Critics attack Des Moines diocese’s gender-identity policies

— Critics are attacking the Diocese of Des Moines’ new gender-identity policies, calling them hateful and discriminatory

Bishop William M. Joensen

Critics are attacking the Diocese of Des Moines’ new gender-identity policies, calling them hateful and discriminatory.

The policies will go into effect on Jan. 16, the Des Moines Register reported Saturday. The policies have not yet been released to the public. The Des Moines Register’s report was based on details of the policies first reported by KCCI-TV, which obtained documents outlining the regulations.

The new rules ban the use of preferred pronouns during ministry, require people to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their birth sex and wear clothes that match their birth sex. Students will be allowed to participate only in sports and activities that are “consistent” with their biological sex.

The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa condemned the policies as “dangerous” and said they promote bigotry toward transgender Iowans.

Courtney Reyes, executive director of the LGBTQ+ organization One Iowa, said the diocese shouldn’t portray itself as compassionate.

“You cannot pretend to be compassionate while mis-gendering people and denying them access to any and all spaces under your control,” Reyes said.

Democratic state Sen. Claire Celsi wrote on Facebook: “This is not what Jesus would do.”

“To actually come out, and say, ‘We’re going to stamp this out, we’re going to pretend like it doesn’t exist,’ and issue this kind of edict is, I think, reprehensible,” she told the Register.

Anne Marie Cox, the diocese’s communications director, said the polices came out of a lengthy process to address questions from Catholic school and church leaders.

John Robbins, communications director for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, said the archdiocese doesn’t tell other Iowa dioceses what to do. The archdiocese has previously stated that it “cannot go along with the idea that people can choose and change their gender” but is “open to other perspectives, to see if might find truth there, or to seek common ground, or to promote acceptance, even if we don’t agree.”

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LGBTQ+ Catholics recall ‘tremendous damage’ Pope Benedict XVI caused during his ‘painful’ reign

Pope Benedict XVI died aged 95.

By Patrick Kelleher

Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned as head of the Catholic Church in 2013, died on Saturday (31 December) aged 95, the Vatican confirmed in a statement.

As tributes poured in for the Pope Emeritus, LGBTQ+ Catholics recalled how his time in the Vatican marked a dark, painful era for queer people.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of LGBTQ+ Catholic organisation DignityUSA, said Pope Benedict XVI’s words harmed queer people and damaged families.

“The death of any human being is an occasion of sorrow. We pray for Pope Benedict’s soul and express our condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones,” Duddy-Burke said in a statement.

He refused to recognise even the most basic human rights for LGBTQIA+ people.

“However, his death also calls us to reflect honestly on his legacy. Benedict’s leadership in the church, as Pope and before that as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), caused tremendous damage to LGBTQIA+ people and our loved ones.”

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter's Basilica on February 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Ash Wednesday opens the liturgical 40-day period of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting, penitence and alms giving leading up to Easter.
Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica on February 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.

She continued: “His words and writings forced our community out of Catholic Churches, tore families apart, silenced our supporters, and even cost lives.

“He refused to recognise even the most basic human rights for LGBTQIA+ people. Many of us experienced the most harsh and blatant religiously justified discrimination of our lives as a result of his policies.”

Pope Benedict XVI labelled queer people ‘objectively disordered’

DignityUSA pointed out that, as leader of the CDF, Pope Benedict XVI was responsible for a 1986 letter which labelled gay men and lesbians as “objectively disordered”.

The same letter said same-sex sexual relationships were “intrinsically evil” and “essentially self-indulgent”.

It is impossible to overstate the damage Pope Benedict’s repeated dehumanising of LGBTQIA+ people has caused.

Furthermore, DignityUSA condemned the former pontiff for banning the distribution of condoms by Catholic health and social services agencies – a move which impacted the spread of HIV.

In 2012 – during his final year as leader of the Catholic Church – he spoke out against same-sex marriage, saying it “destroyed the essence of the human creature”.

