Pope Francis Decries “Manipulation of Sexual Difference”

The following text is a statement by Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry, on Pope Francis’ October 5th statement on gender transition:

Pope Francis has once again entered the discussion of transgender issues with a statement that reveals the pontiff does not yet comprehend issues of gender identity.

Pope Francis

In a statement to the Pontifical Academy for Life’s general assembly, he said:

“The biologic and psychological manipulation of sexual difference, which biomedical technology allows one to see as open to free choice – which it’s not! – is thus likely to dismantle the source of energy that nourishes the alliance of man and woman and makes it creative and fruitful.”

(You can read the entire text of his talk by clicking here.)

By referring to transgender people’s desires to transition as “manipulation” and a “free choice” Pope Francis shows that he does not understand that for transgender people, a transition is a discovery and affirmation of who God created them to be.  Gender is more than a biological reality.  It also includes psychological, emotional, cultural, and spiritual dimensions.  When some people seek surgery to confirm their gender identity, they are celebrating their God-given identities.  A decision to transition is often made after many years of confusion and turmoil, as well as many forms of discernment with medical, psychological, and spiritual authorities.

In another section of his talk, the pontiff said that men and women “were created, in their blessed difference; together they have sinned, for their presumption to replace God; . . . to honor the care of the world and the history that He has entrusted to them.”

Transgender people actually acknowledge the importance of gender since they recognize how important it is for them to live as their authentic gender, not by the gender assigned to them at birth which was based on the minimal evidence of external genitalia.  Transgender people see this difference as “blessed,” as God-given, not something that they chose.  Their quest for authenticity is a quest for holiness.  They seek to “honor the care” of the identity and life that they have been given.

To say that transgender people are acting against the plan of God is actually itself a rejection of God’s plan for these sacred human beings.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, October 6, 2017


9 replies
  1. Miriam
    Miriam says:

    You nailed it, Robert. Let’s pray (and even ask) that our pope encourage dialogue and understanding of intersex and transex people, who are part of creation.

  2. Fr Anthony
    Fr Anthony says:

    I agree completely with Shine. The Pope is wrong. Biology goes wrong sometimes. God wants us to correct what is wrong. That is God’s will.

  3. Chris
    Chris says:

    Bravo Bob. Sadly a pope stuck in the Middle Ages. How on earth or in heaven can those who educate him be educated. Transgendered, intersex, other diversity are actually a deeper meaning of gender, ‘making them male and female’, not a rejection of it. These older men sadly will not give it a chance to begin to understand.Terrible thing is how many will have to suffer before they do. Because remember the truth somehow, someway can’t be hidden forever. Best to you all.

    DON E SIEGAL says:

    Pope Francis Decries

    “[T]he pontiff does not yet comprehend issues of gender identity.”

    The pontiff and I are within six months the same age. I could have had the same view as he about gender identity except for two things. The first is that at age twelve (sixth grade) I became aware that I was gay. I grappled with that for the next fourteen years. Ultimately, I spent three years of intense discernment with the help of a psychologist. I hasten to add that it was not “corrective” therapy; rather, he used a protocol of treatment called client centered therapy. It consisted of discerning who Don was and what makes Don tick. (A rare find in the early sixties.) I remember the concluding day with Dr. Olivera as if it were yesterday. At the end of the appointment, my concluding words to my doctor were, “If I’m going to be a gay man, then I’ll be the best gay man that I possibly can be.”

    The second reason is because of satellite gatherings at the World Gathering of Families in Philadelphia 2015. New Ways Ministry was one of several advocacy groups that co sponsored the satellite symposium. It was here that I was able to meet transgender and intersex persons and have conversations with them. This forum provided a great enlightenment in me concerning the T & I part of the LGBTI complex.

    As long as one refuses to understand or is unwilling to become intellectually informed on a social issue, one will remain ill-informed. Therefore, we as advocates must be vigilant not to call such persons bigots or haters. These are not the sources of their misinformation.

    Finally, if anyone has any doubts about the many years of discernment that transgender persons experience, I strongly recommend read Caitlyn Jenner’s book, “The Secrets of My Life.”

  5. Barry Blackburn
    Barry Blackburn says:

    Experience is the best teacher! When I was a child I had a very powerful experience that taught me to be patient as a teen growing in to my identity and later to my coming out as gay. In the schoolyard one day when I was in approximately grade five I witnessed a boy in a hysterical state of distress. He was yelling to a teacher (I don’t know the context), “I’m NOT a boy! I’m a girl” and he kept repeating this. After a short time, I approached him to comfort him and to reassure him that, of course, he was a boy–big mistake because he began to repeat that he was indeed a girl. I was too young to be able to understand this child’s distress. The only thing I could think of next was to invite the student to play in the schoolyard. I never saw this child again. I’ve since had nothing but awe and respect for the reality of a trans identity. Francis DeBernardo’s insights are correct! Experience!

  6. James Wysocki
    James Wysocki says:

    I think you are right. Pope Francis is trying to express the traditional teaching of the Church about sex and marriage by manipulating the language. He’s trying but I think he knows the truth about gender identity.


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