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.


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.

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Vatican to publish document on gender, surrogacy and human dignity next week

By Nicole Winfield

The Vatican will publish a document next week on gender theory and surrogacy that was announced in a bid to respond to opposition from conservatives over Pope Francis’ willingness to bless same-sex unions.

Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, will hold his first news conference to present the document “Infinite Dignity, on human dignity,” on April 8, the Vatican announced Tuesday.

Fernández, who is very close to Francis, revealed the declaration was in the works after he came under criticism for the roll-out of a December document from his office authorizing priests to offer non-liturgical blessings to same-sex couples.

Conservative bishops, including entire national bishops conferences in Africa, blasted the document as contrary to biblical teaching about homosexuality and said they wouldn’t implement it.

Fernández, who is from Argentina, has said in various media interviews since then that the new document will offer a strong critique of “immoral tendencies” in society today, including surrogacy, sex changes and gender theory.

While Francis has made a hallmark of his papacy to reach out to LGBTQ+ people, he has also strongly denounced what he calls “gender ideology.” He has in particular railed against what he says is the tendency of Western countries to impose their values about gender and sexuality on the developing world as a condition for economic aid.

Francis has also called for a global ban on surrogacy, saying the practice exploits the economic needs of the surrogate mother and violates the dignity of mother and child.

Despite church prohibitions, Catholics still choose IVF to have children

The Catholic Church officially opposes in vitro fertilization, yet many Catholics don’t view IVF as morally wrong.


After first meeting while in Catholic high school, Erin and Mickey Whitford dated for 12 years: through college, grad school and early into their careers. Then, three years ago, the Cleveland couple married.

“We did make a promise to ourselves in front of our whole congregation at our wedding that we were going to accept children and love them and raise them Catholic,” Erin says. “It just seems that our journey is a little different.”

Different because Mickey, due to a genetic condition, has a low sperm count.

“We had tested the other options as much as we could,” Mickey says. “And we knew that it was more important for us to bring life into this world than to get the OK from someone on how to do so.”

Meaning they knew about the Catholic Church’s objection to in vitro fertilization but decided to use the procedure anyway.

“We prayed,” Erin says. “We talked to each other. We talked to our families.”

Doctors created three embryos that the couple could use to have children.

“One is obviously inside me now about to be born in the next month,” says Erin, as she smiles and places her hand on her stomach.

Erin and Mickey plan to use the other embryos in the coming years to grow their family. But they did have to tell their fertility specialists what should become of the embryos if they end up not using them. The Whitfords decided to donate them for medical research.

“Our intent is solely to bring life into this world,” Mickey says. “We understand the few points that the church has around separating the conjugal act from the creation of life. And trust us that if things could have been that way we would have wanted it to be that way as well.”

IVF raises concerns about what is natural and what is moral

Religious objections to in vitro fertilization came into sharp focus after the Alabama Supreme Court afforded frozen embryos the same legal protections as children. While many religious groups in the U.S. have no specific prohibition to the procedure, the Catholic Church clearly opposes it. But many Catholic couples turn to IVF despite their church’s teaching.

The Catholic Church has two main objections to IVF.

“Procreation is intrinsic to the physical union of the couple,” says Roberto Dell’Oro, professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and director of the school’s Bioethics Institute. He says the first objection to IVF is that it manipulates what should be a natural process.

“In this case manipulation of human life for the sake of the desire of a child,” he says, “but one in which the end does not justify the means.”

Because IVF usually creates more embryos than the couple needs or wants, Dell’Oro says the church’s chief moral objection is what becomes of those “extra” embryos. Often they are kept frozen for years, but then discarded when a couple decides to not have more children. Other times, those additional embryos are donated to scientific research.

“Though embryos should not be looked at as children,” says Dell’Oro, “they should, however, be seen as having the promise of life that develops into a child.”

Conscience is a guiding principle for reproductive decisions

It’s a conundrum for Catholics with fertility problems who want to have children and want to abide by their church’s teachings. But the church has a variety of teachings about reproduction, and for many the issue has become which church teaching to uphold.

“The church takes motherhood very seriously,” says Jamie Manson, president of Catholics for Choice, a group that advocates for abortion rights and other forms of reproductive health care, including IVF.

“But the church also creates shame for the very people who are trying to do what the church says it wants them to do, which is have children and create families,” she says.

Manson worries that shame leads people away from the Catholic Church. She’d like to see congregations support couples during the religious questions and emotional stresses that arise during infertility.

And in the end, if a couple decides to use IVF to help them have children, Manson says that decision should be considered a valid and defensible religious choice.