He also said allowing same-sex couples to adopt represented an “attack” on the “traditional family”.

“It is impossible to overstate the damage Pope Benedict’s repeated dehumanising of LGBTQIA+ people has caused,” Duddy-Burke added.

Pope Benedict XVI attends his final general audience in St. Peter's Square on February 27, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.
Pope Benedict XVI attends his final general audience in St. Peter’s Square on February 27, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.

“Individuals, families, and whole communities across the globe suffered tragic consequences, many of which are still felt today.

“We pray that the church will use the period of reflection following Pope Benedict’s death to acknowledge that in many cases he used his power in ways that failed to further the gospel message of love, human unity, and the responsibility to care for the marginalised.”

‘God’s Rottweiler’

Pope Benedict was a polarising force within the Catholic Church, and he was dubbed “God’s Rottweiler” during his time as pontiff for his careful adherence to traditional interpretations of church doctrine.

One of the biggest challenges he faced when he took over from Pope John Paul II was to tackle various sexual abuse scandals within the church – but he ultimately failed to take appropriate action.

In January 2022, a report found that he failed to take action against priests who abused children during his tenure as archbishop of Munich, even though he knew of allegations against them.

Honouring Pope Benedict XVI now is not only wrong. It is shameful.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an organisation that advocates for survivors, described Pope Benedict XVI as an “abuse enabler” in a press release shortly after news of his death was confirmed.

“Any celebration that marks the life of abuse enablers like Benedict must end,” the group said.

“It is past time for the Vatican to refocus on change: tell the truth about known abusive clergy, protect children and adults, and allow justice to those who have been hurt.

“Honouring Pope Benedict XVI now is not only wrong. It is shameful.”

Complete Article HERE!

Archdiocese Releases Updated Gender Policy Using Biological Sex To Determine Pronouns, Bathrooms

BY Sarah Weaver

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha has released revised gender guidelines for schools after months of conflict over the scope of the policy, the Omaha Times reports Monday.

The Archdiocese released the original policy in August, requiring students, school staff and volunteers at its 70 member schools to use the pronouns and facilities, such as bathrooms, consistent with their biological sex.

The revised policy was approved on Dec. 9, and remains “rooted” in the same “Catholic understanding of gender” that informed the earlier guidelines.

“In the Archdiocese of Omaha, all Catholic schools shall respect the biological sex of each student and shall apply all policies and procedures in relation to that student according to each student’s God-given biological sex,” the policy stipulates.

Both versions of the policy clarify that merely experiencing gender dysphoria does not disqualify a student from attending one of the archdiocese’s schools. The updated version applies to students but does not mention staff or volunteers.

Three Catholic schools in the archdiocese — Creighton Prep, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart and Marian High School — have voiced objections to the policy.

“While questions about sexuality and gender can be complex in the context of Catholic teaching, it is our duty as a Catholic school in the Ignatian tradition to meet anyone who has these questions with pastoral care and sensitivity that embodies God’s limitless love for each person,” Fr. Matt Spotts of Creighton Prep wrote in a letter.

LGBTQ advocates have criticized the policy, claiming it will harm young people who identify as transgender.

“Not only will this policy destroy trans kids’ self-esteem, mental health and social lives, but it will also endanger hundreds of children living with transphobic families who will have to be kept informed under the new regulations,” staff writer Maddie Genoways wrote in an op-ed in The Wayne Stater.

The Archdiocese of Omaha did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller’s inquiries about why the policy was updated and whether it still applies to staff and volunteers.

Complete Article HERE!

The J&B ad in which a grandfather learns to put on makeup to receive his trans granddaughter for Christmas

A hand that takes the lipstick in an oversight of its owner. The first make-up tests in front of the mirror, a trembling hand and a smear of lipstick on her mouth. Thus begins the announcement of a J&B advertising campaign that marks the beginning of the Christmas commercials. But neither the beginning, nor the end, resembles those we have seen before.

