A Washington-area Catholic bishop has issued a letter rebutting the transgender movement root and branch, calling gender reassignment “wrong and harmful” and saying everyone is male or female as seen in that person’s body.
“The Church teaches that a person is created male or female,” Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington wrote. “No one ‘is’ transgender.”
The document titled “A Catechesis on the Human Person and Gender Ideology” notes that public schools “aggressively promote” what the bishop called “a false understanding of the human person in their advocacy of gender ideology.”
“Parents with children in public school must … be even more vigilant and vocal against this false and harmful ideology,” Bishop Burbidge wrote.
The bishop noted that, similar to its teaching about homosexuality, the Catholic Church does not condemn feelings or inclinations, whether same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria.
“Every individual experiencing this condition should be treated with respect, justice, and charity,” he wrote, adding that the persons are not “immoral or bad.”
But “at the same time,” he wrote, “a person who deliberately rejects his or her given identity or the sexed body and seeks harmful medical or surgical interventions is pursuing a path that is objectively wrong and harmful on many levels.”
Bishop Burbidge said the church wants to lead people who feel discomfort with their biological sex “to the truth and to healing.” He warned against efforts to affirm such dysphoria as an identity as “pernicious” and a form of false charity.
“In this sensitive area of identity, however, there is a great danger of a misguided charity and false compassion,” the bishop wrote. “In this regard, we must recall, ‘Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral.’”
The bishop added that “to use names and pronouns that contradict the person’s God-given identity,” which includes biological sex as present before birth and in the body “is to speak falsely.”
He called unjust any mandates “by the state, corporations, or employers to compel such language, particularly by threats of legal action or job loss.”
Bishop Burbidge concluded his letter with an exhortation “for those struggling.”
He said they should not try “simplistic solutions that promise relief from your struggles by the change of name, pronouns, or even the appearance of your body. There are many who have walked that path before you only to regret it.”
He advised “the difficult but more promising path to joy and peace,” which he said “is to work with a trusted counselor, therapist, priest, and/or friend to come to an awareness of the goodness of your body and of your identity as male or female.”
“More than anything else, the Church desires to bring you the love of Jesus Christ Himself,” says the bishop. “That love is inseparable from the truth of who you are as one created in God’s image, reborn as a child of God, and destined for His glory.”