Philly’s LGBTQ Catholic church celebrates 50 years of acceptance and community

— Dignity Philadelphia has members of all ages, from Gen Zers to Boomers.

Checking in to the 50th anniversary party for Dignity Philadelphia, held May 2023 at the Mummers Museum.

By Kristine Villanueva

Step inside the recreation center at Saint Luke and the Epiphany on Sunday evenings and you’ll find a traditional celebration of mass. Except in this case, the priest is a married woman.

Nestled in the heart of the Gayborhood is Dignity Philadelphia, a church for LGBTQ practicing Catholics and allies.

Inside the space on 13th Street between Pine and Spruce, metal folding chairs replace church pews. Hymns and prayers are modified to include gender-nonconforming language. And a red banner hangs behind the altar, bearing the names of congregants who died, some from gun violence, some from the AIDS epidemic — all of them a part of a legacy of existing in exuberant protest that’s been going strong for half a century.

“It was really an amazing experience, to feel so comfortable and immediately embraced, in part because I recognize some of the names on the wall,” said Kathleen Gibbons Schuck, 67, who recalled seeing the red banner during her first time presiding over mass.

Founded in 1973, Dignity Philadelphia has been progressive in allowing married people, women and LGBTQ people to lead mass, as well as involving lay people in leadership decisions.

“I think the greater church could benefit from recognizing that, you know, your gray haired [male] pastor isn’t the only one with a perspective here,” said Schuck, who was ordained by a movement called the Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

Dignity Philadelphia celebrated 50 years in May 2023.

Nationwide, over 2 million LGBT people (the term used in the study) also say they are religious, according to a 2020 report by UCLA’s Williams Institute, with nearly 25% of adults identifying as Catholic. Still, a growing number of teens consider themselves religiously unaffiliated. That’s where spaces like Dignity come in.

“People come along and question things. We do something different,” said Dignity Philadelphia board member Kaeden Thompson, 30, of Kensington. “Young queer people deserve spirituality, deserve faith, deserve communities where they feel loved and accepted for who they are.”

Dignity is a nationwide movement with chapters in over 30 locations around the U.S. The organization, and its Philly chapter, were founded in the years after Vatican II, a council convened in Rome by Pope John XIII from 1962 to 1965.

A Dignity Philadelphia sidewalk mass in 1976.

This period of Catholic church history is often cited as the genesis for more widespread social justice teachings, in addition to an updated liturgy that gave a larger role to lay people and other fundamental changes.

“It was really exciting. It made you feel like you were really a Christian, that you were taking on the message of Jesus and proclaiming it and celebrating it at liturgies,” said Sister Jeannine Gramick, who was instrumental in Dignity Philadelphia’s founding.

At the organization’s 50th celebration in May, she was recognized with a lifetime achievement award.

It was 1971 when, as a student at the University of Pennsylvania, Gramick attended a mass at someone’s home and met Dominic, a gay man who confided that he and his friends felt alienated by the church at large.

Gramick then started organizing masses for Dominic and his friends in his apartment. Local priests Father Paul Morrissey and Father Bob Nugent presided. Gramick helped Nugent, Morrissey and another priest, Myron Judy, to form Dignity Philadelphia.

What resulted was a ministry focused on community-building. It drew on the liberation theology popular in some Latin American countries, which places the needs of poor or disenfranchised people at the center of church work and interpretation of scripture.

A Dignity Philadelphia contingent at a march in the 1970s.

Dignity has helped thousands of LGBTQ Catholics throughout the years, Gramick said. The organization’s work has also reached the higher echelons of the church. During a Dignity national convention in the 80’s, Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen allowed members to celebrate mass at St. James Cathedral, the seat of the archdiocese, which angered conservative Catholics and ruffled more than a few feathers at the Vatican.

Today, the Philadelphia chapter aims to be an intergenerational space, where younger people can gain wisdom from more senior members.

