The Archdiocese of Milwaukee recently released a new policy aimed at people who do not identify with their biological sex, stating that parishes, schools and other Catholic organizations must require people to use bathrooms associated with their gender. birth.
If or when my brother’s daughter, Joan, comes to visit us from out of state, I will invite her to join us at our regular Saturday evening mass at my parish, Our Lady of Lourdes. I will introduce her as my niece to my friends and to our parish staff. I will point out the location of the women’s restroom. I hope she finds the same rich source of support to grow in love of God and neighbor that I found there. I will do all of this because our parish says, “All are welcome to come as they are and to serve.”
Unfortunately, our Archdiocese would ask me to do otherwise since Joan is transgender. According to the recently published “Catechesis and Politics on Issues Concerning Gender Theory”, I should not use Joan’s preferred pronouns – she/her/hers – but I should use he/him/her when referring to she. I should direct her to the men’s room. If our ward had a dress code, I would have to ask her not to wear tunics or skirts that she likes, and if we were sponsoring a women’s volleyball team, I would have to ask her not to participate. The latest policy in the guidelines states that Joan and her parents, and I, should be referred to “appropriate” ministers and advisers. This policy is called “Protecting the Vulnerable”.
Joan was vulnerable. The journey to becoming herself has, I think, been long and difficult. She is a private person, so she has not shared many of her struggles. However, I saw her hurt when our family inadvertently used the wrong pronouns when she began her transition. For her, I think it felt like we didn’t support her and love her when the old pronoun slipped away. I had the privilege of staying with her when she underwent facial feminization surgery several years ago. She was set to have surgery and a face wrapped in bandages to look more like herself. She didn’t ask to be transgender, but she bravely became a strong woman.
So when I saw the NCR article on the Archdiocese’s new policy, I was very sad. Once again, I struggle to reconcile the statements of the Church with the vibrant prayer community of which I am a member. Once again, I wonder if I can balance the tension that this politics brings me with my conviction that I am called to be Catholic. Again, I don’t know how I could encourage my nephews and nieces to join me in my church. My answer is to stay, but present Joan as Joan.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s transgender policy is absolutely callous and insensitive. The dialogue is probably below their leadership, but to dismiss this community under the guise of the Gospel is insulting.
JOHN J. PETILLO
I cry with shame and anger to remember once again that the Catholic Church I grew up in has come to such a complete loss of love and compassion.
MARIE ROSE NICHOLS
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Now is it the job of the church to tell people what to use when referring to themselves? What’s next, more gender-neutral names at baptism? Bye Kelly? I like ? Will my poor uncle Claire be exhumed from consecrated ground?
There are plenty of pins waiting for their angel population to be counted, and there are people in Milwaukee who are ready for the job.
East Setauket, NY
This is another sad and distressing incident of a complete lack of pastoral sensitivity. I wholeheartedly agree with New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo who says the guidelines the Bishop of Milwaukee recently released “show no concern for any human person.”
A larger concern is this: when are we going to stop using a myth, the story of Adam and Eve, to explain personality and gender? We are no longer talking about a dome that separates the water of the earth from that of the heavens, and we are not suggesting that the universe was created in six 24-hour periods. Science has shown us that any “day” in creation may have been millions of years old.
We cannot reject the real experience of real human persons because we believe in the truth of incarnation. Everything we know now from experience and scientific study reveals far more than ancient writers could have imagined about the realities of who we are as human beings, each of us created by God in all of our nice complexity.
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
When it comes to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s attitude towards sexual orientation, I can only ask, “Which bathroom would Jesus use?”
Ann Arbor, MI
I was saddened to read the new policy issued by Bishop Jerome Listecki. This, like those recently introduced in other archdioceses and dioceses, will only serve to create a new class of Holy Innocents – innocent children ruthlessly persecuted by unjust policies implemented by religious fanatics in the name of Christ.
I can speak firsthand about the negative fallout from these policies, which pretty much mirror each other. As a pastor of an online Catholic mission to the transgender community, I have been contacted by transgender Catholic adults in the Dioceses of Arlington and Marquette about these policies. These faithful Catholics have been ostracized by the church and essentially put on the streets. I advised them to follow the teachings of Christ who told the disciples that when they come across a place where they are not welcome, they should shake the earth off their feet and move on. Adult transgender people can simply leave Roman Catholic churches and seek out independent Catholic churches that are open and affirming – churches such as the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America, the Old Catholic Church in America, or the Catholic Communion ecumenical, to name a few. .
But the fate of young transgender people is very worrying. Statistics show that more than half of young transgender people are rejected by their own families. Their desperation is only amplified when their schools and churches take a tough stance against them. It’s no wonder the rate of suicide attempts is over 40% for the transgender community. Christ teaches that we should love one another. Churches that adopt general policies that exclude or persecute people – especially those who are innocent and vulnerable, like young people – have got their theology wrong.
Any transgender person wishing to live their authentic life while practicing their authentic faith is welcome to do so in many independent Catholic churches.
(Pastor) GRACE WILGEFORTIS FERRIS
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