“Conscience is a core tenant of the Catholic faith,” she says. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very, very specific. It says in all that we say and do, we must have our individual conscience as our guide, and that it’s our individual conscience that must determine what is just and right.”

One’s conscience, of course, is formed in large part by the teachings of one’s religion. But it is also informed by reason, emotion and experience. Data show that while the Catholic Church teaches one thing, the practice and belief of Catholics is quite another.

A Pew Research survey in 2023 found that 55% of white, non-Hispanic Catholics say they or someone they know personally have used fertility treatments. And according to a 2013 Pew survey, just 13% of U.S. Catholics believe in vitro fertilization is morally wrong.

Fertility treatments could be considered gifts from God

More than two decades ago, suburban Minneapolis couple Heidi and Dan Niziolek decided to start a family with the help of IVF.

“We got married a little bit later in life,” Heidi says. “We both knew that we wanted to have children and we were up against a clock.”

Dan is a lifelong Catholic. Heidi joined the church when they married.

“We wanted children out of love to really bring up and nourish and love and have,” Dan says. “The entire way it was really all about that.”

As they began IVF treatments, the couple asked their congregation to pray for them during a difficult time. But Heidi, who’s a registered nurse, says they did not ask their priest for approval.

“It really, really kind of makes me feel very nauseated to have people that are not in the medical profession telling people going through this process that there’s something wrong with it,” she says.

The couple speaks tenderly of the entire process, from meeting with the fertility specialists to the actual appointment at which doctors implanted two embryos.

“The nurses and doctors were extremely caring and loving,” Dan says.

“They turned down the lights,” Heidi says. “It was sort of romantic. There was wine.”

“They had us choose the music we wanted playing,” Dan says. The couple picked Enya’s song “Only Time.”

“We didn’t have sex, but it was very intimate,” Heidi says.

“A beautiful moment,” Dan says.

Their decision to have kids with the help of the procedure was deeply shaped, says Dan, by Catholic values — values the couple gives thanks for every time they think about their now 22-year-old twins — a boy and a girl they consider gifts from God.

“If this isn’t about love, if this is not about compassion and the commitment we’ve made and the joy we’ve had with our kids,” says Dan, “I don’t know what’s more of a miracle than that.”

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Is queer theology compatible with Catholicism?

— U.S. Catholic readers weigh in on how queer theology informs their faith.

By Caleb Murray

Growing up in a conservative evangelical church, the closest I came to understanding queer theology was in narrow, binary terms. Queer theology was theology that debated whether or not the Bible approved or disapproved of queer people. The boundary lines of queer theology mirrored other hot button issues (Abortion—good or bad? Homosexuality—good or bad?). The parameters of what counted as “queer” theology were so narrow (and laser-focused on sexual ethics) that the theological inquiry was effectively drained of all nuance; queer theology was reduced to a moral either/or.

As a straight, heterosexual teenager, I didn’t see myself in these debates, but I did have the nagging sense that—like the abortion debate—the militant my-side-is-right-ism was shortchanging a fascinating and complicated field. This leads me to an intentionally cheeky and provocative claim: There should be no “queer theology,” because all theology is queer. This statement may appear oxymoronic, self-defeating, or something else entirely. I say this not to erase a subfield of theological inquiry, but to reframe an entire field.

All theology is queer. So long as queerness stands for difference, inclusion, and creative upheaval, I will stand by my strange proclamation that all theology is, was, and will continue to be queer.

Scripture and millennia of interpretive tradition have revealed a queer God—a strange God, a mysterious God, a God of radical difference. In the incarnation, God obliterates metaphysics, mixing immanence and transcendence, spirit and matter. In the Eucharist, Catholics affirm a queer belief that accident, substance, and essence are transubstantiated. In mystical prayer, theologians have long queered and (mis)gendered the soul.

But what really is “queer?” Much like the concepts, identities, and orientations that it circumscribes, queerness is broadly and diversely defined by activists and academics alike. Difference (and difference of opinion) is all but baked into what it means to be queer and to define queer. To put it bluntly, for theorists and theologians, activists and self-identifying queer folks, queerness does not come with a one-size-fits-all definition.

Many thinkers and activists have shown how queerness might function as a creative or alternative mode of seeing and experiencing the world. Many philosophers, theologians, and gender theorists define queerness in opposition to the “norm”: For example, if heterosexuality is normative (the default social “norm”), then queerness is understood in the inverse (non-normative, countercultural, or transgressive). Such thinkers have argued quite convincingly that there’s a “problem with normal”: Try defining “normal” heterosexuality in a manner that would include every “straight” person, and you quickly realize that there is no stable category we might confidently label “normal.” Is a celibate, cisgender, heterosexual priest “normal?” Is it “unnatural” for a dad to raise his children while his wife works?