The protagonist is a grandfather who learns to put on makeup. He stares at the store owner who keeps an eye on him while she charges him for an eyeshadow set. He notices, but doesn’t care, when he is caught studying the makeup on a model’s face at the bus stop. At home, he cherishes the moments when he can learn to paint himself —and remove his make-up— in the bathroom, without his wife finding out.

The effect of seeing grandfather with clippings from magazines and catalogs to secretly learn to put on makeup has the initial sad tone of Christmas stories. The song ‘She’, by Elvis Costello, which gives the story its title, plays in the background. And like so many stories, it has a twist, but this one had not been told to us before in a Christmas campaign. We do not reveal it so that you can enjoy the end.

Lucas Paulino, founder and executive creative director of the agency responsible for the ad, El Ruso de Rocky, explains that his Christmas story takes over from last summer’s campaign, “Hay ganas de Orgullo de pueblo”, with which the brand supported the rights of the LGTBQ+ collective in rural areas. “We wanted to bring pride not to Madrid, but where it is needed, to the towns of Spain.” The creative manager affirms that once they knew the repercussion of the campaign, “we were clear that we had to continue”.

That “people’s pride” helped make visible “sexile”, the journey of LGTBQ+ people from towns to cities, driven by discrimination and lack of acceptance, and attracted by the possibility of living in freedom and being themselves. . With the Christmas story, J&B wants to contribute its grain of sand against “Christmas homosexuality”, the pain and isolation of those who feel that on these dates they cannot come to the family table to celebrate with their loved ones.

“We don’t want anyone to be left out of the celebration,” says Úrsula Mejia-Melgar, Marketing Director of Diageo (the company that owns J&B) for Southern Europe. After this summer’s campaign, the director assures that the brand discovered the importance of “celebrating the growth” of those who learn to understand people from the group in their family environment. “There is no more beautiful way to tell this reality than a Christmas story”, says Mejia-Melgar.

That Christmas story coincides, according to Diageo’s directive, with the principles of a brand that believes in “inclusion and diversity” and whose intention, he says, is “to promote moments of coexistence where everyone fits at the table.” But like any ad campaign planned months in advance, none anticipated the ad’s release to coincide with the political debate over transgender rights.

“We do not have a political agenda,” defends Mejia-Melgar, who prefers to speak of courage. “With any different announcement, that addresses topics that are not usually talked about, it is bravery.” Paulino adds that, even if they could have known that the announcement would coincide with this context, “we would have done the same.” The ad, he explains, was conceived “from respect and affection.” Like grandfather’s makeup practices for his granddaughter.

Complete Article HERE!

LGBTQ students wrestle with tensions at Christian colleges

Sean Fisher, one of the student coordinators for QPLUS, the LGBTQ student organization for the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, stands in the organization’s dedicated lounge on the college’s campus in St. Joseph, Minn., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. To Fisher, a senior in environmental studies who identifies as non-binary, the Catholic colleges’ recognition and funding of the organization represents a new era.


As monks chanted evening prayers in the dimly lit Saint John’s University church, members of the student LGBTQ organization, QPLUS, were meeting in a dedicated, Pride flag-lined lounge at the institution’s sister Benedictine college, a few miles away across Minnesota farmland.

To Sean Fisher, a senior who identifies as non-binary and helps lead QPLUS, its official recognition and funding by Saint John’s and the College of Saint Benedict is welcome proof of the Catholic schools’ “acknowledging queer students exist.”

But tensions endure here and at many of the hundreds of U.S. Catholic and Protestant universities. The Christian teachings they ascribe to are different from wider societal values over gender identity and sexual orientation, because they assert that God created humans in unchangeable male and female identities, and sex should only happen within the marriage of a man and a woman.

“The ambivalence toward genuine care is clouded by Jesus-y attitudes. Like ‘Love your neighbor’ has an asterisk,” Fisher said that late fall evening.

