Priest Says Gender-Neutral Children’s Clothing is “Demonic” and “Satanic”

Children modeling Celinununu’s clothing line

What is the problem with gender-neutral children’s clothing? It is “satanic” and “demonic” according to one Catholic priest.

Fr. John Esseff, who serves as an exorcist in Pennsylvania, offered his thoughts in an interview with a conservative Catholic news outlet, according to Romper. The priest was commenting specifically on a new children’s clothing line from singer Celine Dion known as Celinununu. He said:

“‘I’m convinced that the way this gender thing has spread is demonic, It’s false. I don’t even know how many genders there’s supposed to be now, but there are only two that God made. The devil is going after children by confusing gender.”

Esseff said further that the “organized mindset” behind the clothing line allegedly trying to influence children was “definitely satanic.”

This incident is the latest in priests using extreme rhetoric in relation to issues of gender and sexuality. Last year, a priest in Calgary said the rainbow flag was “nothing short of spitting and laughing in God’s face.” In Chicago, a priest defied Cardinal Blase Cupich by burning a rainbow flag in order to “cleanse” the parish to which he was assigned. In Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas Tobin described Pride celebrations as “morally offensive.” Language like these statement which polarizes and harms people is not appropriate, especially from pastoral ministers.

But this incident also speaks to underlying problems with Church teaching and strictly proscribed gender norms. Youth are greatly affected by these proscriptions, as when a lesbian student at a Catholic high school was ejected from prom for wearing a suit or when a Catholic school suspended a student for wearing a uniform divergent from their assigned sex. Bondings 2.0 has previously posted commentaries on how beliefs about gender complementarity are harmful to not only LGBT people, but many others.

Children’s clothing can be neither “demonic” nor “satanic” despite Fr. Esseff’s claims. But beyond just being wrong, his interview comments reveal once again that Church leaders need to reconsider both their pastoral approach to and theological understanding of gender. The current approach makes hyperbolic and damaging comments like Esseff’s far too permissible.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, January 21, 2019

6 replies
  1. Poolgirl2
    Poolgirl2 says:

    Such insanity! Have they thought about all the gowns and fineryvwirn by our clergy? In depictions of earlier styles, men and women wore the same types of clothing, at least in the outside – yoga style and drapes of fabrics.

    Renaissance men wore frills & heels! Nuns and priests gave worn similar habits, except for the head dress forever!

    I wear blue jeans, tennis shoes, & T-shirt’s as well as skirts, dresses, & pumps! I am not gender confused.


  2. Mary Jo
    Mary Jo says:

    Seems that the last time he did an exorcism (is that really allowed these days?) Satan may have found him a comfortable host.

  3. Kevin Welbes Godin
    Kevin Welbes Godin says:

    I recall many a seminary day when young seminarians would relish in being able to don a cassock. Even at a young age I would think those guys don’t have the right focus. In other words, they didn’t seem to be on the right path. Priests who are preoccupied with other people’s clothing might better focus their attention on giving away their fancy clothes to those that have little. Better yet, maybe spend some time on the streets with folks who really don’t care what they wear, but simply want to keep warm.

  4. Loretta
    Loretta says:

    Did this particular priest have any similar comments about the 300 plus priests who sexually abused of 1000 identified victims in Pennsylvania and the system that covers it up?


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