With questions such as these, one quickly realizes that there is no unitary “normal” out there. The observable reality of difference and diversity in the world pops the “normal” bubble. Queerness turns “normal” on its head and teaches us that none of us are very “normal,” and that is a good thing.

If queerness is about more than just same-sex attraction, what is queer theology? For many religious scholars, queer theology is—to put it simply and broadly—theology about queer people. As the theologian Linn Tonstad summarizes, “Queer theology [often] indicates theologies in which 1) sexuality and gender are discussed 2) in ways that affirm, represent, or apologize for queer persons.” Theologians, especially those who write and think along the lines of queer theology, ought to reaffirm the breadth of what queerness is and can be.

Queer theology isn’t just about gay and lesbian people; queer theology isn’t just about non-heterosexual sexual ethics; queer theology isn’t just about contemporary gender politics. Queer theology—if approached capaciously and with humility—is disruptive, creative, and new. Queer theology challenges us to look differently. Queer ways of thinking, inquiring, and arguing might undercut the very logic that attempts to demarcate, bracket, and contain Christian discourse. In useful, productive, or surprising ways, queer modes of knowing might destabilize rigid categories and stultifying traditions. Shouldn’t all theology do this? Doesn’t God exceed every feeble category we create? To pigeonhole queer modes of knowing to the self-contained box labeled “queer theology” is to shortchange Christian theology writ large.

To push this argument a step further, I do not think that theologians ought to merely “queer” theology by finding apologetic examples of homosocial belonging or same-sex love in church history and doctrine; they must acknowledge with humility and embrace with earnestness the possibility that Christian theology is always already queer.

Within scripture and the Christian tradition, readers may find apologetic resources, passages that affirm queer existence, and arguments of acceptance. For example, Romans 8:38 reminds us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. In Psalm 139 the poetic speaker declares that God knows everything about God’s creation, that God created humanity with love and intention, and that God will never abandon anyone. In no uncertain terms, 2 Corinthians 5:19 presents a theology of absolute forgiveness and generous reconciliation—ours is not a scorekeeping God, and in Christ God “no longer count[s] people’s sins against them.” But I am after something other than arguments of rebuttal.

To be clear, these are good resources, and I believe Bible verses that unequivocally affirm a God of infinite love and forgiveness eclipse the various passages pulled by bigots about pre-Judaic marriage law or the direction of fabric warp and weft. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. In my estimation, arguments of rebuttal represent a fraction of what queerness can do for Christian thought and practice. So, with this definition of queer in mind, is it really possible that all Christian theology is queer?

It is difficult to approach scripture and the Christian tradition from outside of “normal.” Indeed, the church has an entire category for the maintenance of normality and tradition: orthodoxy. Orthodoxy draws a line between things that are normal and things that are not—things that are inside the fold and things that are beyond the pale. However, if we try to read the Bible and experience the Christian tradition with new eyes and open hearts—our vision and attachment not yet bound by orthodoxy—we are reminded that Christianity and its sacred texts are often rather strange, abnormal, countercultural, and transgressive.

Reread the Beatitudes and they start to sound a little queer. Reconsider the Trinity and you start to see something homosocial or even homoerotic in its structure of mutuality and God’s self-desire for God’s self. Contemplate the sacred mystery, which revolves around transubstantiation, and you might catch a glimpse of an ineffable God who makes a habit of shattering our categories and expectations.

For hundreds of years Christians have gendered the soul. From medieval mystics to Protestant reformers, the male soul has often been theologized as feminine so that the soul might pursue a heterosexual union with Christ the bridegroom. If one’s sex, gender identity, and gender expression are thoroughly embodied, then it takes some mental gymnastics to “gender” the soul. Again, something queer is going on here. In order to avoid a gay spiritual union with Christ, there is a long tradition of cisgender men affirming the transgender status of their souls. Just as souls might transmigrate from earthly to heavenly bodies, the selective gendering of the embodied soul throws a queer wrench into the way things work. What is the line between material things and ideal objects? Where does spirit end and matter begin? Does the human man’s “female” soul retain its feminine identity, even after the man’s earthly, bodily death?

Queerness haunts the New Testament. Some might argue that Jesus and his male disciples share homosocial bonds—instances of camaraderie and same-sex intimacy, kisses, and declarations of love and fealty. But much of this is anachronistic, a ham-fisted projection of contemporary gender and sexuality categories onto misunderstood history.

