Catholic Officials in Brooklyn Agree to an Independent Oversight of Clergy Sex Abuse Allegations

— An independent monitor will oversee the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn’s handling of sexual abuse allegations under a settlement between the diocese and New York Attorney General Letitia James

By Associated Press

An independent monitor will oversee the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn’s handling of sexual abuse allegations under a settlement between the diocese and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The agreement announced Tuesday will address “years of mismanaging clergy sexual abuse cases,” James said.

Investigators with the attorney general’s office found that officials with the diocese failed to comply with their own sex abuse policies put in place after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002.

In one case, the attorney general said, a priest who admitted that he had repeatedly sexually abused minors was defrocked in 2007 but requested confidentiality. The diocese kept the abuse secret until 2017 when it announced for the first time that this priest had been credibly accused of and admitted to abusing children. The priest worked as a professor at two universities in the intervening decade.

Another priest was transferred from parish to parish after diocesan officials learned of problems with his conduct in the 1990s, James said. A nun who was the principal of a school in the diocese quit her job in 2000 because she had witnessed the priest behaving inappropriately with young boys, but the diocese only issued a warning. The priest was not removed from duty or barred from interacting with minors until 2018, James said.

As part of the settlement, the diocese has agreed to strengthen its procedures for handling allegations of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct, including publicly posting an explanation of the complaint and investigation process.

An independent, secular monitor who will oversee the diocese’s compliance with the enhanced policies and procedures and will issue an annual report on the diocese’s handling of sexual abuse cases.

Officials with the diocese, which includes the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, said they have cooperated with investigators and have worked to prevent future instances of abuse by clergy.

Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan, who has led the diocese since 2021, said in a statement, “While the Church should have been a sanctuary, I am deeply sorry that it was a place of trauma for the victims of clergy sexual abuse. I pray God’s healing power will sustain them.”

The attorney general’s office began investigating eight of New York’s Catholic dioceses in September 2018. A settlement with the Diocese of Buffalo was announced in October 2022. Investigations into the other dioceses, including those in Rochester, Albany and Syracuse, are ongoing, James said.

American Solidarity

— Reflections on a changing Catholic Church

Cardinal Robert W. McElroy

by Nell Porter Brown

Like many Americans during this fractious election year, Cardinal Robert W. McElroy ’76 has been focused on politics and the state of the country. “We can idealize, as if times in the past were all graced with tremendous solidarity,” he says. “But I think we are in a profound moment of crisis on that question in our society. Individualism is corrosive from both ends of the political and ideological spectrum. And we have to really recover a sense of common identity, common purpose and mission on certain fundamental levels.”

A lifelong Catholic and a close collaborator of Pope Francis since 2022, McElroy’s approach to ministering is based in the more practical pastoral theology than a strict rule-bound Catholicism. It’s also been shaped by studying American history at Harvard, earning doctoral degrees in moral theology and political science, and experiences as a young priest in San Francisco during the AIDS epidemic. All have been integral to his longstanding push for greater social inclusion, in society and within the Church. Solidarity, he says, is “the principle that all of us are beneficiaries of the society to which we belong, and everyone has an obligation to all the members.”

That cohesion informed his childhood. He grew up with four siblings in San Mateo County (south of San Francisco) in a neighborhood that revolved around the thriving local parish. McElroy recognized his calling as a boy and studied at a high school seminary. Ordained in 1980, he was soon ministering in San Francisco and ultimately spent 15 rewarding years as the pastor at St. Gregory Church in San Mateo. He had always hoped to spend his life in parish ministry “because it is so directly rooted in the hearts and souls of real people,” he says. But Church leaders, valuing his intellect, tapped him for larger roles, and when he was appointed auxiliary bishop in 2010, he knew the rest of his life in the Church “would be rooted in pastoral service to my diocese and in contributing to the global dialogue about the Church’s future, both in its internal life and its outreach to the world.” In 2015 Pope Francis appointed him bishop of San Diego—where he oversees 96 parishes and a community of 1.4 million Catholics—and then appointed him to the College of Cardinals.

