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In approaching the matter of sexuality and gender, the authors have failed to cite any but church documents.There is no reference made to the scientific advances made in the last half-century regarding the whole realm of human sexuality.The Ryan Commission published its 2,600-page report in 2009.
In 2017, Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest, wrote “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBTQ Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” a book that affirmed LGBTQ Catholics and received praise from several bishops as well as members of the LGBTQ community for advancing the conversation on this topic.
The new document talks about gender and transgender people in a less polemical way than the church has done previously.
It is not sufficient to suggest, as these authors do, that males have XY chromosomes and females have XX chromosomes.
All in all, this is a rear-guard attempt to defend a hyper-conservative Catholic view that, especially in light of the sex abuse/church cover-up scandal, seems almost laughable were it not so tragic. Well, it certainly sends a signal that some folk in the higher echelons of the church are trying to turn back the clock.
However, if you’ll forgive me bowdlerizing Ira Gershwin’s fabulous lyric, when it comes to the church, “they can’t take that away from me.” I couldn’t read the entire thing.
Frankly, I got irritated at the beginning with [their focus on] gender theory.
“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,” the authors write.
The announcement comes at a time when trans people’s rights are under threat on a national level.
(Pope Francis, for example, has in the past compared arguments for transgender rights to those for nuclear weapons.) It dedicates a section to “Listening” and “Points of Agreement” that concedes that “unjust discrimination” has been “a sad fact of history” and has taken place within the church. [Name changed to protect identity.] There is no evidence in this document that its authors have spent any time listening to transgender or intersex people.
But it also reiterates views that the pope and the US bishops has expressed which characterize transgender people as “choosing” their gender on gender, which themselves have been called transphobic and discriminatory by some trans Catholics. “Gender identity” is not about choosing which gender you would rather be, but noticing which gender you already are, as a gift given to you by God.