New Vatican Gender Document Is “Nothing More Than Putting Lipstick on a Pig,” Says Journalist

Robert Mickens

The Congregation for Catholic Education’s document on gender, Male and Female He Created Them, has continued to generate commentary and criticism. Today’s post highlights some of these newer reactions with links provided for further reading, where available. For Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage of the document, including New Ways Ministry’s statement and previous reactions, click here.

Vatican journalist Robert Mickens wrote in La Croix International  that the Vatican’s call for dialogue in the document “is nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig.” Mickens continued:

“It could be shucked off and ignored for the bogus attempt that it is, except that the text itself amounts to a cruel and insensitive judgment on the consciences (and motives) of real people, especially those who feel and have discovered themselves to be transgender.”

But Mickens said given the author is unclear and the Vatican worked hard to downplay its release, it looks “very much like crumbs for conservatives.” He ventured that Catholics supportive of Pope Francis, however, will not abandon the pope over a document he did not sign and likely did not seek to be published. These Catholics, Mickens claimed, “know this pope’s actions speak louder than words.”

The LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council issued a June 14, 2019 statement in which it said the document “doesn’t provide anything particularly new” about the Church’s teachings on gender, but the group remained committed to dialogue:

“- We have valued the listening process with trans Catholics initiated under the auspices of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England & Wales and its 20 April 2018 Statement on Gender which commits to ongoing ‘listening’ and pastoral support. . .

“- We are committed to working with the church (both in Farm Street Church and Westminster Diocese as a whole) to build a welcoming environment for LGBT Catholics, their families and friends.”

David Albert Jones

David Albert Jones, an English bioethicist, commented on the document in The Tablet (June 15, 2019). He said the document’s guide for dialogue (listening, reasoning, proposing) was good, and “had this method been followed more faithfully, this would have been a fresh and inspiring document.” But Jones identified two problems that resulted from the lack of dialogue, which he says “has yet to begin”:

“First. . .the Congregation for Catholic Education does not name, quote, or reference any actual advocate of gender theory. Instead it states that this or that view ‘was suggested’ or ‘was seen as’ or ‘was applied to sexuality,’ but never where, or by whom. This approach risks combining the views of people who in fact disagree with each other, and of attacking views that few, if anyone, actually holds.” . . .

“This brings us to the second and more fundamental problem. There is an urgent need for careful and respectful dialogue about gender identity, but this dialogue must begin with those most affected. . .What is most needed is not dialogue about an abstract ‘gender theory’ but dialogue with gender variant people – to discover what they experience and believe.”

Ed Smith, a baptized Catholic writing at Raw Story, challenged Male and Female He Created Them as not only misguided when it comes to science and sociology, but as an ahistorical document which ignores the Church’s tradition. He wrote:

“Beyond the unassailable secular critiques of the Vatican’s recent comments on gender theory, there are historical criticisms that can be leveled against it. To claim that the Vatican’s recent statement is incorrect from both medical and sociological positions is one thing, but I’d venture that the it also suffers from a profound sense of historical amnesia too, as demonstrated by the icons and mosaics of Sergius and Bacchus which hang in Roman basilicas. . .

“Our understandings of romance, family, sexuality, and gender have been in flux in the past – within the Church no less – and no amount of thundering about ‘How the Vatican views it now is how it has always been’ can change that. And as [historian John] Boswell’s studies make clear, there are Catholic traditions from the past that are preferable to today, with current opinions having more to do with right-wing social politics than with actual Christian history.”

For Bondings 2.0‘s full cover of Male and Female He Created Them, click here. Below are a few such commentaries which may interest you:

June 10, 2019: “New Ways Ministry Responds to Vatican Document on Gender Identity” by Francis DeBernardo

June 11, 2019: LGBTQ-Related Excerpts from Male and Female He Created Themselected by Robert Shine

June 13, 2019:  “The Vatican’s New Document on Gender: Is There Hope?” by Deacon Ray Dever

June 15, 2019, “Vatican’s Gender Document Harms ALL, Not Just LGBTQI Folks” by Professor Cristina Traina

June 16, 2019, “High Court 1975 Decision Points to Alternative Vatican Path on Gender Identity Issues” by Dr. Jennifer Haselberger

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 21, 2019

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