LGBTQ Catholics and allies are responding critically to a new transgender policy set by the Diocese of Springfield’s Bishop Thomas Paprocki.
A petition has been released against Policy 650, which among other prohibitions threatens to fire church workers and expel students from Catholic schools if they do not live in conformity with their assigned sex, rather than their gender. Bondings 2.0 broke news of this policy, which went into effect in January, earlier this week.
DignityUSA has organized a petition which asks for “Bishop Paprocki to immediately withdraw this policy, and to enter into real dialogue with transgender people, families, and their medical and mental health care providers.” The petition is available here.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of the group, expressed “deep concern” over Policy 650 which “could cause real harm,” adding:
“It is long past time for our Church to stop making policy about transgender and gay people without including our expertise and trusting that our lives, too, incarnate the Divine. God speaks through all of us, not just bishops, cardinals and Vatican officials. To make these kinds of decisions based on flawed beliefs and long-disproved theories is cruel.”
Linda Roberts, a transgender Catholic involved with Dignity USA, commented that, “This policy will add to their sense of exclusion and shame and will make it more difficult for families to do the right thing for their transgender and nonbinary children.”
Dialogue is so essential in a case like this; imagine how different an outcome we could arrive at if our Church leaders would take the time to listen to actual transgender (and other LGBTQ) people with an open mind and open heart.
Faithful America also launched a petition which in just a couple days has gained more than 6,000 signatures. That petition claims Paprocki “taken his unchristian persecution and demonization of LGBTQ persons to an entirely new level.” It continues:
“All LGBTQ persons were created in the image of God. As fellow Christians, we call on you to repeal Policy 650 immediately, and to treat transgender persons with respect and dignity.”
You can sign Faithful America’s petition here.
The Diocese of Springfield has offered additional clarifications on the policy after it went into effect. KHQA-TV received this statement from the Diocese:
“These policies make clear that we are obligated to respect the biology given to us by God, while also supporting and loving those with gender dysphoria. This includes our churches and schools working with those with gender dysphoria to provide them a private bathroom. That is not only the compassionate approach, but it also respects the rights of others and helps keep all those entrusted to our care safe. In addition, these policies ensure fair competition in athletics.”
The statement goes on to reinforce the comparison of gender dysphoria to an eating disorder:
“The Catholic Church teaches that our identities as male and female are part of God’s design and are gifts from God, and that we must accept and care for our bodies as they were created. Additionally, as Catholics, we are called to compassion and empathy toward anyone who is confused about their identity. Much like it is wrong to encourage someone who suffers from anorexia and who believes he or she is overweight to eat less, encouraging or helping someone transition to another sex because that’s what he or she believes despite their biological truth, is morally wrong and endangers that person’s physical, psychological, and mental future.”
The policy denies someone the opportunity to receive confirmation of their deepest felt identity. Without being able to acknowledge this reality endangers individuals’ physical, psychological, and mental futures. According to The Trevor Project, 40% of transgender adults have reported a suicide attempt, 92% having made such an attempt before the age of 25. Many transgender people consider transitioning to be a life-saving decision.
—Melissa Feito, New Ways Ministry, February 15, 2020