Bishop: Obama’s bathroom edict part of a ‘tyranny of tolerance’
LINCOLN, Nebraska, May 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Obama Administration directive for U.S. public schools to accept transgenderism as a condition of federal funding is disturbing and wrong, a Catholic bishop has said, and it denies the basic beauty of God’s creation.
Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, also said last week’s letter of “guidance” from the White House signified a broken culture and its rejection of God, tyrannical tolerance, and a mistaken sense of civil rights.
“This ‘guidance’ is deeply disturbing,” he said. “In fact, the administration’s action is simply wrong. It is wrong to deny the fundamental difference between men and women; and to teach children that our identity, at its very core, is arbitrary and self-determined. God created us male and female, and policies like this deny the basic beauty of God’s creation.”
Writing in his May 17 column, Bishop Conley stated, “Our entire culture has been caught up in a kind of sentimentalized and relativized tyranny of tolerance: we vilify and condemn, ever more quickly, any sense of reasonable and ordered social policy. We have a vague sense that endorsing certain fashionable kinds of social and emotional disorders—including transgenderism—is a mandate of justice, or a victory for civil rights.”
“This directive is a sign of a great tragedy,” the bishop wrote. “We are living in an atheocracy: a society determined to stamp out every vestige of God’s plan for mercy, and justice, and goodness.”
“We are living in a society ensnared by the evil of relativism,” he continued, “to which human flourishing, in this life and the next, poses a threat.”
Obama’s Departments of Justice and Education issued a joint letter of “guidance” to all public schools last Friday mandating that schools allow students identifying as “transgender” access to showers, locker rooms, and restrooms of the opposite sex, as well as let them stay in the same hotel rooms during field trips with members of the opposite sex, or risk losing federal funding.
Schools are not allowed to require “transgender” students to use separate facilities, according to the Obama Administration directive, and must reference “transgender” students by their chosen name and gender-identifying pronoun. Further, schools are permitted to conceal the status of “transgender”-identifying students from their parents.
“We are living in an atheocracy: a society determined to stamp out every vestige of God’s plan for mercy, and justice, and goodness.”
Two bishops at the helm of USCCB committees denounced the letter in a statement earlier this week.
Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone and Omaha Archbishop George Lucas called it “deeply disturbing,” saying it contradicts a basic understanding of human formation and fails to address the issues of individuals suffering with gender dysphoria.
All three Nebraska bishops, Omaha Archbishop George Lucas, Grand Island Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt and Bishop Conley, had opposed earlier this year a proposed policy for the state’s high school activities association to officially recognize subjective gender identity. The Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) Board of Directors later adopted the policy despite the bishops’ objection.
Bishop Conley called for “healing, not lamenting” in his column this week, and he called for people to stand up, saying the fight would not be easy or glamorous, and that it needed to be fought by speaking heart to heart with others about Christ’s healing. The bishop also emphasized the need for prayer.
He said moral relativism results in people facing real problems not receiving the help they need.
“But the real victims of our culture of relativism are those who suffer from serious problems, and who need compassionate help,” said Bishop Conley. “Pathological confusion about one’s own identity is a kind of illness. It brings tremendous personal and emotional difficulties. Transgenderism cries out for compassionate assistance.”
“Pope Francis says that ‘acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital,’ and ‘valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary’ for authentic human freedom,” the bishop continued.
Quoting the 6th century Roman senator and Christian philosopher Boethius, who critiqued disturbing trends he saw in Roman society, Lincoln’s bishop said in treating individuals as though their “gender identity” has changed, we “habituate men to their sickness, instead of curing them.”
The government edict ignores the real issue, Bishop Conley said, and is coercive, demonstrating how lost American society has become.
“The Obama administration’s directive is a sign of the brokenness of our culture; of our lost sense of the common good, of individual goodness, of true freedom, real rights, and authentic happiness,” the bishop wrote. He noted that Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts had pointed out that the directive “is basically a kind of coercive opinion, which does not enjoy the authority of law,” and “is a form of bullying.”
“Ultimately,” Bishop Conley added, “it is a sad sign of how much we have lost our way; how little of the Gospel’s good news forms and shapes our culture.”
The Lincoln prelate pledged to make every effort to assist families with children suffering from gender dysphoria, saying improvements could be made to that end.
“But the Church will not deny that God created us male and female,” he said. “We will not confuse respect and compassion with capitulation to a tragic delusion.”
The bishop also said caring for children mandated a commitment to the truth, promising to uphold it in the diocese’s schools no matter what.
“Our Catholic schools will continue to teach and live the truth, because of our care for every student,” said Bishop Conley. “We can only help students grow in holiness when we help them to live in accord with the truth. We will continue to do that, no matter the cost.”