But this cuts both ways. Categories are not static. Words and meanings shift over time. Take the creation myths for example. Genesis gives us two conflicting accounts of creation. In one telling, God creates a singular, androgynous human. In another, God creates Man and Woman. This certainly says something about the theological rigor of the “it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” polemicists who pick a few passages from Genesis while ignoring neighboring paragraphs. Queer theology should not fall for the same reductionism. Instead, queer theology should champion complicated, conflicting, and category-busting inquiry.

Queer theology isn’t about cherry-picking passages that support one’s agenda while ignoring verses that don’t. Indeed, there are passages of scripture that do not square with contemporary LGBTQ politics. I am not after a simple apologetics that “prove” the moral acceptability of certain gender identities and sexual preferences once and for all. Queer theology, as a broader project, should encourage creative, surprising, and even upsetting ways of looking at scripture and tradition.

Queerness—its categorization and its conventions, its advocates and its malcontents—has much to offer Christian thought and practice. The apologists and the bigots will continue to lob their scripture verses at each other, but it is my hope that sincere followers of Christ will listen to queerness’s countervailing promise. It is the promise of approaching things differently, seeing old ideas in a new light, reencountering ancient practices with an openness to renewed life and a future marked by greater justice, lasting peace, and unbridled love. Christ’s ministry witnesses to the queer workings of the divine. His message is and was disruptive, contrarian, and mystifying. Christ’s message to his contemporaries speaks to us today: What you take to be normal might just be average. Don’t settle, you deserve abundant life.

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Cleveland Catholic Schools Ban All LGBTQ+ Affiliation And Behaviors

— Over 100 Catholic schools in Cleveland will no longer tolerate LGBTQ+ affiliation or behaviors.

By Corinne Murdock

The changes came from new guidelines on sexuality and gender issued by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland at the close of last month. In a press release, the diocese clarified that the guidelines were a formal policy version of existing church teachings on the subject.

“Since questions of sex, sexuality, and gender identity have become increasingly prevalent in our society, it is our hope that the policy will help to ensure these matters are addressed in a consistent and authentically Catholic manner across our diocesan institutions and diocesan Catholic schools, and that those we serve will have a clear understanding about expectations and accommodations related to those matters,” stated the diocese.

The policy requires parental notification in the case of minors experiencing gender dysphoria or confusion; declares that parental rejection of a child’s preferred pronouns don’t constitute grounds for nondisclosure; bans use of preferred pronouns; restricts bathroom and facility usage to biological sex; prohibits admission of students to institutions, programs, and activities like sports designated for the opposite sex; bans same-sex dates to school dances and mixers; requires students to comply with dress codes aligning with their biological sex; bans any celebration or advocacy of LGBTQ+ ideologies or behaviors, such as Pride flags; and bans gender transitions of any degree, whether social or medical.

The policy acknowledged the existence of gender dysphoria, but rejected the modern belief that feelings determine truth.

“This understanding erases those intentional, embodied distinctions between men and women. As such, this view is contrary to the divinely revealed reality of our true, God-given human nature,” stated the policy.

Under the policy, individuals experiencing gender dysphoria or same-sex attraction would be admitted into their schools and allowed to participate in activities, with the contingency that they don’t openly express their disagreement with Catholic teachings on sex, sexuality, and gender.

Reverend Edward Malesic, the Bishop of Cleveland, stated in an accompanying letter that biological sex coincides with God’s divine plan.

Bishop Edward C. Malesic

“The human person is a unity of body and soul; we experience the world through our bodies, and it is through the virtuous expression of our bodies that we reveal God,” said Malesic. “Through times of questioning and confusion, we must accompany our brothers and sisters in Christ with compassion, mercy, and dignity so that we might lovingly help them navigate the confusion and arrive at truth.”

Malesic directed those with further questions or concerns to contact the diocese’s Marriage and Family Office. He also noted that the guidance page would be updated regularly with additional information and resources on the subject.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb posted on X (formerly Twitter) that he believed the policy represented a “shocking betrayal” of church teachings. Bibb offered his own definition of Christian faith, sans Scripture.

“For me, faith is about universal love and acceptance,” said Bibb. “Instead, the new policy forces LGBTQ+ kids to hide their authentic selves and attend schools in fear of persecution for who they are.”

Ohio’s Democratic minority leader for the Senate, Nickie Antonio, said the diocese should not be given school choice funds over the policy.

“I am extremely disappointed that the diocese has chosen to focus on policies of exclusion over acceptance,” said Antonio. “State taxpayer dollars should not subsidize exclusionary education, and if these policies stand, then the diocese should not accept state-funded vouchers.”

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