Two Catholic bishops assure transgender people: “God resides in you”



A bishop, an archbishop and several other Catholic organizations and leaders published a letter March 31 with the Human rights campaign condemning discrimination and violence against transgender people and affirming their dignity.

“The defense of human dignity is one of our highest vocations of our baptism,” reads the letter, which first circulated to NCR. “And we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do whatever it takes to end discrimination and violence.”

Signers of the letter, released on Transgender Visibility Day, included Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Ky .; Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico; Fr. Jesuit. Michael Garanzini, President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; and leaders of the United States Catholic Priests Association and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, who also signed the letter as organizations.

In 2020, the Human Rights Campaign documented at least 44 murders of transgender and gender nonconforming people in the United States, according to the letter. Most of the victims were black or Latin trans women, according to the Human Rights Campaign website.

Trans women of color face discrimination at the intersections of racism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia, according to the campaign, meaning they are often denied safety, housing, employment, health care and other fundamental rights.

“It is essential that as Catholic and lay leaders we do all we can to prevent any further discrimination or prejudice,” the letter said. “It must start with more Catholic leaders highlighting the humanity of our dear neighbors.”

The Catholic Church has its own history of discriminatory statements and actions against transgender people. In 2019, the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education published a document called “Male and female, he created them.” In it, the congregation attacked the intentions of transgender people and said the concept of a spectrum of gender identity “would annihilate the concept of ‘nature.’ “

The document mistakenly conflates intersex and transgender identities, claiming that both are “efforts to move beyond the constitutive gender difference between men and women” that could “lead to ambiguous masculinity or femininity.”

New Ways Ministry LGBTQ Catholic Support Group called this document “a harmful tool that will be used to oppress and harm not only transgender people, but lesbian, gay and bisexual people as well.”

During the first months of 2021, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed to the decree of the Biden administration to protect transgender and other LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing and employment and spoke out against the Equality Bill, which would expand anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in programs funded by the federal government, while eliminating exemptions from religious freedom.

Some dioceses, such as the Diocese of Indianapolis, have policies that could prohibit transgender students from attending Catholic schools. And transgender Catholics told NCR they often face discrimination and rejection in religious spaces.

In the March 31 letter, however, Stowe, Wester and the other Catholic signatories stressed that the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “any sign of unjust discrimination” against LGBTQ people “should be avoided.” Catholics have been ordered to “respect the full dignity and humanity of each individual,” said the authors of the letter.

“Just because we may not understand an individual’s experience does not mean that we should discriminate against them or tolerate any form of discrimination they may experience,” the letter said. “We are never commanded, neither in Holy Scripture nor in Holy Tradition, to discriminate against anyone, but rather to be stewards of justice and mercy.”

The letter also cited Pope Francis’ 2020 encyclical letter. Fratelli Tutti, who urged Catholics not to become indifferent to the suffering of others.

“Instead, we should feel outraged, challenged to come out of our comfortable isolation and be changed by our contact with human suffering,” the letter said, quoting Francis.

In a press release announcing the letter, Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the moral leadership of the Catholic Church is “essential for the safety of our transgender brothers and sisters” at a time when trans people are in danger of death. threatening violence.

“This is a critical time to come together united, powered by our faith, and raise our voices to say unequivocally that transgender rights are human rights and must be protected,” said David.

The letter also cited Saint Bonaventure’s call to “contemplate God” in all creation. Transgender people are part of that creation, the letter says.

“Transgender people have always been members of our local parishes and the testimony of their lives… leads us to a greater contemplation of God and the mystery of our faith,” the letter said. “To our transgender brothers and sisters, always know that the image of God resides within you and that God loves you.”



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