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Cardinal McElroy processing into St Peter’s Basilica for his official appointment as a cardinal in August 2022

That has meant continuing the duties of bishop but also spending more time in Rome and supporting the pope’s vision, especially his global Synod on Synodality, a multi-year process of reform that began in 2022. This “listening and dialogue” via meetings, following the Second Vatican Council’s proposed “renewal,” brings Catholics together to discern unified paths forward. McElroy, always a broad thinker, is integral to the pope’s efforts to effect changes in the Church—among them, more “accompaniment and support for” the LGBTQ+ community, lay leaders, and the role of women—that have been welcomed by many, but also vociferously opposed by other Church leaders, both in Rome and in the United States.

It is an extraordinary and pivotal time for the Church. Most Catholics “admire and cherish” Pope Francis, McElroy says: They agree with his focus on pastoral theology, “his notion that the Church is a field hospital bringing healing to souls, all in need of grace and support from one another, not condemnation.” Nevertheless, on issues like climate change, economic justice, poverty, LGBTQ+ rights, and war and peace, “The ideological polarization that cripples our society at this moment shapes divergent responses to the pope’s teachings,” he adds. “Many bishops who oppose the direction in which Pope Francis is leading the Church worry that his pastoral approach undermines the dedication to truth that is part of Catholic faith. Francis tells us that for the Christian, truth is not an idea, but a person—Jesus Christ—who calls us to conversion in love and mercy.”

The same political tribalism that’s “sapping our energy as a people and endangering our democracy…has entered destructively into the life of the Church.”

McElroy influences the reform process in person, but also through articles and speeches. America Magazine (led by the Jesuits) published an article headlined “Cardinal McElroy on ‘Radical Inclusion’ for L.G.T.B. People, Women, and Others, in the Catholic Church,” in which he addresses feedback from the synodal dialogues. He asserted that the same political tribalism that “is sapping our energy as a people and endangering our democracy…has entered destructively into the life of the Church.” The need to reform “our own structures of exclusion,” he concludes, “will require a long pilgrimage of sustained prayer, reflection, dialogue, and action—all of which should begin now.”

Just as crucial, however, he says, are the continuing issues of abortion and climate change, especially in this election year. He’s deeply concerned about forces threatening the fate of “democratic institutions, the Constitution, and the role of law. Catholic teaching has a particular perspective that those institutions are important.” The global escalation of violence—he has consistently called for a cease-fire in Gaza—is disturbing “not just for us as a country, but for so many people who get victimized by war,” he notes. “And our participation in it is such an important moral question.” He laments that conflict is so easily sown, and that civil conversation and disagreement, nearly impossible across partisan and ideological lines, impedes functional progress. Social media, despite their advantages, share considerable blame for that: “We move more and more into our own feedback loops, those we are comfortable with, and we think ‘Oh yeah, everyone agrees with me.’ It’s a huge problem.”

Seeking exposure to fresh and diverse perspectives led McElroy to choose a college outside of the Church—specifically, Harvard and its renowned history department. In 1972, never having traveled east of Nevada, he formed a close circle of friends (two of whom traveled to Rome to watch him become a member of the College of Cardinals), concentrated in American history, and graduated in three years.

Especially formative was “Themes in Comparative World Social History” taught by Loeb University Professor Oscar Handlin, the pioneering historian of American immigration. McElroy says that only four students took the year-long seminar because Handlin required them to read four books a week (no trouble for McElroy, who had taken a speed-reading course). “The other students could also do it and were really bright and interesting,” he says. “Their perspectives on everything were just enlightening to me. And Handlin? He had an encyclopedic knowledge of everything.” When McElroy had to write a paper on comparing nineteenth-century miscegenation laws in Brazil and Virginia, Handlin recommended three or four books, “just off the top of his head,” he recalls, “and they were the best books on the topic. And he did that with everyone in the class.” The depth and intensity of learning were thrilling, and spawned not only McElroy’s enduring interest in immigration but his continuing prioritizing of the Church’s role in aiding migrants and refugees.

Aside from classes, two shows of solidarity on campus also stand out. First: the legal drinking age was lowered to 18, which led “to the largest block party all over the place,” McElroy says, laughing. The second, more sobering, was the agreement that ostensibly ended American participation in the Vietnam War. “That was a moment of great thanksgiving and gratitude from the whole community because we had been facing the reality of the draft, for one thing, and the tragedy of the war for so many people as a whole. The University came together and there was a sense of unity.”

