USCCB Catholic Education Chair Speaks Out on ‘Confused Catholic Schools’ Embracing ‘Sinful’ Gender Ideology

A bishop warns against Catholic institutions’ misguided acceptance of gender ideology.

Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane has issued several statements this month of vaccinations and exemptions.
Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane has issued several statements this month of vaccinations and exemptions. (photo: CNA file photo)

BALTIMORE — Catholic institutions permitting the use of preferred pronouns in line with gender ideology is a “tragic” and “sinful” occurrence that has unfortunately become more common, Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington, who heads the U.S. Bishops Catholic Education Committee, recently told the Register. 

As transgender ideology continues to gain popularity with young people, he sees the need for U.S. bishops to be vocal on the issue and firmly articulate the truths of the faith on gender and sexuality

Speaking with the Register in November during the bishops’ fall meeting, Bishop Daly said that parental rights were being erased by public schools and even some Catholic schools that are “using pick your own pronouns” under the guise of “being affirming and welcoming.” He said that gender politics should have “no place” in the classroom and it is especially “tragic and sinful” when it occurs at Catholic institutions of higher learning.

The issue has become “rampant” in society, he said, referencing the rise in young people saying they are non-binary and transgender. He believed social media played a “significant part” in the embrace of such identities by teenagers and young adults.  

Bishop Daly views the affirming of gender ideology by society as rooted in a “misplaced compassion,” a term used by Pope St. John Paul II about euthanasia in Evangelium Vitae. He believes the tragic result of this well-meaning affirmation will be children becoming “the modern orphans of society,” because they have been “experimented upon” by “adults who really do not have the best interests of young people at heart.”

The U.S. bishops’ point man on education praised two documents as important resources on the issue: “A Catechesis on the Human Person and Gender Ideology,”a pastoral letter from Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia; and “Catechesis and Policy on Questions Concerning Gender Theory,” a guidance from Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee. 

In his 2021 pastoral letter, Bishop Burbidge wrote “the claim to ‘be transgender’ or the desire to seek ‘transition’ rests on a mistaken view of the human person, rejects the body as a gift from God, and leads to grave harm. To affirm someone in an identity at odds with biological sex or to affirm a person's desired ‘transition’ is to mislead that person. It involves speaking and interacting with that person in an untruthful manner.” He wrote that while we may “discern the best time to communicate the fullness of the truth,” in “no circumstances can we confirm a person in error.” 

In January, Archbishop Listecki wrote in his guidance on the issue that “our biological sex, expressed by our body, is a gift from God and is unchangeable,” and “a person’s ‘gender’ is inseparable from biological sex.” The document stated that “while biological sex and ‘gender’ — or the socio-cultural role of sex as well as ‘psychological identity’ — can be distinguished, they can never be separated. Should someone experience a tension between biological sex and ‘gender,’ they should know that this interior conflict is not sinful in itself but rather reflects ‘the broader disharmony caused by original sin’ and often results from the residue of social ills and cultural distortions of what constitutes ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity.’”

"Only by turning to Christ can one acknowledge and accept one’s sexual identity in every aspect — physical, moral, social, and spiritual — and only through such an acceptance can the human person in turn experience the freedom promised by Christ," the document said.

Both of these statements were released following the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education's 2019 document “Male and Female He Created Them,” which rejected gender theory and emphasized the “need to reaffirm the metaphysical roots of sexual difference, as an anthropological refutation of attempts to negate the male-female duality of human nature, from which the family is generated."

Bishop Daly praised these clear statements of Church teaching on the issue. When it comes to speaking out on such controversial cultural issues, he said that the bishops are “successors to the apostles and that doesn't mean membership in a country club, it means that we have to protect our flock.”

He is not alone in stressing the need for vocal and clear guidance from the bishops regarding gender ideology. Mark Sadd, chair of the National Advisory Council, a 48-member advisory body consisting of laity, priests, and religious, told the bishops during their fall meeting that the group “urgently” needs more “guidance on proper terms, approaches and Catholic teaching” on the issue of gender dysphoria.