A Catholic Diocese in Michigan has been thrown into the national limelight after a priest and eminent author shared his advice on transgender members and those having same-sex relationships on social media this week. The viral directive, which the Diocese of Marquette released in July, states that these faithful are prohibited from being baptized or taking Communion unless they have “repented.”
A lawyer said it was the “most blatant” directive ever issued by a diocese.
He instructs the priests of the church on how to develop pastoral relationships with âsame sex attractionâ and âpeople with gender dysphoriaâ and âbringing them step by step to Jesus Christ in a way that is consistent with the teaching of the Churchâ.
The Roman Catholic Church has long held that being homosexual is not a sin, but that being in a same-sex relationship or having same-sex sex is. The Vatican also ruled in March that priests cannot bless same-sex unions.
Regarding transgender people, the Vatican published in June 2019 âMen and Women, He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education,â which rejected the idea that people trans can exist and stated that “ideology” aims “to annihilate the concept of” nature. “
The Diocese of Marquette said in its guidelines that trans people deserve “love and friendship” and compared them to people “with anorexia nervosa.”
âIn this disorder, there is an incongruity between the way people perceive themselves and their bodily reality,â says the guide. âJust as we would refer a person with anorexia to an expert for help, also refer people with gender dysphoria to a qualified counselor to help them while we show them the depth of our love and friendship. “
The document says people with same-sex relationships and trans people cannot be baptized or confirmed or receive Holy Communion. They also cannot be used as witnesses during baptisms or Catholic confirmations.
But, according to the guide, gay and transgender people can participate in such sacraments if they repent. For gays, lesbians, bisexuals and homosexuals, this would mean ending same-sex relationships, and for trans people, it would mean living like the sexes assigned to them at birth, although the guidelines say that trans people who have undergone “physical changes to the body” are not required to reverse them.
In addition, in accordance with Catholic doctrine, the guidelines state that children of same-sex married couples can be baptized if they are brought up in the Catholic faith and have been taught that same-sex marriage goes against the teachings. from the church.
“Unlike a man and a woman who cohabit or in an invalid marriage, the status of same-sex couples can never be regularized, which presents a particular pastoral concern”, he specifies. “To avoid scandal, baptism should be performed in private, and care should be taken to avoid the impression of accepting the redefinition of marriage and parenthood.”
The document surfaced after Jesuit priest, LGBTQ advocate and bestselling author Reverend James Martin criticized it on Twitter, writing on Tuesday: “It’s not a sin to be transgender.”
Martin added, âTransgender people are beloved children of God who struggle to understand their identity. They must be accepted withâ respect, compassion and sensitivity. âAs Cardinal Gregory said to one trans person, ‘ You belong to the heart of this church. ‘”
Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, DC, is the past president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He later tweeted that claims that being transgender is a sin and that trans people don’t exist “do immense harm to LGBTQ people and their families.”
He continued, “The Catholic Church must listen to LGBTQ people, not give them more reasons to distance themselves from the church.”
In an emailed statement Thursday, the Diocese of Marquette said the guidance had been shared with pastors and school principals, among others, to provide them with a “framework” for them to develop pastoral relationships with. LGBTQ devotees.
“The Church teaches that people experiencing feelings of same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria are not sin, but to act freely on them is,” reads the statement, shared by John Fee. , director of communications for the diocese.
The statement also noted that the Bishop of the Diocese, John Doerfler, “served as a Chaplain of Courage” in his previous ministry and “found that working with the Catholic apostolate to those with same-sex attraction for several years as a priest was a “privilege” and he remains inspired by the “faith and desire to live chaste” of the members.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, which advocates for LGBTQ rights in the Catholic Church, said the councils were part of a larger trend of dioceses to “make statements that make it seem like they are trying to be helpful to gay, queer, and transgender people, but that is really damaging the spiritual, emotional and physical health of our community and families. â
She described the guidelines of the Diocese of Marquette in particular as the “most blatant” ever issued by a diocese, saying they “went much further than any diocese before”.
She said that since the Vatican released âMale and Female He Created Themâ – which she said was meant to be narrowly focused on education – more than a dozen American dioceses have implemented their own policies or issued additional statements.
âThat educational mandate has been sort of sidelined by almost every other country in the world, but it just shows how many warrior culture bishops we have here in the United States, that they’ve really amplified this kind of thing. ‘education at the expense of LGBTQ Catholics, who increasingly feel excluded by our church hierarchy, âsaid Duddy-Burke.
The councils of the Diocese of Marquette, as well as similar councils in other dioceses, also conflict with many of Pope Francis’ teachings and the overtures he has made to the LGBTQ community, she said. In 2013, for example, FranÃ§ois replied âWho am I to judge? to a journalist’s question about homosexual priests. Last year, he told a group of parents that God loves their LGBTQ children.
But Francis’s statements conflict with the church’s doctrine on LGBTQ people – a doctrine that Duddy-Burke says has driven people out for decades.
A 2015 Pew Research Center survey found that half of those raised in Catholicism had left the church at some point. While it is not known how many of the church’s LGBTQ policies remain, a 2019 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that nearly three-quarters of white and non-white Catholics, or 74 percent, support the protections against discrimination for LGBTQ people. The majority also support same-sex marriage, with 68% of Hispanic Catholics and 63% of White Catholics.
Duddy-Burke said young adults are even more accepting of LGBTQ people than previous generations – and nearly one in five said they’re not heterosexual, according to a global survey – which means they’ve grown up in a world “where many of them expect equity and inclusion of LGBTQ people.”
âIf the church continues to have discriminatory attitudes, policies and teachings, the tendency of people to withdraw from Catholicism will only continue,â she said.
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