McElroy went on to earn a master’s degree in American history from Stanford, then a master’s in divinity from St. Patrick’s Seminary in 1979 before he was ordained. Among his other degrees are two doctorates (in political science from Stanford and in moral theology from the Gregorian University in Rome), both of which yielded books: The Search for an American Public Theology: The Contribution of John Courtney Murray (1989) and Morality and American Foreign Policy: The Role of Ethics in International Affairs (1992).

Academic work has always fed his mind—and his spirit. “Harvard honed my ability to write with greater clarity and elegance,” he says, and “the level of passion and self-assurance (sometimes justified and sometimes not) in the debates on myriad subjects that we had in the classroom, the dining hall at Mather House, or at parties taught me a great deal about speaking and listening and genuinely learning amidst all the bravado.” The combined experiences of Harvard, Stanford, and the seminary “introduced me to a wide diversity of human experiences, cultures, and social environments. Hopefully, this created in me a greater empathy, a willingness to listen, and an understanding that my own experience was just a small microcosm of the human reality in our world.”

That certainly came to bear while serving as a young priest in the 1980s at Saint Cecilia Church in San Francisco, where he was also secretary (and later vicar general) to Archbishop John R. Quinn, a leader in the Church’s stands on war and peace, poverty, and racial justice. As early as 1983, Quinn reached out to gay Catholics and supported a Castro neighborhood parish that held vigils for HIV-positive parishioners and their caregivers. McElroy co-wrote a diocesan report stating that homosexuality is not held to be a sinful condition and that homosexuals should be helped to follow the principle of “gradualism”: “the notion that Jesus called men and women as they were in real lives and recognized that their call to enflesh the gospel was a lifelong project,” he explains now. He also remembers visiting parishioners—“young people dying of this terrible and unknown disease. And very often their families refused to embrace them in their illness. I think it was then that I began to seek ways to show that LGBTQ+ persons are truly, equally members of the Catholic Church and that all dimensions and attitudes of exclusion should end.”

Throughout his cherished years as a parish pastor—the role he originally sought as a boy with a calling—he was moved and nurtured by “the way in which people allowed you into their lives to walk their journey with them.” Back then, he was sometimes asked if he ever got tired of listening to people’s problems. The answer was, and is, no. “It was inspiring…and you saw how difficult it was but how heroically so many people strive to live as they should.” To be let into others’ anguish is a privilege, he agrees, “and priests must be careful in presenting the image of God in a way that’s proper, too. The God who embraces us, who loves, is not diminished by our failures.”

Complete Article HERE!

Long Island diocese to end bankruptcy without sex abuse deal

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A Catholic diocese in Long Island, New York has asked a judge to end its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, after failing to get support from about 530 sex abuse survivors on a proposed $200 million settlement of their claims against the diocese.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, which serves about 1.2 million Catholics in Nassau and Suffolk counties, said on Friday that its bankruptcy had “run its course” after abuse survivors “overwhelmingly” voted against the diocese’s offer.

“The Diocese sincerely hoped that its offer of $200 million—in addition to very substantial insurance assets—would be accepted by the creditors,” the diocese wrote in a motion to dismiss filed in U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan.

James Stang, an attorney representing abuse survivors in the bankruptcy, said that the diocese’s failure to reach a deal was “unprecedented.”

In other Catholic bankruptcies, abuse survivors were allowed to propose their own bankruptcy settlement instead of being offered a binary choice between the diocese’s plan or nothing, Stang said.

The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York in October 2020, citing the cost of lawsuits filed by childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse. New York’s Child Victims Act, which took effect in August 2020, temporarily enabled victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits over decades-old crimes.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn is scheduled to hear the diocese’s request to dismiss its case on May 9.

Glenn warned last year that he would dismiss the case if settlement talks continued to stagnate, but he said he was not eager to be the first judge to kick a Catholic diocese out of bankruptcy.

Talks broke down in part over the diocese’s plan to protect all of its parishes and local affiliates from lawsuits as part of the bankruptcy settlement. Abuse survivors said those local organizations had not contributed enough money to the settlement to warrant the legal protections they would have received.

