Diocesan hermit announces transgender identity

diocesan hermit

In a groundbreaking move within the Catholic Church, Brother Christian Matson, a diocesan hermit, has announced plans to come out as transgender.

“This Sunday, Pentecost 2024, I’m planning to come out publicly as transgender” Matson told Religion News Service on May 17.

Matson, who has a doctorate in religious studies, said he was speaking out with the permission of his bishop, John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington in Kentucky.

He may be the first openly trans person in his role in the Catholic Church, Matson added. However, Religious News Service was not able to verify that claim.

Matson, 39, explained that he transitioned in college and converted to Catholicism four years later.

He hoped his coming out would create a meaningful conversation about a particularly contentious subject in the community.

“You’ve got to deal with us, because God has called us into this Church” Matson said in his message about transgender Catholics.

Matson’s coming out came soon after the Vatican issued “Dignitas Infinita”, a 20-page treatise that described gender theory, abortion and surrogacy as attacks on humanity’s connection with God.

“Vatican-level documents that have come out on the subject have not engaged with the science at all” Matson said about the Church’s official take on trans issues.

He has sent multiple letters to the Vatican and asked leaders to engage with more trans individuals.

To serve the church

When he felt called to serve in the Church, Matson consulted a canon lawyer about his options. He was advised that becoming a diocesan hermit would be the best thing for him.

However several communities had rejected Matson before he finally found a place in Kentucky.

Seeing Matson’s sincere call to serve, Bishop Stowe approved his path as a diocesan hermit—a solitary religious vocation less bound by community restrictions.

“Hermits are a rarely used form of religious life, but they can be either male or female” Stowe explained. This allowed Matson to live his vocation without pursuing priesthood or sacramental ministry.

Matson’s coming out aims to foster dialogue and greater understanding within the Church.

“I don’t have a hidden agenda, I just want to serve the Church” he said. “People can believe that or not.”

Both Matson and Bishop Stowe anticipate potential backlash but remain committed to this path. Stowe emphasised that “My willingness to be open to him is because it’s a sincere person seeking a way to serve the Church.”


Religion News Service

New York Times

CathNews New Zealand


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