New Ways Ministry Responds to New Vatican Document on Gender Identity
June 10, 2019
Statement of 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 that 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 and 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.