Unwrapping the cake for the 50th anniversary party for Dignity Philadelphia, held May 2023 at the Mummers Museum.

“Being around, learning from and hearing direct stories from queer elders has been a big thing for me,” said Kate Huffman, 29, a member of Dignity, who lives in Kensington. “I grew up in a place where I thought I was the only gay person. Just having that has been really meaningful and lovely.”

LGBTQ Catholics know advocating for their rights — both in and outside of the church — is an ongoing battle, but they don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

“We are here,” said Thompson, the Dignity Philadelphia board member, “and we have always been here.”

Complete Article HERE!

Why all Christians should support LGBTQ persons

by >

I recently saw a sponsored social media post by a Catholic that said “Call the LGBTQ community for what they are: sexual degenerates.” A Catholic website garnered over 90,000 signatures in attempts to stop a recent LGBTQ ministry conference at Fordham University — a conference whose modest goal was “to build community, share best practices and worship together.” Meanwhile, a prominent Catholic speaker campaigns to “Reclaim the Month” of June — with t-shirts and everything! — for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is apparently threatened by Pride month.

And this is just a mild sample — and all in my limited purview as a Catholic whose experience with LGBTQ support has otherwise been generally positive.

Unsurprisingly, the Christian community at large offers a range of perspectives on LGBTQ issues. Many progressive churches perform same-sex marriages, ordain openly gay ministers, and embrace theologies that allow for a more inclusive sexual anthropology. Many other churches maintain a traditional Christian sexual ethic and understanding of marriage. The Catholic Church itself, while officially upholding its longstanding sexual teaching and ethics, varies largely in its approach to LGBTQ issues and support of LGBTQ persons.

While it may be true that many traditional communities are not openly hostile to the LGBTQ community, one may nevertheless feel unwelcome simply for being gay or trans. Indeed, as the abovementioned examples demonstrate, some Christians go at length to stress that LGBTQ persons aren’t welcome. Moreover, many churches do not offer opportunities for their LGBTQ individuals to flourish and offer their own gifts.

In other words, many churches do not encourage their LGBTQ members to be, well, church. But it shouldn’t be like this. All churches — conservative or progressive, Catholic or otherwise — should welcome, appreciate, and care for LGBTQ persons. Here are seven reasons why.

1. Because LGBTQ above all refers to individual persons and not merely any moral or political issue.

We’re so accustomed to relating LGBTQ to the so-called “hot button” issues of the day — often in the realm of political ideology and activism — that we forget the faces behind the acronym. But to put first things first, LGBTQ individuals are (surprise!) people. Whether gay, lesbian, trans, or straight, all of us are made in the image and likeness of God. Each person is stamped with an intrinsic dignity, no matter one’s experiences, struggles, and weaknesses.

God calls every person into relationship with him. The human person is literally designed for intimate communion with his Creator, and being homosexual, bisexual, or transgender doesn’t change this. The Church’s job is to advance — not obstruct — every person’s relationship with God in its work of evangelization and pastoral care. It’s no secret that the Catholic Church adheres to a traditional Christian understanding of marriage and the family. But consider how Pope Francis nevertheless addresses the need to affirm the dignity of those who are gay:

“We would like before all else to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration” (Amoris Laetitia 250).

Affirming the dignity of the LGBTQ person involves an appreciation and engagement with the concrete reality of the individual. The call to accompany the person — in view of her experiences, however complex and messy — is therefore more important than a mere recitation of abstract principles. “Realities are greater than ideas,” as Pope Francis would say. When we consider the Holy Father’s own approach, it makes sense that our reasons for LGBTQ support should begin with this basic call to encounter other persons as persons. Rather than have a ready-made answer from the “realm of pure ideas,” we are called to accompany the person in the specific situations of her life — even if (and especially if) they challenge our usual ways of thinking (Evangelli Gaudium 232).

