In a stunning document that confirms the anti-LGBTQ stance of the Catholic Church, the Vatican took a position on gender identity that effectively dismisses the very existence of intersex and transgender people, calling those labels “provocative” displays against “traditional frameworks.”
As if people who are trans are just doing it to be rebels.
Entitled “Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education,” the document seemed to lay down a line on how far it was willing to go.
The document was signed by the Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, and written as a guide for Catholic schools, teachers and educators.
“This oscillation between male and female becomes, at the end of the day, only a ‘provocative’ display against so-called ‘traditional frameworks,’ and one which, in fact, ignores the suffering of those who have to live situations of sexual indeterminacy,” it said.
The text says dialogue should be encouraged even with those who think differently from the Church, but it’s hard to have a conversation with people who intuitive reject your very identity. What’s the point of having a conversation with someone whose views are, by definition, not subject to change? Even the disclaimer about how Catholics shouldn’t discriminate isn’t helpful; just because people aren’t actively fighting against you doesn’t mean they’re on your side.
“The congregation’s call for listening and dialogue about gender is a positive step, however, it seems that the congregation is listening only to philosophers and theologians rather than to L.G.B.T. people who would share their real life experiences if asked,” said Rev. James Martin, the author of Building a Bridge, a book about how the Catholic church can reach out to L.G.B.T. faithful.
“Anyone who thinks that being transgender is a response to ideology,” he said, “has not spoken to many transgender people.”
Pope Francis hasn’t signed off this document — we don’t even know if he’s seen it — but his views are right in line with it. He once spoke about the “wickedness” of gender theory that went “against the natural order.”
What will this document accomplish? It’s not like it’ll change any minds. What it will do is create a new weapon to use against LGBTQ people. Francis DeBernardo, the Executive Director of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for LGBTQ equality within the church, said this was an oppressive document for that reason:
The only truth that the document reveals is that the Vatican remains ill-equipped to discuss gender and sexuality in the modern world. By ignoring new scientific understandings of gender identity, and by refusing to engage in dialogue with LGBT people about their lived experiences of self-understanding and faith, the Vatican remains in the dark ages, promoting a false teaching that relies on myth, rumor, and falsehoods. Because they have not consulted science or people’s experiences, the Vatican’s theology on gender is deficient and flawed. It relies on categories of male and female that were shaped centuries ago in oppressive and repressive cultures.
The Vatican maintains the idea that gender is determined solely by visible genitalia, which contemporary science has shown is and incorrect and harmful way to categorize people.
To be fair, the Church was promoting false teachings long before it waded in on gender identity. But point taken.
We saw this with the sexual abuse crisis, too. Every time the Church has an opportunity to fix its failures, it screws up. Leaders always insist they were right the first time around. Putting a smile on your face while spreading the same bigotry as usual isn’t a step forward for the Church. It’s a reminder of why any decent person should quit Catholicism altogether.
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