Male and Female
Catholic Teaching and Transgenderism
Our Sexuality is a Gift from God
Being Man or Being Woman Reflects the Creator’s Goodness
A Crisis in Human Sexuality
Gender Identity Denies Sexual Differences
Gender Identity Theory Violates Human Dignity
“Male and female he created them”
With these words of Genesis, “Man comes ‘into being’ with consciousness of this finality of his own masculinity-femininity, that is, of his own sexuality.”
The Problem with Transgenderism
A Crisis in Human Sexuality
We are facing a crisis in human sexuality caused by a representation of human anthropology that cancels out differences between men and women.
Portraying sex differences as simply the product of historical or cultural conditioning, this approach proposes “a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female.” (Pope Francis, 56)
However, “Divine Revelation and…philosophical wisdom, emphasize the authentic exigencies of human nature. They…manifest the existence of immutable laws…which are revealed to be identical in all beings endowed with reason.” (Persona Humana, IV)
“‘Being man’ or ‘being woman’ is a reality which is good and willed by God.” (CCC, 369)
Gender Identity Theory
Our body has an “inbuilt order” a “grammar” that “sets forth ends and criteria for its wise use”. (Pope Benedict XVI, 48)
Gender identity theory “denies the difference and reciprocity in [the] nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society with-out sexual differences” with the consequence that “human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time“. (Pope Francis, 56)
However, “there can be no true promotion of man’s dignity unless the essential order of his nature is respected.” (Persona Humana, III)
The Christian vision of anthropology sees sexuality as a fundamental component of one’s personhood and “[i]n their ‘being-man‘ and ‘being-woman,’ they reflect the Creator’s wisdom and goodness.” (CCC, 369)
The Consequences of Transgenderism
“Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble”.
“When freedom, out of a desire to emancipate itself from all forms of tradition and authority, shuts out even the most obvious evidence of an objective and universal truth…a serious distortion of life in society” results. (Evangelium Vitae, 19-20)
It is an “absurd attempt to reconstruct a solid and fruitful temporal order divorced from God, who is, in fact, the only foundation on which it can endure.” (Mater et Magistra, 217)
“When “any reference to common values and to a truth absolutely binding on everyone is lost…At that point, everything is negotiable“. (Evangelium Vitae, 20)
“Separated from God a man is but a monster, in himself and toward others; for the right ordering of human society presupposes the right ordering of man’s conscience with God”. (Mater et Magistra, 215)
“An appreciation of our body as male or female is also necessary for our own self-awareness in an encounter with others different from ourselves.” (Laudato Si, 155)
To the Individual & Humanity
“[T]he moral order has no existence except in God; cut off from God it must necessarily disintegrate.” (Mater et Magistra, 208)
“[W]hen the sense of God is lost, the sense of man is also threatened and poisoned“. (Evangelium Vitae, 22)
“[I]n his striving to master and transform the world around him he is in danger of forgetting and of destroying himself.” (Mater et Magistra, 242)
“[T]he systematic violation of the moral law…produces a kind of progressive darkening of the capacity to discern God’s living and saving presence”. (Evangelium Vitae, 21)
Why is Gender Identity Such an Unacceptable View?
“It is from [their] sex that the human person receives the characteristics which, on the biological, psychological and spiritual levels, make that person a man or a woman”. (Persona Humana, I)
In fact, the “‘body‘ reveals the living soul” so that “[i]f we dealt with sex without the person, the whole adequacy of the anthropology which we find in Genesis would be destroyed.” (Pope St. John Paul II)
“There is a deep connection between the mystery of creation, as a gift springing from love, and that beatifying ‘beginning’ of the existence of man as male and female, in the whole truth of their body and their sex“. (Pope St. John Paul II)
“The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home”. (Pope Francis, 155)
“Yet another sign of love will be the effort to transmit to Christians not doubts and uncertainties born of an erudition poorly assimilated but certainties that are solid because they are anchored in the Word of God. The faithful need these certainties for their Christian life; they have a right to them, as children of God who abandon themselves entirely into His arms and to the exigencies of love. (Pope St. Paul VI, 79)
The Gift of ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’
“Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift.” (Pope Francis, 56)
“‘Being man’ or ‘being woman’ is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator.” (CCC, 369)
“It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality.” (Pope Francis, 56)
“The Church cannot remain indifferent to this confusion of minds…It is a question, in fact, of a matter which is of the utmost importance both for the personal lives of Christians and for the social life of our time.” (Persona Humana, II)
“The great task is…recapturing the ultimate meaning of life and its fundamental values. Only an awareness of the primacy of these values enables man…to bring about the true advancement of the human person in his or her whole truth, in his or her freedom and dignity.” (Familiaris Consortio, 8)
What About Those Who Suffer Gender Dysphoria?