2. Because the Church is for everyone.

The Church is for everyone. That’s what the word “catholic” means: the Church is universal, encompassing all kinds of people. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,” as Paul says, for we are “all one in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 3:28). So why does it seem like our churches pick out LGBTQ persons to the extent of making them “other”? There is no other in the Body of Christ. As I once heard a priest say, there is no “them and us” — there’s only “us.”

Because the Church is one big Us, we cannot go about our lives while disregarding the rest of our brothers and sisters, particularly those in need. Paul likens the Church to a body with many parts — a union so intense that “if one part suffers,” then “every part suffers with it” (1 Cor 12:26). Do our churches recognize the suffering endured by many of its LGBTQ children? Do some of our churches actually make the lives of LGBTQ Christians more difficult, whether by simply acting as bystanders or by actively engaging in insensitive rhetoric?

The challenge of the Church is to ever expand its tent, for its mission is to the gather the human family into the Family of God. Many Catholics are shocked by such outreach, but often those we consider “outside” the Church are precisely those who most belong. Then again, this is the way of the Kingdom. In his earthly ministry, Christ initiated the in-gathering of the Kingdom of God by going to — and preferring — those otherwise considered outside the household of God. The Church, says Pope Francis, has to “go forth to everyone without exception” because in the Church “there is a place for everyone, with all their problems” (EG 47-48).

3. Because, well, Jesus.

When it comes to reaching out to LGBTQ persons, then, we have a solid foundation in the example of Christ himself. It sounds cliché, but really, what would Jesus do? If one searches for the Jesus of the Gospels, it’s not hard to find a guy who is compassionately concerned for the outcast and other. Christ preferred the poor, the sick, the sinner. Christ went to the margins — to those otherwise excluded from society. It doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to imagine a gay man in that category, does it?

Many Christians counter by pointing to a Jesus who “loved in truth” (with a firm emphasis on “truth”), who would “name the sin for what it is.” They will argue that Christ may have reached out to the outcast, but only for the sake of the individual’s salvation. According to this line of thinking, the emphasis is not on accompaniment per se but really about conversion. In this view, the most necessary part of Christ’s outreach involves a demand that the sinner turns away from her sin. But we must realize that first Christ invited those he encountered into a deeper relationship with himself, and this relationship is the seed from which conversion grows. What he did in his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, he does with all of his broken, would-be followers. Jesus calls us into a deeper life founded on himself. And even here, the focus of Christ is not on condemnation but on how an intimate relationship with Christ is the only way to transform our lives and set us on a trajectory for true fulfillment.

The flaw in the approach of some Catholics towards the LGBT community is not that they want to tell the “truth in love” or believe we should take sin seriously. The issue is an inordinate focus on sin in the LGBTQ community, as if being gay or trans or queer was especially sinful. (Be assured: LGBTQ Catholics are quite familiar with what the Church says about them in relation to sin.) The inordinate focus on sin by some Christians comes across as a thinly-veiled desire for control and certainty. In a different context, Pope Francis talks about contemporary Catholic gnostics who want to “force others to submit to their way of thinking.” I would submit that this gnosticism lurks behind many Christians’ constant insistence on emphasizing sin when speaking about the LGBTQ community. Instead of proceeding from Christlike care for gay or trans individuals, such thinking reduces Christ’s teaching to a “cold and harsh logic that seeks to dominate everything” (Gaudete et Exsultate 39). Once again, it’s just another sample of the idea trumping the reality of the person.

4. Because sexuality is more than just sex.

Are LGBTQ persons — as members of the human family — sinners? Of course. Can sexuality be used in sinful ways? Again, definitely! But identifying LGBTQ persons as morally disordered, simply due to their being gay or trans or queer is unwarranted and unjust. Acts can be sinful, and desires towards sinful acts can be morally disordered. But something like sexuality or sexual orientation, which are much broader than desires to commit specific acts, can hardly be reduced to an intrinsically sinful inclination.

