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Telling kids they can ‘change’ sex is harmful: US Catholic bishops with other faith leaders

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WASHINGTON, December 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – “Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can ‘change’ their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults.” So says a letter released Friday and initiated by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and joined by faith leaders from the Lutherans, Anglicans, Orthodox, Presbyterians, and Southern Baptists. One Islamic representative also signed the document.

“Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt,” the statement says.

The bishops and other religious leaders denounce transgender ideology, calling it a “false idea” that a man could become a woman or a woman a man. 

“The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation,” they state. 

The religious leaders chastise medical doctors for giving harmful advice to parents. They call on the government to support the biological reality of a male/female duality. “Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of ‘first, do no harm,’" said the faith leaders. “The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.”

Catholic bishops who signed the document are:

  • Archbishop Charles Chaput, of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth,
  • Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and
  • Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs signed the letter.

New Ways Ministry, an LGBT group historically denounced by the Catholic Church but recently promoted by Vatican consultant Fr. James Martin and newly appointed Lexington Bishop John Stowe has  slammed the statement, calling it “dangerous.” 

“This statement is dangerous because it distributes false information which can lead to attitudes, policies, and practices which will do physical and emotional harm to transgender people, a community already with a high risk of becoming victims of hate crimes,” wrote Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry in a statement. 

DeBernardo went on to suggest that God’s creating mankind as male and female is “insufficient” since gender, he argued, can be determined by “internal self-understanding” and other factors. 

In the USCCB-initiated statement, the religious leaders argue that their position is founded not only upon reason, but also on God’s revelation to mankind.

“We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27),” they state.

The full statement is below:

Created Male and Female: An Open Letter from Religious Leaders

December 15, 2017

Dear Friends: 

As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. We reiterate that natural marriage continues to be invaluable to American society. 

We come together to join our voices on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one's sex as male or female. 

We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27). 

A person's discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love. 

Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can "change" their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of "first, do no harm." Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it. 

The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation. 

We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person's sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity. 

Sincerely Yours: 

Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera 
Bishop of Scranton
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs 

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach 
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America 

The Rev. John F. Bradosky
Bishop
North American Lutheran Church 

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia 
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth 

Most Rev. James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln
Chairman USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage 

The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey
Bishop, Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic 
Anglican Church in North America 

Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
President
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod 

Imam Faizal Khan
Founder and Leader
Islamic Society of the Washington Area 

Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville 
Chairman USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty 

Melchisedek 
Archbishop of Pittsburgh 
Orthodox Church in America 

The Rt. Rev. Eric V. Menees
Bishop, San Joaquin 
Anglican Church in North America 

Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III 
Founder and Director 
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies 
Church of God in Christ 

Rev. Dr. Gregory P. Seltz, PhD 
Executive Director 
The Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty 

The Rev. Paull Spring 
Bishop Emeritus 
The North American Lutheran Church 

Rev. Tony Suarez 
Executive Vice President 
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference 

Very Rev. Nathanael Symeonides 
Ecumenical Officer 
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America 

The Rev. Dr. L. Roy Taylor 
Stated Clerk, General Assembly 
Presbyterian Church in America 

Andrew Walker 
Director of Policy Studies 
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission 

The Rev. Dr. David Wendel 
Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism 
The North American Lutheran Church  

Paul Winter 
Elder 
Bruderhof 

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