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(LifeSiteNews) — It seems that gender ideology is everywhere today. We see it in our schools, in our athletics, everywhere. And yet, what exactly does the Catholic Church teach about it, and how should we as Catholics deal with those close to us who suffer from gender dysphoria?

John Bursch, senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy at the Alliance Defending Freedom and author of Loving God’s Children: The Church and Gender Ideology, joins me on this episode of The John-Henry Westen Show to discuss the issue.

Commenting on what the Church teaches in the area of gender ideology, Bursch states that the Church has taught for thousands of years that people are not men and women trapped in specific bodies, but that we are “embodied souls,” and that our bodies say something about who we are. It is for this reason, he continues, that Catholics celebrate the reunion of body and soul in heaven at the end of time.

With regard to Pope Francis, Bursch points out that he has been “crystal clear” on the Church’s teachings on gender identity, in spite of meetings he has made in the past with gender-confused people. 

“He has said in no uncertain terms that it’s a tragedy, that it’s terrible that we’re teaching kids in schools that they can be a gender identity that’s different from their sex,” Bursch notes. “He has said in encyclicals and public statements that if you deny the reality of your body as male or female, that you are rejecting a gift from God, and it puts a barrier between you and other people and prevents any meaningful, intimate human relationships.” 

Bursch also points to the recent document put out by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) about gender theory and Catholic health care, as well as the actions of about 30 American dioceses whereby Catholic teaching on gender was put in place in schools, with the theology in some of the documents pointing out that the soul/body distinction made by gender ideology comes from the Gnostic heresy of the early Church.

When I ask him what we should make of churchmen such as Cardinals Blaise Cupich of Chicago and Robert McElroy of San Diego, as well as Jesuit priest James Martin, Bursch explains that we should speak up because of what it means to “authentically love someone.” “If you’re not speaking in truth, then any attempt that you’re making to help someone is going to be the opposite of love. It’s going to make things worse for them.”

Commenting on Martin specifically, Bursch tells me that in his specific case, the issue is one of welcoming people with open arms, and, having done so, failing to tell them the truth of the Church’s teaching on the issue. For this reason, Bursch says, Martin’s attempt to “build bridges” will fail. “Not only will [those people] suffer all kinds of heartache in this life because they are not following God’s plan to make them the person that God wants them to be, but ultimately… they can lose their salvation.”

Later in the episode, Bursch addresses how to combat gender ideology in our families, offering three steps.

First, Bursch addresses how to inoculate our families from gender theory. To do this, he recommends limiting the input of social media and contemporary culture, noting that gender activists are ubiquitous on YouTube and TikTok and also push their agenda on television.

Second, he recommends being educated on the issue to discuss “God’s plan for the human body and why it’s better than the world’s plan for the human body.”

Finally, he recommends approaching our loved ones affected by gender theory with “compassion and empathy.” “You need to let them know that you’re… on their side, but to start to ask questions based on the knowledge that you’ve learned,” he says.

The John-Henry Westen Show is available by video on the show’s YouTube channel and right here on my LifeSite blog.

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John-Henry is the co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of He and his wife Dianne have eight children and they live in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada.

He has spoken at conferences and retreats, and appeared on radio and television throughout the world. John-Henry founded the Rome Life Forum, an annual strategy meeting for life, faith and family leaders worldwide. He is a board member of the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family. He is a consultant to Canada’s largest pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition, and serves on the executive of the Ontario branch of the organization. He has run three times for political office in the province of Ontario representing the Family Coalition Party.

John-Henry earned an MA from the University of Toronto in School and Child Clinical Psychology and an Honours BA from York University in Psychology.