A leader of the American Bishops’ Conference has written to Catholic prelates across the country, alleging that an unknown number of transgender men have been “unwittingly admitted” into diocesan seminaries and training houses for religious orders.
Archbishop of Milwaukee Jerome Listecki, who chairs the bishops’ committee on canonical affairs and church governance, told bishops across the country in a September 22 memo that they may consider “various options.” to ensure that only those designated as male at birth are ordained to the Catholic priesthood.
Recommendations include DNA testing and certification of a medical expert chosen by the bishop.
Rocco Palmo, who writes the Whispers in the Loggia blog, first reported the memo, titled “Transgenderism and Seminary Formation”, via Twitter on September 23. Palmo’s initial tweet elicited a series of disbelieving responses, with some likening the memo to medieval practices of physically checking candidates for the priesthood.
A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee referred questions from the NCR about the memo to the bishops’ conference. Conference spokesperson Chieko Noguchi declined to comment.
As major Protestant and non-denominational Christian seminaries increasingly welcome transgender students, the Catholic Church has taken a tough stance on transgender issues.
Pope Francis has often spoken out against what he calls âgender ideologyâ. In 2019, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education issued a detailed statement in which it claimed that gender theory sought to âannihilate the concept of natureâ.
In her recent memo, Listecki said her committee was made aware of “cases where it was discovered that a woman living with a transgender identity” had been admitted to a seminary or training house at a religious institute.
In one case, Listecki wrote, “a person’s sacramental records had been obtained fraudulently to reflect their new identity. In any case, nothing in the medical or psychological reports of these people had reported any previous treatment or abuse. relevant surgeries “.
The Archbishop also wrote that “fortunately” every case of a transgender seminarian or religious in training was discovered before he received the sacrament of Holy Orders.
The note cites the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which requires the diocesan bishop to admit to the major seminary and ordain “only men possessing the requisite physical and psychological qualities”.
In addition, a diocesan bishop may need various means to establish moral certainty in this regard, “Listecki also wrote, adding that the committee had encouraged him to write to the bishops about these events so that they” exercise special vigilance “as a new year of seminary training begins.