Most of the 200 Catholic institutions serving nearly 900,000 students have made efforts to be welcoming while staying true to their mission as Catholic ministries, said the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

Among Protestant institutions, a few are pushing the envelope, and most are hoping to stay out of the messiness, said John Hawthorne, a retired Christian college sociology professor and administrator.

“Denominations won’t budge, so colleges will need to lead the way,” Hawthorne added. Otherwise, they might not survive, because students are used to values far different from churches’ teachings, as highlighted by last week’s Senate passage of legislation to protect same-sex marriage.

“Today’s college freshman was born in 2004, the year Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage,” Hawthorne said, suggesting there might not be enough conservative students in the future for some of the universities to survive.

The consequences extend beyond the experiences of current students, many of whom enroll not because of faith but academics, athletics or scholarships. Some will likely become church leaders in an already divided society, where the recent shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado was only the latest reminder of the threats against that community.

The majority of Christian colleges and universities list “sexual orientation” in their nondiscrimination statements, and half also include “gender identity” – far more than did so in 2013, said Jonathan Coley, a sociologist at Oklahoma State University who maintains a Christian higher education database of policies toward LGBTQ students.

But translating that into practice creates tensions affecting most campus life, including enrollment at single-gender institutions, housing, restroom design and pronoun use.

Backlash follows from opposing corners: At some conservative schools, some students and faculty have filed discrimination complaints, while at more affirming institutions, some parents and clergy argue that approach doesn’t align with their mission.

“We have to learn to live with this tension,” said the Rev. Donal Godfrey, chaplain at the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit institution in a city with a history of LGBTQ rights advocacy and a conservative Catholic archbishop opposed to same-sex marriage.

New Ways Ministry, which advocates for LGBTQ Catholics, keeps a list of over 130 Catholic colleges it considers LGBTQ-friendly because they provide public affirmation, including courses and clubs, said its director, Francis DeBernardo.

“Catholic colleges and universities were … and still are the most LGBTQ-friendly places in the church in the United States,” DeBernardo added.

The Cardinal Newman Society, which advocates for fidelity to church teachings on all Catholic education issues, maintains its own list of recommended schools, a little more than a dozen the organization considers “faithful.”

“For these colleges, being ‘Catholic’ is not a watered-down brand or historical tradition,” Newman president Patrick Reilly said via email.

Other campus leaders see tension in Catholic teachings, which tend to skew conservative on human sexuality but progressive on social justice.

Even Pope Francis, who seemed to nod toward change when he remarked “who am I to judge?” about gay priests, more recently approved the refusal of blessings for same-sex unions.

“It’s kind of a tightrope,” said John Scarano, campus ministry director at John Carroll University, a Jesuit school near Cleveland with “safe zone trainings” as part of its ministry to LGBTQ students.

When parents and prospective students come to him undecided between John Carroll and Franciscan University, 100 miles away in Steubenville, Ohio, Scarano tells them, “Here, your Catholicism is going to be challenged” by different perspectives.

At the Franciscan-run school, “we don’t move away from the truth of the human person as discovered in Scripture, the tradition of the Church, and the teaching authority of the Church — this is our mooring, and we believe that to follow Christ is to be faithful to the Church’s teachings,” said the Rev. Jonathan St. Andre, a senior university leader.

The Steubenville institution strives to develop students’ “healthy sense of the gift of their human sexuality,” he added via email – but with no tolerance for harassment of those who disagree.

Students’ safety is a priority, said Mary Geller, the associate provost who oversees student affairs for the 3,000 undergraduates at Saint John’s and Saint Benedict, the single-sex institutions in Minnesota.

“We’re set up in the binary, but we know there are people coming to us who don’t live in the binary,” Geller said. They now admit students based on the gender they identify with, and consider transfers for those who transition.

That has enraged a few parents, like a father complaining “that we have students with male body parts in a female dorm,” Geller recalled. “I just said, ‘Sir, I don’t check body parts.’”