Stang said on Monday that a bankruptcy settlement could still be reached if the diocese makes its proposal more attractive to abuse survivors. Survivors might be more inclined to vote for a deal with better economics or non-monetary concessions, like an apology and pledge to protect children from abuse in the future.

“We think the parishes can afford to pay much more and still maintain their religious mission,” Stang said.

The diocese said that it had spent over $106 million on attorneys and other bankruptcy professionals since filing for Chapter 11, including $33 million to the attorneys representing abuse survivors.

If the bankruptcy is dismissed, abuse survivors would be free to continue their lawsuits against the diocese in New York state courts.

Richard Tollner, who chaired the official committee representing abuse survivors in the bankruptcy, said that the dismissal would send a strong message to other debtors who are “using bankruptcy to avoid accountability before state court juries.”

“If your plan does not have the support of the survivors’ creditors’ committee, your reorganization plan will fail,” Tollner said in a statement.

In re The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 20-12345.

For Rockville Centre: Corinne Ball and Todd Geremia of Jones Day

For the creditors committee: James Stang of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones

Complete Article HERE!

Priest accused of sex assaults against children in Nunavut dies in France

— “Joannès Rivoire left a legacy of intimidation, fear and horror to his victims. His victims will now begin healing from his death,” Inuk elder says.

MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq holds a photo of Joannès Rivoire during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Thursday, July 8, 2021. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate says Rivoire, a priest accused of sexually abusing Inuit children in Nunavut, has died after a long illness.

By Brittany Hobson

A priest accused of sexually abusing Inuit children in Nunavut decades ago has died in France after a long, undisclosed illness.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate, including the Oblates of Lacombe Canada and the Oblate Province of France, say Joannès Rivoire died Thursday. He was in his 90s.

Rev. Ken Thorson with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe Canada says the death may be difficult news for those who advocated for the priest to face justice in Canada.

“We sincerely regret that … Rivoire never made himself available and will never face the charges that were laid against him. We further regret that efforts for him to be formally removed as a priest were unsuccessful,” he said in an emailFriday.

A recent independent review of the claims against Rivoire supported allegations that the priest assaulted six children in Nunavut.

Rivoire arrived in Canada in 1959. He stayed in the North until January 1993, when he told superiors he needed to return to France to take care of his elderly parents.

That same month, four people went to the RCMP in Nunavut to accuse Rivoire of sexual assaults.

Rivoire refused to return to Canada after an arrest warrant was issued in 1998. He faced at least three charges of sexual abuse in the Nunavut communities of Arviat, Rankin Inlet and Naujaat. More than two decades later, the charges were stayed.

Another arrest warrant was issued for Rivoire in 2022 for a charge of indecent assault involving a girl in Arviat and Whale Cove between 1974 and 1979. French authorities refused an extradition request.

Rivoire denied all allegations against him and none were proven in court.

Inuit leaders and politicians, from senators to Nunavut premiers, spent years urging that the priest should face trial, with some taking their fight to Parliament Hill and Lyon, France, where Rivoire lived.

Piita Irniq, an Inuk elder and former politician who fought for more than a decade to have Rivoire returned to Canada, said in a message to The Canadian Press that he was notified Friday morning of Rivoire’s death.

“Rivoire left a legacy of intimidation, fear and horror to his victims. His victims will now begin healing from his death.”

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a national organization representing Inuit across Canada, called the case a systemic failure of nation states and religious institutions.

Natan Obed, the organization’s president, met with Pope Francis in 2022 and asked him to intervene in the case.

The group said in a statement that Inuit have done everything to help bring justice, but in the end it was not enough.

“Our thoughts are with the many victims … and the many victims of abusers who continue to elude justice,” it said.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., a group that represents Nunavut Inuit, said in a statement it’s disappointing Rivoire didn’t have to answer to the charges against him.

“NTI assisted in the efforts of victims and their families seeking justice and will continue to stand with them now that Rivoire has died,” it said.

“Governments must do better to support victims of abuse and in bringing perpetrators of violence against children to justice.”

Rivoire was banned from public ministry after the Oblates said they first learned of criminal proceedings against him. The Oblates in both Canada and France repeatedly urged Rivoire to face the charges, but he refused.