A popular slogan among some traditional Christians is “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Oddly, I’ve only ever heard this in reference to homosexuality, which in itself is telling. But if we only focus on sexual activity (as if that’s all it means to be gay or lesbian or trans), then we are doing a grave injustice to the persons involved. To get this, all one has to do is reflect on one’s own sexuality: Think how it affects you in multiple aspects of life. It’s not just about who you want to go to bed with; it also concerns how you relate to others, how you see the world, and how you desire to love and be loved.

Churches can’t start and end with sexual ethics. If our churches want to maintain traditional teaching, they will still need to consider that homosexuality is as much about personality and relationship-making than “sexual acts.”

5. Because LGBTQ persons are made for relationship.

LGBTQ persons want meaningful lives centered on love, relationship, and self-giving. They are like everybody else in that way. It’s a sad fact that, for many traditional churches, the “best” pastoral advice offered to gay persons is simply to “remain celibate.” That’s it. For traditional churches, marriage is not an option. However, in many of these same churches, marriage is the only conceivable path to intimate relationship. This is as much part Western culture’s fault as it is the Church’s. In effect, we’re made to believe that we’ll be forever alone and unfulfilled if we’re never married.

It’s not hard to see, then, why our modern culture has demanded gay marriage. If marriage is the only way to ensure meaningful relationships, then ought it be a right for everyone? Makes sense to me. Yet if traditional churches are to maintain marriage as a man-woman institution — as well as the only legitimate place for sex — they must find other ways to foster vocations of love and relationship for LGBTQ persons in our churches. Thankfully, there are Catholics doing just this. (Anyone who has not read up on Eve Tushnet should do so!) The greater Church must recognize this basic human need for relationship as one that affects the self-understanding of LGBTQ Christians. We don’t want lonely, loveless lives!

All people — regardless of sexual orientation or sexual identity — need intimate, self-giving relationships. The human person is not meant to be alone (Gen 2:18). This is as true of the gay or lesbian or trans person as it is for the heterosexual man or woman. While the Christian is called to carry his or her cross, the LGBTQ person’s embrace of the Christian faith does not change this fundamental anthropology. In our support of LGBTQ persons, can we promote meaningful paths of love and relationship? Can our churches recognize committed partnerships as a locus of Christian love — or are they to be rejected from the get-go as inherently sinful? Such questions cannot be avoided if we are to responsibly listen to the experiences of LGBTQ Christians.

6. Because LGBT persons have gifts to offer the Church.

Should we really be surprised if many LGBTQ persons perceive they have nothing to offer their churches — especially the ones that have routinely called them “objectively disordered” and hell-bound? Should we be surprised that gay persons feel unwanted when openly gay teachers and workers are fired from Catholic schools and businesses?

LGBTQ persons testify to the diversity of God’s creation and the manifold ways of reflecting the divine wisdom. This doesn’t mean the human condition as we now find it entirely reflects God’s will, for we cannot ignore the presence of sin and the present imperfection of a creation still “groaning” for its renewal (Rom 8:22). Still, the LGBTQ community challenges us to expand our understanding of humanity. LGBTQ persons challenge the Church in particular to discern how God is working their lives. “God is present in the life every person,” as Pope Francis says, and “we cannot exclude this by our presumed certainties” (GE 42). When the Church can recognize and embrace the Spirit in gay and trans and queer folk, the Church will live up to its calling as the family of God.

I truly feel a great embarrassment for our Church — a Church that claims to be Christ’s universal family — whenever Catholic leaders and institutions decide to single out LGBTQ persons as particularly scandalous or sinful. It seems to me —informed by the Jesus of the Gospels and pastoral approach of Pope Francis — that it is such Catholic leaders and institutions that really act scandalously and sinfully.

