misunderstood by many Catholics, which is precisely why I consider it unfortunate Courage is not represented at WMOF.
That said, perhaps there seems to be a grass roots effort to introduce a sort of alternative to Courage with the introduction of Ron Belgau and the Spiritual Friendship Movement. Is it a conspiracy? I say that facetiously, of course. Archbishop Chaput wouldn't permit it, I'm confident of that. Nevertheless, there seems to be a cooperative connection at work.
What I didn't realize is that Belgau is friends with the man who coordinated the catechetical presentations for WMOF. Does that pose a conflict of interest? I'm not sure. Yet Deacon Russell appears to question the propriety of the connection. In a reply post to a post by Belgau accusing Russell of a hermeneutic of suspicion in regard to Spiritual Friendship apologetics, Deacon Russell reveals the connection between Ron Belgau and Chris Roberts, whose job it was to help prepare catechetical materials for the 2015 World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis.
From: Deacon Jim Russell and the Hermeneutic of Suspicion - a redline response by Deacon Jim Russell: [From the start, let me say that mine is not a “hermeneutic of suspicion” but a “hermeneutic of St. Paul”—as in “test everything, retain what is good.” ]
Moreover, as I noted in that post, Love Is Our Mission, the preparatory catechesis for the World Meeting of Families, teaches: [Ron, surely you realize that this catechesis is not in the least a magisterial resource? ]
….I have also been invited to speak at the World Meeting of Families. While I don’t think this counts as an endorsement of everything I’ve ever said or written, it suggests that those involved in planning the World Meeting see the “spiritual friendship” I have spoken and written about, drawing on the work of St. Aelred of Rievaulx, as at the very least compatible with the ideas of friendship recommended in Church teaching, and in the preparatory catechism in particular. [Time for a bit of full disclosure here, Ron, regarding what you say above—it’s a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, isn’t it? It’s no mere happy coincidence that you’re speaking at the WMOF and that its catechetical text contains echoes of the thought found at “Spiritual Friendship,” right? After all, you know full well that none other than Chris Roberts was the editor of the WMOF catechesis—the same Chris Roberts who was once listed as a contributor to your blog site and who was one of the presenters alongside you and other “Spiritual Friends” at the “Gay in Christ” conference held last November in Notre Dame?? You are right that these two facts make it clear that those in Philadelphia who planned the presentations and the catechesis do have a clearly intentional bias in favor of the thinking you and Roberts espouse. I’m just not sure that’s a very good thing.] - Finish reading here.
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope... (1 Peter 3:15)
I'm definitely not trying to be contentious or attempting to stir up more controversy, but the revelation may help explain why Courage International was not chosen to speak.
As I said, I excerpted the comments from a longer post, originally from Belgau, pretty much calling out Deacon Russell. I must admit I felt a lot of sympathy for Belgau, obviously he gets annoyed with Deacon's challenges - but I value what Deacon Russell has to say when he follows St. Paul's admonition to "test everything, retain what is good." I'm not sure what I would do without Deacon Russell's challenges. I'm very sympathetic to the Catholics involved with Spiritual Friends, yet being this such an emotional subject, there is a need for clarity at every step. Deacon Jim is a great help in that way.
I think any such movement as Spiritual Friends and their representatives ought to welcome challenges to their project - it serves to prove their faith and strengthen their fidelity I think, as well as helps to clarifies their thought. Deacon Russell's challenges bring about the clarity needed to help discern motivation and purpose, and assure ordinary Catholics everything is orthodox.
"When you come to serve the LORD prepare yourself for trials." One needs patient endurance to do the will of God - especially in the field of catechetics and apologetics.