With the help of legal advocates, some students at evangelical and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints schools are suing.

Last year, 33 LGBTQ students or former students at federally funded Christian schools filed a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, claiming the department’s religious exemption allows schools that receive federal dollars to unconstitutionally discriminate against LGBTQ students. The plaintiffs have grown to more than 40.

In May, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights launched a separate investigation for alleged violations of the rights of LGBTQ students at six Christian universities — including Liberty University.

The independent evangelical university is one of several that have greatly expanded their rules prohibiting students from identifying as LGBTQ or advocating for such identities.

Liberty forbids LGBTQ affinity clubs, same-sex displays of affection, and use of pronouns, restrooms and changing facilities not corresponding to a person’s birth sex. As of this year, its student handbook, called “The Liberty Way,” bans statements and behaviors associated with what it calls “LGBT states of mind.”

“Liberty is very anti-gay,” said Sydney Windsor, a senior there who first decided to attend Liberty to quash her sexual attraction for women and now identifies as pansexual. “I found friendships ending and me getting bad grades because of differing opinions or things I said or posted. It’s years of irreversible trauma.”

At some evangelical schools, the argument has now moved from fighting over student’s sexual and gender equality to fighting for LGBTQ diversity in faculty and staff hiring.

This year, Eastern University, located in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, and affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA, amended its policies to allow for the hiring of faculty in same-sex marriages — one of only a handful of evangelical schools to do so.

“If we can get faculty to come out and to have queer people openly represented on campus, that would be really big,” said Faith Jeanette Millender, an Eastern University student who identifies as bisexual or queer and is active in the school’s LGBTQ group.

A high-stakes clash between students, faculty and the school’s board of trustees over hiring LGBTQ faculty is unfolding at Seattle Pacific University, a 131-year-old school affiliated with the Free Methodist Church.

The faculty held a vote of no-confidence in the board, one-third of which is appointed by the denomination, because it insists on keeping the policy barring people in same-sex relationships from full-time positions. Faculty and students have also sued the board in Washington State Superior Court for breaching its fiduciary duty, arguing the policy threatens to harm SPU’s reputation, worsen an already shrinking enrollment and possibly jeopardize its future.

“This entrenchment around human sexuality feels so incongruent with the on-campus experience and what we teach our students,” said Lynnette Bikos, professor and chair of SPU’s clinical psychology department and a plaintiff in the suit against the board.

Chloe Guillot, a 22-year-old graduate student at SPU who is one of 16 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the school, said it was a matter of social justice.

“I’m wrestling with my own identity and I know how much Christianity has brought harm to communities, whether its people of color, women, or LGBTQ people,” Guillot said. “I have a responsibility to step into those spaces and be willing to fight back. As someone who is a Christian we need to hold ourselves accountable.”

In late November, a group of students and faculty decorated several campus buildings with rainbow-colored Christmas lights.

The administration has responded to one of the suits in a court filing saying that it expects students and faculty to “affirm the University’s statement of faith, and to abide by its lifestyle expectations, which together shape the vision and mission of the institution.”

Kathryn Lee, who came out as lesbian last year, while still a professor at Whitworth University, an evangelical school in Spokane, Washington, said debates over LGBTQ issues will persist for years.

“What’s unfortunate in my view is that in some people’s minds how do you define Christian education and it will be, ‘Oh, where are they on LGBTQ?’” she said. “I find that tragic.”

To students like Fisher in Minnesota, concrete actions will show if LGBTQ people can truly be welcomed on Christian campuses.

There are still too many incidents. Ryan Imm, a Saint John’s University junior and QPLUS leader who identifies as gay, recalled an anti-LGBTQ slur used on his residential floor. Sitting together in the QPLUS lounge, both students pointed to signs of hope — like the popular drag show at Saint Benedict.

“It’s almost like people forget there’s dissonance,” Imm said.

Complete Article HERE!