7. Because the Church is called to listen.

Supporting LGBTQ persons is a call to first listen to them. As Church, our posture must always be of listening. The Church first receives God’s revelation; the Church then teaches. The Church must first discern the Word of God before it can proclaim it. Since the Second Vatican Council and especially with Pope Francis, the Catholic Church has sought to posture itself from a position of listening — of listening to non-Catholic traditions, of listening to the surrounding culture, of listening to the experience of the lay faithful. No longer is the Church seen primarily in terms of a downward pyramid, where the hierarchy issues commands to a passive laity. Instead, the entire People of God receives and teaches the Word of God; the pope and bishops are servants first. The Church does not always have a ready answer. Instead, the Church must discern what God may be saying here and now.

Many Christians would claim to be “courageous” in their fight for truth in a secular culture. Many conservative Christians believe their challenge is to be “courageous” by standing up for traditional values and rebuffing the modern way. Many Catholics also want “courageous” priests to preach out strongly against moral evils in society, or “courageous” bishops to speak out against political opponents. In the midst of the many cultural wars — both outside and inside the Church — there is a call for a new crusade to defend a certain approach to traditionalism and orthodoxy. And the stance tends to be one of suspicion and resistance. Instead of openness to what could be, these Christians think they already have the answers.

Responding to LGBTQ issues with suspicion and resistance, these Christians choose the comfort of “settled doctrine.” But this is an easy way out, and it’s anything but courageous. Arguably, fear, not courage, lurks behind this approach. There is a fear of change, a fear of a shaken worldview, or a fear that Christianity is not as neat-and-tidy as otherwise hoped.

Listening is an act of true courage. Becoming vulnerable by opening ourselves to the experiences of another is courageous. Allowing ourselves to be challenged and embracing new questions is how we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into further truth. Closing ourselves off prevents the Spirit from moving us beyond ourselves. Closing ourselves off is divisive and sinful. It is contrary to the way of Christ, who was self-giving, even unto death.

Complete Article HERE!

LGBTQ Catholics dream of a changed church, while seeing reasons to hope

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As a child in inner-city Milwaukee, Father Bryan Massingale’s grandmother gave him a leather-bound copy of The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, along with a dream that he might need it someday.

“My grandmother was not delusional. She did not live in denial of reality,” said Massingale, a Jesuit priest who holds an endowed chair in ethics at Fordham University, in New York City. “Her gift was a vision, an act of hope. It was a dream, a hope, a reminder that the neighborhood, with its drugs, violence and rodent-infested corner store with overpriced goods, did not define or limit who I could be.”

That’s important to know, he declared, since he was speaking as “a Black, gay priest and theologian” at Fordham’s recent Ignatian Q Conference for LGBTQ students from Jesuit campuses. This event was a “space for our dreaming, for queer dreams” of hope for “despised and disdained and stigmatized peoples,” he added.

“I dream of a church where gay priests and lesbian sisters are acknowledged as the holy and faithful leaders they already are,” he said, in a published version of his address. “I dream of a church where LGBTQ employees and schoolteachers can teach our children, serve God’s people and have their vocations, sexuality and committed loves affirmed. …

“I dream of a church that enthusiastically celebrates same-sex loves as incarnations of God’s love among us.”

Theological visions of this kind inspire hope for some Catholics and concern for others.

Thus, the North American phase of the Vatican’s global Synod on Synodality found “strong tensions within the Church,” while participants in the virtual assemblies also “felt hope and encouragement and a desire for the synodal process to continue,” according to the 36-page report (.pdf here) released on April 12 by U.S. and Canadian Catholic leaders.

Catholics are “called to act co-responsibly in a synodal fashion, not to wait until we know how to do everything perfectly, but to walk together as imperfect people,” said one group, in its summary of the process. Another group added: “When Church structures and practices are dynamic and able to move with the Holy Spirit, everyone is able to ‘use their gifts in service of the Church and of each other.'”

Calling for “greater inclusivity and welcome” within the church, the final report said this was especially true with “women, young people, immigrants, racial or linguistic minorities, LGBTQ+ persons” and “people who are divorced and remarried without an annulment.”

