Last August, Pope Francis visited a church in Rome that opened a shelter for homeless people who identify as transgender. “No one should suffer injustice or be thrown out, everyone has the dignity of being a child of God”, Sister Geneviève Jeanningros Told the vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
The good sister is right. We do not deserve our dignity; it is a gift from God. Our equality is based on this: we are all equally and deeply loved by our Creator.
Some advocates express dismay that Pope Francis supports the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage while expressing so much kindness to people who live in disagreement with those teachings. But no one should be surprised. That’s what Christ teaches us to do: love your neighbor and teach the truth.
In the midst of the AIDS crisis, for example, the Church has forged the world’s largest network of AIDS care centres. Sick people need care. Homeless people need shelter. Abandoned people need to know that they are loved. It is precisely to express the love of Christ that the Catholic Church has so many ministries of care: for the sick, for women in crisis of pregnancy, for migrants, for the poor and for others on the margins . The Catholic Church remains the largest private provider of social services in the world.
Meanwhile, Church teaching on sex and marriage is based on both faith and reason. All around us we see that sexual desire inflicts a lot of pain if it is not put in the service of love. Moral rules exist to protect people from harm and help them get better.
Our bodies have meaning. We are not mere ghosts in machines. Our bodies are part of who we are and they orient us towards love, towards what Pope Saint John Paul II called the “nuptial meaning of the body”. Men and women are made to unite. This call touches even those who, like me, are dedicated to celibacy, which is another way of giving oneself entirely in love. Rejecting that reduces another human being to a mere object of desire. We see the profoundly painful results of the breakdown of this marriage norm in increased crime, poverty, mental illness and loneliness. These are the crises that the absence of a father brings, which studies in the social sciences have shown us for more than fifty years now.
Pope Francis calls attacks on these truths of our masculinity and femininity “gender ideology” and, as he Put the in 2021, “an attack on difference, on God’s creativity and on men and women”. He even refers to it in his popular encyclical letter on the environment, Laudato Si’asserting that “valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I want to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone different”.
Things go wrong in this world. How best to care for people with a painful gap between their body and mind is a matter of debate. Even though we share the impulse to care, the descent into gender ideology puts an end to that discussion, with ideologues insisting that all medical professionals and loving parents agree that surgically mutilating and perhaps even sterilizing children with puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery is “health care.” And yet, the UK National Health Service recently close her main ‘gender affirmation’ clinic because she ‘rushed children into life-changing treatment’. Thank goodness for those committed to putting patients above profits.
Amid this rapidly changing situation, the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing so-called “non-discrimination” rules that would prevent our departments from helping people. In his public comment On the proposed settlement, First Liberty’s public interest attorneys say, “Health care providers and religious institutions will continue to be targeted, prosecuted, and potentially expelled from the healthcare field if federal regulations do not allow them not to follow their conscience”.
These new regulations do a disservice to vulnerable people. We want to serve people who struggle with gender identity. We also love them enough to protest an ideology that hurts real people so much.
But meanwhile, tens of thousands of young teenagers are physically medicated and sometimes mutilated for life, majority who probably would have found a way to reconcile with their bodies if they hadn’t been interrupted. Parents are threatens to be cut off from their children. The ability to self-identify has also been exploited by some men claiming to be women. imprisoned women were raped and impregnated by biological males forced to move into their living quarters. The women in homeless shelters and young girls swimming pools in many states are denied a safe space, and even the female sports paradise is being overrun by biological males.
We cannot be silent. Authentic compassion compels us to speak on behalf of people struggling with gender identity and victims of gender ideology, in whatever forms victimization takes.