God’s design: He created them male and female

God’s design: He created them male and female


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Recently, in consultation with our Diocesan
Pastoral Council and Presbyteral Council, I promulgated for our diocese a Policy on
Gender Identity, which states, “It is the policy of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois
that all Catholic agencies, including parishes, schools, institutions, departments, or other
entities, shall respect the biological sex with which a person is born and shall apply
all policies and procedures in relation to that person according to that person’s biological
sex at birth.” This policy also respects the rights of others and helps keep all those
entrusted to our care safe, especially in locker rooms and restrooms, and seeks to ensure
fair competition in athletics. One would think that gender identity is a
matter of common sense, as it was for most people until recently, but in our world today
unfortunately common sense does not always prevail. Anticipating that this policy would be misunderstood
and criticized by those who are proponents of transgender theory, which denies that sex
can be defined in the binary categories of male and female, I published a Pastoral Guide
to accompany and explain the Policy on Gender Identity. The Pastoral Guide starts out by
emphasizing the “Pastoral Imperative of Compassionate Concern” for dealing with
gender dysphoria and transgenderism, saying, “Gender dysphoria is a real psychological
condition, in which a biological male or female believes he or she is the opposite gender.
It is of paramount importance to handle such situations with gentle and compassionate pastoral
skill and concern.” These policies make clear that we are obligated to respect the
biology given to us by God, while also supporting and loving those with gender dysphoria. This
includes our churches and schools working with those with gender dysphoria to provide
them a private bathroom and appropriate counseling. Unfortunately, however, some family members
and others “likely wrestle with a sense of confusion, guilt, and uncertainty over
how best to support their loved one; and they face pressure, either directly or indirectly,
from the prevailing culture to celebrate and reinforce their loved one’s gender dysphoria
and feel compelled to ‘solve’ the problem by surgically and hormonally changing the
biological sex of the affected person. Such treatments, especially for children, are invasive
and disruptive physically, chemically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.” In this regard, the Pastoral Guide quotes
Pope Francis, who has questioned whether “the so-called gender theory is not an expression
of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it
no longer knows how to confront it. Yes, we risk taking a step backwards. The removal
of difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution” (General Audience, April 15,
2015). The Pastoral Guide also points out that our
Policy on Gender Identity is in keeping with the official teaching of the Catholic Church,
which states, “Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.
Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the
goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life.” See Catechism of the Catholic Church
(CCC), §2333. “Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God,
with equal dignity though in a different way.” See, CCC §2335. The entire text of the Pastoral Guide and
the Policy on Gender Identity can be found online at www.dio.org/policy/booktwo. While most people that I have heard from have
welcomed this policy and pastoral guide, there are some, as expected, who have denounced
both the policy and me personally, often with harsh and hateful vitriol. Then there are those who feel that our policy
is not as “woke” or enlightened as they are, criticizing it as supposedly not based
on science. Since I am not a scientist, I will refer these critics to scientific experts
who in fact demonstrate that transgender ideology is contrary to proven scientific principles.
In an article entitled, “The Dangerous Denial of Sex,” published in the Feb. 14, 2020
issue of The Wall Street Journal, Colin M. Wright and Emma N. Hilton argue that “transgender
ideology harms women, gays — and especially feminine boys and masculine girls.” It should
be noted that Wright is an evolutionary biologist at Penn State and Hilton is a developmental
biologist at the University of Manchester. They point out, “In humans, reproductive
anatomy is unambiguously male or female at birth more than 99.98 percent of the time
… . No third type of sex cell exists in humans, and therefore there is no sex ‘spectrum’
or additional sexes beyond male and female. Sex is binary.” With regard to cases of hermaphroditism or
intersex, that is, where a child is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that cannot
be clearly identified as either male or female, our policy states that “the Church recognizes
that appropriate medical care may be necessary in rare cases of true genetic or physical
anomalies, such as hermaphroditism or intersex.” Wright and Hilton point out, “But intersex
individuals are extremely rare, and they are neither a third sex nor proof that sex is
a ‘spectrum’ or a ‘social construct.’ Not everyone needs to be discretely assignable
to one or the other sex in order for biological sex to be functionally binary. To assume otherwise
— to confuse secondary sexual traits with biological sex itself — is a category error.” Wright and Hilton conclude, “Biologists
and medical professionals need to stand up for the empirical reality of biological sex.
When authoritative scientific institutions ignore or deny empirical fact in the name
of social accommodation, it is an egregious betrayal to the scientific communitythey represent.
It undermines public trust in science, and it is dangerously harmful to those most vulnerable.” An example of the societal harm caused by
transgender theory can be seen in the policy in Connecticut allowing transgender student
athletes to compete in the sport of their “preferred gender identity,” not their
biological sex. The conference includes many of the state’s Catholic schools. As result
of this ideological policy, two males identifying as female have won 15 women’s state championship
titles, and a single male has set 10 state records that were previously held by 10 different
girls. Three female high school track-and-field athletes filed a lawsuit on Feb. 12 in a federal
district court, saying they were denied an opportunity for fair competition under Title
IX, which mandates that federally funded education programs or activities cannot discriminate
on the basis of sex. The girls’ lawyer, Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel with the
group Alliance Defending Freedom, said, “Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field.
Forcing female athletes to compete against males is not fair and destroys these girls
athletic opportunities.” As our society continues to wrestle with these
nonsensical challenges to common sense, let us pray that all people will come to appreciate
that our identities as male and female are part of God’s good design in Creation, that
our bodies and sexual identities are gifts from God, and that we should accept and care
for our bodies as they were created. May God give us this grace. Amen.

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