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Statement on the challenges posed by ‘Gender Ideology’

by the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy – British Province of Pope St. Gregory the Great

In recent times, the advance of ‘gender ideology’ has become impossible to ignore. Both Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have several times addressed this troubling phenomenon. As Catholic priests and deacons, we are very aware of the impact this agenda is having in our own communities. Increasingly we meet individuals in our parishes unable to accept the sex in which they were born. Often they believe they must ‘change’ their sex in order to find happiness. Sometimes these people can be very young, which causes anguish to their parents and anxiety to teachers and others concerned with their well-being. To suggest that a person cannot change their sex is immediately met with charges of hatred and bigotry. In this situation Catholics, and others of good will, frequently find themselves confused and uncertain.

Given this situation it seems very important to state Catholic teaching in this area clearly and simply.

Every human being is a unity of body and soul, constituting a single identity that encompasses every aspect of our being. While bodily defects can occur, even concerning sexual organs, they are clearly recognised as such and legitimately corrected. This is distinct from ‘gender ideology’ which states that our souls, or our psychological and spiritual faculties can be at variance in their sex, or ‘gender’ to that of our healthily functioning bodies. It is an undeniable fact that a small minority of people do find it difficult to accept their own sex, and seek to be identified as members of the opposite sex, or even to undergo some form of ‘gender reassignment’. Such individuals need to be treated with sensitivity but also with honesty. The solution to their dilemma is not to be found in rejecting their bodies or medically ‘correcting’ them, but in addressing the emotional and social factors that really give rise to this disassociation, known as ‘gender dysphoria’.

Christians believe that the body is important and fundamentally good – never a mere shell for an identity. The Scriptures make clear that sexual difference is not an accident or something superficial, but an integral part of God’s plan for humanity. ‘God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’ (Gen 1: 27). This being so, it is essential that every human being accept the sex they were born with, for this too is part of God’s plan, and of their own vocation. ‘Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2333). True and lasting happiness lies in accepting who it is that God has made us, for His plans for us are always plans of infinite love.

As Catholic priests and deacons we commit ourselves to proclaiming Catholic teaching in this area and to ministering with pastoral charity to those most effected. We deplore the fact that proponents of gender ideology often seek to advance their cause through polemic and propaganda which do nothing to help people who are often deeply troubled and whose situation requires patience and kindness. ‘Gender reassignment’ is never straightforward. A significant number of people who take this path will later regret it. Far from bringing happiness, it can have a significant impact on their mental health. Given this, the most charitable response to those struggling with issues of gender identity can often be to urge a time of waiting, prayer and reflection, which will make possible a change of direction. This is particularly the case with teenagers and young people who may be struggling to make sense of their lives – a situation not uncommon in adolescence – and for whom being exposed to this gender ideology at a vulnerable time may do real harm. It is especially unacceptable that children should be encouraged to seek medical interventions or to take hormones which may have serious effects on their future well-being.

Ultimately we know that it is in the truth of the Gospel and through the grace of the Sacraments that every human being can find the fulfilment that God intends for them. As members of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy we commit ourselves once again to proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, and to serving the people He has entrusted to us.


1st March 2018 – Feast of St David