New Ways Ministry Responds to New Vatican Document on Gender Identity

The following is a statement from Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry:

The Vatican’s new document on gender identity, “Male and Female He Created Them,” is a harmful tool that will be used to oppress and harm not only transgender people, but lesbian, gay, bisexual people, too.  The document associates sexual and gender minorities with libertine sexuality, a gross misrepresentation of the lives of LGBT people which perpetuates and encourages hatred, bigotry, and violence against them.

The document, from the Congregation for Catholic Education, will confuse those who sincerely struggle with questions of gender identity and sexual orientation.  Such confusion leads to self-harm, addiction, and even suicide. The misinformation the document contains will cause families to reject their children, and it will increase alienation of LGBT people from the Church.

The only truth the document reveals is that the Vatican remains ill-equipped to discuss gender and sexuality in the modern world.   By ignoring new scientific understandings of gender identity, and by refusing to engage in dialogue with LGBT people about their lived experiences of self-understanding and faith, the Vatican remains in the dark ages, promoting a false teaching that relies on myth, rumor, and falsehoods. Because they have not consulted science or people’s experiences, the Vatican’s theology on gender is deficient and flawed.  It relies on categories of male and female that were shaped centuries ago in oppressive and repressive cultures.

The Vatican maintains the idea that gender is determined solely by visible genitalia, which contemporary science has shown is an incorrect and harmful way to categorize people.  Gender is also biologically determined by genetics, hormones, and brain chemistry–things not visible at birth.  People do not choose their gender, as the Vatican claims:  they discover it through their lived experiences. The Church should respect and encourage this process of discovery, because it is a process by which individuals discover the wonderful way that God has created them.

Although the Vatican calls the Church to dialogue and listen to people, dialogue and listening are thwarted and useless if church leaders have already determined that the people they are listening to are influenced by ideology.  Dialogue requires mutual respect, which this document does not exhibit or promote.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, June 10, 2019

25 replies
  1. Juliana Boerio-Goates
    Juliana Boerio-Goates says:

    Could you post a link to this document, please? I searched the Vatican website and didn’t find it posted there under the Congregation for Catholic Education. Your website is one of the most helpful in keeping informed on LGBTQ issues. Thanks.

    • Francis DeBernardo, Editor
      Francis DeBernardo, Editor says:

      Thanks! We had some technical difficulties in doing so, but just succeeded. There’s a link to the document in the first line of the post now.

      • Betty Ledesma
        Betty Ledesma says:

        Men idea of “God” a reflection of themselves
        Blinded by ego, their *God has opinions, likes and dislikes. Appalling their short
        sided vision of a Cosmic Source.

  2. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    What do you when the hierarchical Church continues to become a challenge to one’s faith? If God is merciful and loving, why do those who claim to be his ministers continue to block the door way to the Church that is to bring us comfort. We can continue to believe and not see, but how much longer?

  3. Barry Blackburn
    Barry Blackburn says:

    Dear Francis DeBernardo,
    Thank you for this posting which shocked me. I’m still almost trembling with disbelief. We must continue to speak our truth and THE truth of the latest science etc. But this latest Vatican document is so disheartening. But we just celebrated Pentecost and I know we will get through to the Vatican sooner than later. We must also remember that we live and breathe and have our being NOT under the shadow of Vatican Daddy but within our wisdom and lived experience in the Spirit. We must, if only for the sake of those who need us. Keep fighting the good fight!

  4. Thomas Smith
    Thomas Smith says:

    “God created them male AND female.” God did NOT create them male OR female. Let’s use the scriptures to refute these false claims! We are all “male and female” (non-dualistically speaking).

  5. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    “…the Vatican remains in the dark ages, promoting a false teaching that relies on myth, rumor, and falsehoods.”

    Two things stood out for me when I read the report in the NCR about this document. One was the document’s referral to one of the creation myths in Genesis for its argument: “God made them male and female.”

    The other thing that stood out was its dismissal of intersex people and its reliance on doctors to make decisions about gender assignments: “In cases where a child is born with ambiguous genitalia, it says ‘it is medical professionals who can make a therapeutic intervention.

    “‘In such situations, parents cannot make an arbitrary choice on the issue, let alone society,’ it recommends. ‘Instead, medical science should act with purely therapeutic ends, and intervene in the least invasive fashion, on the basis of objective parameters and with a view to establishing the person’s constitutive identity.'”

