LONDON — Criticizing ideological trends regarding gender identity, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, has said that accepting that one’s biological sex is built in to humanity helps people escape destructive individualism through participation in the human family.
“At a time of great confusion about the rules of sexual behavior, about exploitation and abuse in every part of society, some firm points of reference, that are already built into our humanity at its best, are of vital importance,” Cardinal Nichols told a February meeting of Catholic teachers.
“In an age of fluidity, even in gender identity, and at a time when the response to ‘difference’ is to become closed in a self-selecting world of the like-minded and reject that which is different, such foundations are so important,” the cardinal continued. These foundations “affirm that there are ‘givens’ which come with birth and with solid identities and which project across generations.”
“They help up keep hold of the reality that we are not single, self-determining individuals, but members of a great family, with all its trials, diversities and struggles, and within that family, not alone, will we find our greatest joy,” he said.
Young people need help to develop a sense of justice grounded in an “innate understanding of human nature and its dignity,” not ideology, Cardinal Nichols said.
“The Christian faith is not an ideology,” he said. “An ideology proceeds by destroying what is in its way. … An ideology seeks to remove all that is opposed to it and to impose its ‘ideals,’ no matter the objective cost.”
According to Cardinal Nichols, the Christian faith looks upon the reality of which it is a part.
“The Christian faith, more than any other, takes the reality of sin seriously, not pretending that we live in a utopia, or on a pathway of endless progress, but, rather, in a world marked by limitations and distortions.”
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales will consider its response to transgender issues in April.
Heather Ashton with the transgender advocacy group TG Pals said the cardinal’s remarks were “not helpful” and said “a religious bias should not have any impact on a transgender child’s needs,” the Mail on Sunday newspaper reports.
Scotland is considering changes to its Gender Recognition Act of 2004, which is likely to inspire similar changes in England and Wales, the British newspaper the Catholic Herald reports.
The change would allow self-declaration to change gender recognized by law. Current law requires assessments for “gender dysphoria” over a two-year period before a person may legally change his or her gender. The proposals would allow 16-year-olds to self-declare a new gender, while those under 16 would be able to change gender without parental consent if they appeal to the courts.