But the report also warned about the “danger of false or unrealistic expectations regarding what the synodal process is meant to be and to ‘produce,’ since people living in “North American culture” tend to focus on “measurable results and … winners and losers.” Some participants, for example, questioned calls for “radical inclusion,” while asking about the “pastoral and even doctrinal implications” of that term.

The explosive nature of these debates jumped into the news weeks later when the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York hosted, next to a side altar, a “God is Trans” exhibit.

In his written explanation of his art, Adah Unachukwu said this display “maps the queer spiritual journey” through “Sacrifice, Identity and Communion.” There is, he added, “no devil; just past selves” and “Communion rounds out the spiritual journey, by placing God and the mortal on the same plane.”

After seeing headlines, Archdiocese of New York officials promised to investigate the exhibit at the Paulist Fathers parish. The congregation also offers, on its website, an “Out at St. Paul” ministry to the “Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans and Queer community.”

Media reports early this week noted that parish leaders changed the name of this art exhibit, but that it remained in place.

Massingale delivered his Fordham address before that controversy. However, he did stress that Catholics must dare to share dreams of change – even those with “an inherently subversive quality” – while seeking a “new and more just social order.”

Referring to the “wedding banquet at Cana,” when Jesus turned water into wine, the Jesuit theologian called for a changed church in which “people of all races, genders and sexualities rejoice at the presence of love” and a world in which “spiritual wounds will be healed, where faith-based violence will be no more, where fear and intolerance are relics of history.”

Complete Article HERE!

Church’s ‘God Is Trans’ Display Sparks Controversy

— ‘The Church Should Not Be Promoting This’

By Michael Foust

A church in New York City has divided members and ignited a social media debate after hosting an art display claiming “God is trans.”

The “God is Trans: A Queer Spiritual Journey” display at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, a Catholic congregation, includes artwork that maps the “queer spiritual journey,” according to a description of the artwork at the church. The New York Post first reported on the controversy.

“The church should not be promoting this,” one member told The New York Post. “I understand there are transgender people. I pray for all people, but enough is enough.

“It seems like they are trying to force the agenda on others,” the member said. “Also, when a friend asked a priest about this, they didn’t answer. You can’t put this out on the altar and then hide.

“That’s what gets the church in trouble.”

The pro-transgenderism display by artist Adah Unachukwu conflicts with the teachings of the Vatican. Pope Francis this year called gender ideology “dangerous” and said it blurred “differences and the value of men and women.” In 2019, the Vatican released a document saying it’s a “fact” that “a person’s sex is a structural determinant of male or female identity.”

The description of the artwork said it focused on three points: Sacrifice, Identity and Community.

“The painting Sacrifice and its complementary act in the film speak to the need to shed an old life and personhood in order to be able to focus on your spiritual need,” the description said. “There is no devil: just past selves. Identity is the most impactful part of the exhibition. What does holiness look like? What does your god look like? Are these two portrayals that can be merged? Finally, Communion rounds out the spiritual journey, by placing God and the mortal on the same plane to speak to one another. This part of the installation is about a spiritual home and the ways we can achieve this home in our everyday lives.”

Some church members supported the display.

“I don’t understand the art, but this church is very liberal, which is why I love this church,” Cherri Ghosh, 80, told The Post. “They are really in the present when others are not.”

Complete Article HERE!

US bishops’ document on trans health care ‘harms people,’ queer Catholics say

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a document on trans health care that queer Catholics say is harmful.

By John Ferrannini

LGBTQ Roman Catholics are responding to a document from the United States bishops about how the church’s health care services should respond to requests for gender-affirming care.

The document, issued March 20, predictably does not recognize that what it terms as “gender dysphoria” and “gender incongruence” should be treated with surgical intervention, stating, “Catholic health care services must not perform interventions, whether surgical or chemical, that aim to transform the sexual characteristics of a human body into those of the opposite sex or take part in the development of such procedures.”