    And so doctors are to decide on a child’s gender – a practice which has had disastrous consequences for many individuals who have had no say in their own experience of gender, an experience which may be at odds with the doctor’s decisions.

    Once again, Roman Catholic Church officials have made fools of themselves, attacking what they call “gender theory” with myths and theories about gender and sexuality which are devoid of any connection with real people and real science.

    • Sarasi
      Sarasi says:

      You make a great point and one that the Intersex community has already spoken out about. They have been saying for some time that ambiguous sexual organs are not a pathology and should not be meddled with or removed. The physician cannot decide gender identity for the person and should not be making these decisions. Another area where the Vatican is woefully ignorant. However, there is an additional issue in that it rejects sex ambiguity too, so Intersex people also have a hill to climb.

  6. Lindsey Pembrooke
    Lindsey Pembrooke says:

    For the first time, I feel specifically uninvited from the Catholic Church. My Church.

    I read this and know it contains ignorance because I am how God has made me, and the information in this Vatican document does not reflect the “me” that God has created.

    The entire document relies heavily on this illusion that who I am is a “choice”. I don’t get to speak for “everybody”, but I would find it hard to believe that most would “choose” to be binary or non-binary transgender, or intersex.

    The only choice that has occurred is to recognize exactly how we have been made and to stop pretending that it is not true. What ever God’s intentions are for the gifts God has given me, it all starts with recognizing that in fact they are gifts and that I have a choice to bury these talents in the sand, or to try to use them for the greater glory of God.

  7. Paul Ferris
    Paul Ferris says:

    The church needs to rethink its understanding of the sexual person. It elevates chastity to an unrealistic ideal meaning all sexual pleasure outside of procreation is a sin and according to Augustine even then the pleasure is a venial sin. The tragedy is the male clergy themselves have compromised this ideal in the worse way. No hypocrisy more than this drives people out of and away from the Catholic Church.

    Reading this document made me angry. It is perverse to keep calling for dialogue while at the same time building one straw man after another against the experience of people and discoveries of science. The truth goes beyond the pseudo intellectual BS of this document. Its interpretation of Genesis “ male and female He made them” is nothing more than “knowledge by taking a look.” Faith and reason can transcend such simple reading of the Bible.

  8. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    I am encouraged that editors at New Ways took this Vatican paper to task. I read ” Male and Female He created Them ” in its entirety. It smacks of ‘knowing better than thou’ and is condescending in tone.
    Maybe it is designed to appeal to a certain “base”. Maybe the Vatican actually beleves it. The occasional remark from Francis taken as supportive, ground breaking or encouraging gets swept away by this newest Vatican perspective. Meanwhile, we await the next scandal from these very same lofty men. Please.

  9. Lee Anne
    Lee Anne says:

    Dear Vatican,
    It’s not a choice. Being a science denier is a choice. Being transphobic is a choice. Being a member of a pedophile infested religion is a choice. You’ve obviously made your choice. Let me and my fellow sisters and brothers live our lives in peace.
    May the rainbow bless you and keep you
    May the rainbow shine it’s light upon you
    And give you peace.
    Lee Anne Leland

  10. Ann
    Ann says:

    Not surpriseing from a backward looking institution.
    Sadly this attitude will have a detremental effect on so many peoples lives.
    Shame on them.

  11. Timothy Kahanak
    Timothy Kahanak says:

    The Vatican also told Galileo that the Earth revolves around the sun. It only took 500 to apologize for that mistake.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] New Ways Ministry Responds to New Vatican Document on Gender Identity (New Ways Ministry) […]

  2. […] Today reports: ‘LGBTQ Catholics denounced the document, stating that it “will cause families to reject their children, and it will increase alienation […]

  3. […] die Rechte von Lesben, Schwulen, Bisexuellen und Transmenschen in der katholischen Kirche einsetzt, äußert sich vorwurfsvoll gegenüber dem Vatikan. Das Papier sei ein „schädliches Werkzeug“, welches das Potential habe, […]

  4. […] document has been criticized by LGBTQ and allied Catholics, including Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry, a church that connects the LGBTQ community and the Catholic […]

  5. […] Ways Ministry, a US-based ministry which advocates for LGBTQ Catholics, slammed the document as a “harmful tool that will be used to oppress and harm not […]

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