Some believed the Oblates played a role in his departure for France. The independent review, led by retired Superior Court justice Andre Denis, found no evidence the church was aware of any allegations or helped the priest leave.

Denis said it’s possible rumours about the priest’s behaviour are why he left, but there was no evidence.

The Oblates in Canada and France also appealed to leadership in Rome to commence dismissal proceedings against Rivoire. Earlier this year, it was determined the priest could remain a member of the congregation.

Thorson said Friday the Oblates will continue to offer support for complainants and their families in the next chapter of their healing process.

“We wish to apologize unequivocally to anyone who was harmed by Rivoire … our prayers are with the Inuit community and anyone who is still processing this news.”

Complete Article HERE!

The Vatican’s Statement on Gender Is Unsurprising, and a Missed Opportunity

— A new document that strives to reconsider matters of human dignity nevertheless echoes Church rhetoric from decades ago.

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The arc of Vatican rhetoric on sexual issues is long, and it doesn’t bend much at all. On October 30, 1986, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a letter to bishops, “On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,” which was signed by the office’s prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In 1975, the C.D.F., formerly known as the Holy Office, had made a distinction between the homosexual “condition” and homosexual acts, calling the latter “intrinsically disordered.” A result, the 1986 letter lamented, was that in the following years “an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good.” Then the C.D.F. got to the main point: “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder” and as “essentially self-indulgent.” The October 30th document came to be known as the Halloween Letter. At a grim moment in the aids pandemic, the Catholic Church, with an opportunity to show compassion to gay men, instead used terse, forbidding language to reaffirm its teaching against gay sexual activity and “the homosexual condition itself.”

Much has changed in the Church’s approach in the thirty-eight years since. The U.S. bishops eventually issued a statement framed as “a response to the H.I.V./aids crisis,” taking a kinder, gentler tone than that of the C.D.F. letter. Lesbians and gay men, including the Catholic writer Andrew Sullivan, initiated a movement for gay marriage, and it gained force, with gay marriage eventually becoming recognized by the U.S. government, and by nations worldwide. Pope Francis, four months after his election, in 2013, said, of gay clergymen, “Who am I to judge?” He spoke approvingly of civil protections for a gay couple in a 2019 interview with a Mexican broadcaster. He met with transgender women in St. Peter’s Square and received them again at a luncheon in the Vatican. In October, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, or D.D.F.—an office that replaced the C.D.F., as part of a reorganization of the Roman curia—answered a Brazilian bishop’s query by affirming that transgender people can be baptized and can serve as godparents “under certain conditions.” In December, the D.D.F. issued “Fiducia Supplicans,” a document authorizing priests to bless people living in “irregular situations” and “couples of the same sex.” Catholic traditionalists decried the document; a group of bishops in Africa issued a joint statement saying that they would not allow such blessings in their dioceses. Yet, through all this, the Vatican did not alter its official characterization of homosexuality as an “objective disorder,” nor its declaration (found in “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” from 1992) that “everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity”—the biological sex he or she is born with, that is.

When Francis was elected, the doctrinal office was run by Archbishop Gerhard Müller, a traditionalist who had been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI—the former Cardinal Ratzinger. Müller eventually set himself against the new Pope, suggesting, for example, that Francis’s apparent solicitude, in the 2016 apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” toward Catholics who divorced and remarried was at odds with Church teaching. In 2017, Francis declined to renew Müller’s appointment, and promoted his deputy, Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, a Spanish Jesuit. Finally, last July, after the D.D.F. was reorganized, Francis appointed his own close associate, Víctor Manuel Fernández, a fellow-Argentine who was then an archbishop, to lead it. In a public letter to the new prefect, Francis warned against a “desk-bound theology” infused with “a cold and harsh logic that seeks to dominate everything.” He urged the D.D.F. to be open to fresh “currents of thought in philosophy, theology, and pastoral practice” and stressed that the office must maintain Catholic doctrine, “but not as an enemy who critiques and condemns.” Francis made Fernández a cardinal in September. In October, the Vatican hosted a monthlong Synod on Synodality assembly, which brought some four hundred and fifty Church leaders from around the world to Rome, to take part in daily sessions meant to foster a “listening” and “discerning” Church. The synod process (which began in local churches worldwide in 2021) was promoted as a key initiative of Francis’s pontificate, and as a new way of proceeding for the Vatican.