Written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on doctrine — which includes Diocese of Oakland Bishop Michael Barber — the document cites Pope Francis, who wrote in “Amoris Laetitia” (a binding document of church doctrine) that “biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated.” Unlike homosexuality, the church’s most recent catechism does not address this issue.

The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental provider of health care in the nation. Barber’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this report but the Archdiocese of San Francisco did respond when the B.A.R. reached out Monday, stating that it “stands in solidarity with Pope Francis and the USCCB.”

“The Catholic Church has always viewed the body and soul as integral to the human person. A soul can never be in another body, much less be in the wrong body,” Peter Marlow, the executive director of communications and media relations for the archdiocese, stated. “Any technological intervention that does not accord with the fundamental order of the human person as a unity of body and soul, including the sexual difference inscribed in the body, ultimately does not help but, rather, harms the human person. Particular care should be taken to protect children and adolescents who are still maturing and who are not capable of providing informed consent.”

Paul Riofski, a gay man who’s the co-chair of Dignity SF — an affinity group for LGBTQ Catholics — told the Bay Area Reporter that “this document is just really misguided.”

“It’s just another example of the leadership of the USCCB going their own way, apart from the pastoral approach, when you deal with decisions on an individual basis, and look at how people can live fully as a Christian, a Catholic and a human being,” Riofski said. “It [the document] totally denies modern medical and scientific knowledge. It totally disregards the reality of intersex people, the fact that when you look at human biology many people are born without XX or XY chromosomes and the definition of ‘gender at birth’ is determined by the medical professional who delivers the baby.”

Intersex is an umbrella term for differences in sex traits or reproductive anatomy. People are born with these differences or develop them in childhood. There are many possible differences in genitalia, hormones, internal anatomy, or chromosomes.

Riofski said that the committee has failed to consider anything beyond its foregone conclusions.

“There’s nothing in God’s creation as narrow as gender is portrayed,” Riofski said.

Sara Mullin, a nonbinary person who is also a member of Dignity SF, agreed.

“I do not get the sense these particular bishops consulted with transgender and transsexual people or the science behind standards of care for trans people,” Mullin said.

Mullin also said that the document doesn’t consider the consciences of individuals.

“It takes for granted it’s not possible for a transgender person to undertake surgical or medical transition in a way that’s thoughtful, kind to oneself, and prayerful in its discernment,” Mullin said. “I think it’s concerning the conference thinks people undertaking medical transition are in best case out of a delusion and, worst case, out of maliciousness against their own body.”

New Ways Ministry, a national LGBTQ Catholic advocacy group, issued a statement of its own. Executive Director Francis DeBernardo wrote that “the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ new document on transgender health care states its intention as continuing Jesus’ healing ministry. Yet, in neglecting the experiences of trans people and in not attending to contemporary science, it harms people instead of healing them.”

DeBernardo clarified that it’s up to each bishop to determine the policies in their own dioceses.

“Thankfully, this document is limited in its power at this point,” DeBernardo said.

“Whether it becomes a national policy remains to be seen. Each bishop can still determine for himself if the recommendations in this document are helpful for the pastoral care of the transgender people in their communities,” he added. “We hope that local bishops will turn to transgender people and to the wider medical community to decide what policies about transgender healthcare they will pursue.”

A trans man who lives in the Bay Area who did not wish to be identified by name told the B.A.R. that “I feel I was naturally born this way and if I need surgery to match the inside of what I feel, that’s what I need.”

Though he isn’t Catholic — he was a Seventh-day Adventist and Latter-day Saint when he was younger — he feels that conservative Christians often “don’t like LGBTQ people. They don’t want us to have rights and be OK with ourselves and our bodies. They don’t see it — as what I said — a surgery to match the inside of how we feel. They think of it as a religious thing, and it’s only because they don’t understand anything about it.”

Complete Article HERE!