Edward Pentin began reporting on the Pope and the Vatican with Vatican Radio before moving on to become the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register. He has also reported on the Holy See and the Catholic Church for a number of other publications including Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The Holy Land Review, a Franciscan publication specializing in the Church and the Middle East. Edward is the author of “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation into Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family”, published by Ignatius Press. Follow him on Twitter @edwardpentin
The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy in Great Britain have become the latest to sound the alarm over “gender ideology,” calling it a “troubling phenomenon” that has become “impossible to ignore.”
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Confraternity of around 500 priests and deacons noted that “increasingly we meet individuals in our parishes unable to accept the sex in which they were born.”
Often they believe they “must ‘change’ their sex in order to find happiness,” the clergy said, adding that sometimes they can be “very young” and so cause “anguish” to parents and others concerned with their well-being.
Those who suggest they cannot change their sex are then immediately met “with charges of hatred and bigotry,” the clergy observed.
Set up globally in 1975, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy is made up of priests and deacons pledged to the pursuit of personal holiness, loyalty to the Roman Pontiff, as well as commitment to theological study and strict adherence to the authentic teachings of the Magisterium.
The British Confraternity said the whole issue of ‘transgenderism’ is becoming an “urgent pastoral question” in their parishes and especially schools and other institutions.
They added that as clergy can find it “difficult to find a response which is both pastorally sensitive and faithful to Catholic teaching,” they wanted to issue a statement to help them “deal with those affected by this issue, and do their best to guide others.”
In their statement, the Confraternity said that when confronting the issue of gender identity, it is “very important” to state Catholic teaching in this area “clearly and simply,” as well as address the “emotional and social factors that give rise to this disassociation, known as ‘gender dysphoria.’’”
They underlined that the body is a fundamental good, that God created man male and female, and that “true and lasting happiness lies in accepting who it is that God has made us, for His plans for us are always plans of infinite love.”
As priests and deacons, they said they are committed to proclaiming Catholic teaching in this area “with pastoral charity.”
But at the same time, they said they “deplore” the fact that proponents of gender ideology often use “polemic and propaganda” which “do nothing” to help those who are “often deeply troubled.” What people struggling with such issues need, the priests said, is “patience and kindness.”
They noted that a “significant number” of those who undergo gender reassignment “later regret it” and “far from bringing happiness,” it leads to having a “significant impact on their mental health.”
The charitable response, they argued, is to urge those struggling with gender identity to spend time in “waiting, prayer and reflection.” This is especially important with young people who often find it difficult to make sense of their lives, and for whom exposure to gender ideology “may do real harm.”
Encouraging gender reassignment surgery or hormone treatment for children is “especially unacceptable,” they said.
The Confraternity closed by underlining that it is in “the truth of the Gospel and through the grace of the Sacraments that every human being can find the fulfillment that God intends for them.”
Popes and US Bishops
The statement noted that both Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have addressed the phenomenon “several times.”
In 2016, Pope Francis said ideologies that propose children can “choose their gender” constitute the very “annihilation of man as image of God.” He has also called gender theory part of “a global war trying to destroy marriage.”
In a speech to the Roman Curia in 2012, Benedict XVI said gender ideology is ultimately a revolt against God and man, leaving man as “merely spirit and will.” He warned that if there is no “pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation.”
At the 2015 Synod on the Family, Cardinal Robert Sarah said gender ideology had a “demonic origin” and was almost like an “apocalyptic beast” that poses a major threat to the family.
The Confraternity’s statement follows a rejection of gender ideology by U.S. bishops and ecumenical and interreligious leaders in December.
“The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling,” wrote the signatories of the statement entitled Created Male and Female.
“It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation,” they wrote.
The faith leaders, who included Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, reasserted the truth that God created each person male and female, and reiterated that natural marriage “continues to be invaluable to American society.”