“The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love”.
As a fairly new recognized condition (DSM V, 2013) for boys/men and girls/women who suffer gender dysphoria and/or identify as “transgender” or “nonbinary” the search for cures/solutions/treatments must be guided by models promoting the authentic good of the human person.
Medical and pastoral support, as Pope Francis teaches, needs to help people “to accept their own bodies and to avoid the pretension ‘to cancel out sexual difference because one no longer knows how to deal with it.'” (Pope Francis, 285)
“To fulfill this duty, all who collaborate in Catholic health care ministry must make every effort, using all appropriate means at their disposal, to provide the best medical care, as well as Christ’s compassionate accompaniment, to all patients, no matter who they may be or from what condition they may be suffering”. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)
God made us in his image, and this image is embedded in our body as well as our soul. Our body is intrinsic to our personhood.
The Church’s teaching is not meant to curtail love but to enable it. For those troubled with their identity, patience is called for. When a person is on a path seeking wholeness, their search must be encouraged and respected – in friendship.
Yet for growth to be efficacious it must proceed towards the correct goal. The Church’s task is to point to the peace and life-giving path of Christ’s commandments. We owe it to God, our brothers and sisters and ourselves to offer what is true – and why we believe it is true.
“Although she constantly holds up the call to perfection and asks for a fuller response to God, ‘the Church must accompany with attention and care the weakest of her children, who show signs of a wounded and troubled love, by restoring in them hope and confidence'”. (Pope Francis, 291)
We Must Speak out Against Transgenderism
“At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created.” (Pope Francis, 56)
We Must Advance the Human Dignity of Male and Female
Bring also your “professional activity into conformity with the Church’s social teaching.” (Mater et Magistra, 241)
“[R]ecover an awareness of the primacy of moral values“. (Familiaris Consortio, 8)
“Do nothing to compromise religion and morality.“ (Mater et Magistra, 239)
“Even in the most difficult circumstances human freedom is capable of extraordinary acts of sacrifice and solidarity“. (Pope Benedict XVI)
We Must Practice Forbearance
“Holiness in the Church begins with forbearance” (or patience). “True ‘holiness’ is not separation, but union; not judgement, but redeeming love.” Indeed, “the aspect of Christ’s holiness that upset his contemporaries was the complete absence of [a] condemnatory note”.
“This does not mean that everything must be left undisturbed and endured as it is.” Indeed, the Church lives “from the struggle of the unholy to attain holiness…But this effort only becomes fruitful and constructive if it is inspired by the spirit of forbearance, by real love.”
“[T]he Church raises men up, gives them a home and a hope, a home that is hope – the path to eternal life“.
(All quotes are from: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), “Introduction to Christianity”, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 342, 343, 344.]
The Archdiocese of Baltimore has prepared a “Pastoral Accompaniment” guide for this issue.
The Archdiocese of Portland has prepared an in-depth guide to this issue.
The Archbishop of Oklahoma City has published an insightful article on the topic.
The Archbishop of San Francisco and Bishop of Oakland have issued a joint letter on “The Body-Soul Unity of the Human Person”.
The Catholic Medical Association has prepared an excellent précis on this topic.
Catholic Social Teaching and Other Issues
It is our special task to order and throw light upon all the affairs of the world in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ: “let the laity also by their combined efforts remedy the customs and conditions of the world.”
The belief humanity can be divided into separate and exclusive biological entities with some races innately superior to others. This leads to personal and societal prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity. What does Catholic social teaching have to say about such an insidious “ism”? CLICK to read more.
Candidates for President of the United States and many in congress espouse this as an alternative model for our country. What, exactly, is it? What does the Catholic Church say? CLICK to read more.
One political party committed the US to the Paris Agreement and proposes a “Green New Deal”. Another party withdrew from the Paris Agreement and inimically opposes the other’s proposal. What does Catholic social teaching say? CLICK to read more.
“The greatest challenge of our time”! Why? Radical secularism holds that there is no such thing as an objective truth. But, “Without truth, without trust and love for what is true...social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 5) Sound familiar?