This Monday, the D.D.F. released “Dignitas Infinita,” a document, five years in preparation, about “the dignity of the human person in Christian anthropology.” Its release was expected, and it was characterized by the press as unsurprising—“something of a repackaging of previously articulated Vatican positions, read now through the prism of human dignity,” as Nicole Winfield, an Associated Press correspondent based in Rome, put it. The document reiterates the Church’s stands against abortion and euthanasia, and amplifies its opposition to surrogate motherhood and what it calls “sex change” procedures. But, for the first time in a document of this stature, it groups those practices with broader phenomena that the Church opposes, such as war, economic inequality, human trafficking, “the marginalization of people with disabilities,” cruelty to migrants, violence against women, sexual abuse, and the death penalty, among others. According to Fernández, last November Pope Francis urged the office to make the document present issues connected to matters of human dignity, the personal and the social, as parts of a whole—a striking departure from the Church’s way of framing issues involving the body in terms of individual moral conduct. This approach has upset many for seeming to establish false equivalences. But the document has been praised in the Catholic press: the news site Crux saw it “uniting Pope Francis’s progressive social agenda with the traditional moral and ethical concerns of his predecessors.

The document is thick with citations of past statements by Francis, Benedict, and Pope John Paul II. Building on last December’s blessing of “couples of the same sex,” it affirms the Church’s opposition to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But it complains that “the concept of human dignity is occasionally misused to justify an arbitrary proliferation of new rights.” It denounces “gender theory” for seeking to obscure, or do away with, the “foundational” quality of “sexual difference,” which belongs to the body created “in the image of God,” and it rejects any “sex-change intervention,” insisting that respect for one’s humanity must begin with respect for the body “as it was created.”

While “Dignitas Infinita” is the most important statement to be issued by the D.D.F. under the new prefect, it is best seen as a final expression of the old C.D.F.’s admonitory approach. For example, the fresh social emphasis Francis evidently sought to give it by grouping sex and gender with affronts to human dignity serves instead to point up the offhand, ad-hominem quality of its remarks on gender identity. Consider this passage: “Desiring a personal self-determination, as gender theory prescribes . . . amounts to a concession to the age-old temptation to make oneself God, entering into competition with the true love of God revealed to us in the Gospel.” In the nearly twelve-thousand-word text, that passage stands out both for its extreme rhetoric and its denunciation of individual behavior. It comes amid a dense, footnoted passage about the interaction of gender theory and human rights; suddenly the reader is presented with a citation-free sketch of an abstract individual, as imagined by a curial official. This individual is not credited with any effort of reflection or discernment—not seen as striving to join the physical and social aspects of personhood to the inward person (which some trans people identify as the God-given person), or as seeking to reconcile body and soul, as Christian believers have always sought to do. This individual is simply said to be succumbing to the temptation “to make oneself God.” Thus gender identity, whose complexities call for a complex response informed by emerging currents of thought, is fit into the Vatican’s textbook critique of post-Enlightenment social movements, and reduced to one more iteration of individual self-determination run amok—the way the Vatican characterized gay life a generation ago.

At a press conference about the new document, when Winfield from the A.P. asked Cardinal Fernández whether the Church might consider withdrawing the term “intrinsically disordered,” the prefect admitted that the phrase “needs to be explained a lot” and added, “Perhaps we could find a clearer expression.” Indeed, the arc that the Vatican’s approach to homosexuality has taken in the past four decades—from a “condition” to be dealt with to a way of being that can be blessed—might have prompted the D.D.F.’s theologians, as they give greater attention to gender-identity issues, to consider adopting some nuance and a stance of humility toward them.

Fortunately, there is an opportunity for the Vatican to really change its approach. At last October’s Synod gathering, participants discussed sex and gender intermittently, but their comments were largely kept out of the summary document, which emphasized procedural matters. This October, the participants will return to Rome for another month of collective listening and discernment. This time, gender identity should be firmly on the agenda. With that singular passage in the new document, the Vatican has put it there.

Complete Article HERE!