Faith and transgender meet: US Catholic bishops’ bold step

Transgender catholic

In an unprecedented move, over a dozen US Catholic bishops convened at St Louis University in January for a private meeting aimed at deepening their understanding of transgender people.

The meeting sought to understand the challenges transgender people face. It included discussions with transgender individuals, their families, theologians, medical professionals and church ministry workers.

The move came against the backdrop of increasing state-based legislation and Catholic diocesan policies that critics argue negatively affect transgender individuals.

The meeting was organised by New Ways Ministry, a Catholic LGBTQ advocacy group.

New Ways Ministry, co-founded in 1977 by Loretto Sr Jeannine Gramick, has been at the forefront of advocacy for LGBTQ Catholics, despite facing historical opposition from the Vatican.

A step toward understanding

The day-and-a-half-long event, closed to both the public and press, sought to equip bishops with insights that would assist in enhancing pastoral care within their dioceses.

According to participants, the initiative reflects the varied reception and treatment of transgender individuals across Catholic dioceses and parishes nationwide.

Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky highlighted the consensus among attendees about the legitimacy of transgender experiences.

“After hearing from medical experts and from transgender people, we are not talking about something that is fabricated. People have a right to be called as they wish to be called” he said.

Engaging in dialogue

The meeting, attended by some 40 individuals, marks a significant moment of engagement between church leaders and the LGBTQ community.

“We’ve all encountered pastoral situations related to transgender persons and for the most part felt inadequately prepared to deal with them” Stowe noted, underscoring the bishops’ eagerness to attend and learn.

This gathering is the second of its kind following a previous event in January 2023 that focused on LGBTQ issues more broadly.

Moving forward

Participants shared their stories and experiences at the meeting, providing a platform for open and heartfelt dialogue.

Dominican Fr Charles Bouchard, a previous attendee, lauded the meetings as a “safe space” for bishops to discuss and explore these complex issues candidly.

While the meeting did not aim to produce a unified statement or theological plan, it represents a significant step in the church’s ongoing efforts to engage more inclusively with LGBTQ individuals.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to revise its ethical directives for Catholic health care institutions, with expectations to align closely with doctrinal stances on gender-affirming treatments.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , ,