The Transgender Culture Wars

A few weeks ago, readers of the New York Post were confronted with a story whose sensational title was characteristic of the tabloid: “I’m a Guy Again! ABC newsman who switched genders wants to switch back.” Replete with pictures of Don Ennis both as a woman and a man, the article informed readers that the ABC news editor “strolled into the newsroom last May wearing a little black dress and an auburn wig and announced he was transgender and splitting from his wife. He wanted to be called Dawn.”

By August, Ennis said that he had suffered a bout of amnesia, which led to the realization that he wants to live his life again as Don. The newsman is now asking his co-workers and “all who accepted me as a transgender to now understand that I was misdiagnosed…I am already using the men’s room and dressing accordingly.” He also has reassured the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community that “even though I will not wear the wig or the makeup or the skirts again, I promise to remain a strong straight ally, a supporter of diversity and an advocate for equality and other LGBT issues including same-sex marriage.”

It is no surprise that Ennis would feel compelled to continue his support of the LGBT community—even though he is no longer participating in the transgender lifestyle. It is likely that if he were viewed as unsupportive of those who experience gender-identity disorder, he would be quickly ostracized in his newsroom community—and beyond.

Transgender issues have been prominent in the news all summer. Most recently, on August 22 Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified documents, announced that he intends to begin hormone treatments so he can live the rest of his life as a woman named Chelsea. Claiming that the Army’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy contributed to psychological problems and to his gender-identity disorder, Manning has stated that he wants to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. The Army has said that it does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery, but Manning’s lawyers have said they hope the military “does the right thing” and pays for the treatment, so that the soldier does not have to sue in military or civilian court.

Catholic Teachings on Transgender Issues
Catholics are called to treat all—including all within the LGBT community—with compassion. Yet the Church maintains that people may not change what Pope Benedict XVI has called “their very essence.” In a speech at the Vatican last December, Pope Benedict directly addressed transgender issues by cautioning Catholics about “destroying the very essence of the human creature through manipulating their God-given gender to suit their sexual choices.” Pope Benedict warned that “when freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God.”

Certainly, Church teaching allows for the acknowledgment that there can be a biological reason for gender-identity disorder. But it also allows for the possibility of other dimensions to this disorder—a sociological dimension and a psychological dimension—that can never be addressed through cross-dressing or surgical intervention.

But, in the secular world, it has become heretical even to suggest such a thing. In fact, it has become heretical even to suggest that we should not be celebrating the transgender movement. Most recently, a faithful Catholic friend of mine posted a casual observation on Facebook, suggesting that a television cooking show called “Chopped” might not be the appropriate venue for a discussion of transgender issues. The host of the show lauded one of the participants on the program for being transgender. My friend casually—and respectfully—mentioned the television program in a Facebook post. He was immediately suspended from Facebook.

It is clear that Facebook is not a place that allows debate on what has now been defined as the biological origins of gender-identity disorder. Facebook shut down that debate at once. But, fortunately, there are still safe places where we can ask a question such as: What about people—many of them psychiatrists and sociologists—who think that gender-identity disorder may have a psychological or a sociological basis, rather than an entirely biological basis? In the past it was possible to ask this kind of question.

Contagion Theory
In 2000, an article titled “A New Way to be Mad,” written by physician and philosopher Carl Elliott and published in The Atlantic, asked this kind of question. In his article, Elliott suggested “that our cultural and historical conditions have not just revealed transsexuals but have created them. That is, once ‘transsexual’ and ‘gender-identity disorder’ and ‘sex-reassignment surgery’ became a common linguistic occurrence, more people began conceptualizing and interpreting their experience in these terms. They began to make sense of their lives in a way that hadn’t been available to them before, and to some degree they actually became the kinds of people described by these terms.”

Elliott writes that gender identity disorder is

far more complicated than the ‘trapped in the wrong body’ summary would suggest. For some patients seeking sex-reassignment surgery, the wish to live as a member of the opposite sex is itself a sexual desire. Ray Blanchard, a psychologist at the University of Toronto’s Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, studied more than 200 men who were evaluated for sex-reassignment surgery.

According to Elliot, Blanchard found

an intriguing difference between two groups: men who were homosexual and men who were heterosexual, bisexual, or asexual. The women trapped in a man’s body tag fit the homosexual group relatively well. As a rule, these men had no sexual fantasies about being a woman; only 15 percent said they were sexually excited by cross-dressing, for example. Their main sexual attraction was to other men.

Not so for the men in the other group—almost all were excited by fantasies of being a woman… But here sexual desire is all about sexual identity—the sexual fantasy is not about someone or something else but about yourself.  Anne Lawrence, a transsexual physician and champion of Blanchard’s work, calls this group “men trapped in men’s bodies.”

Dr. Paul McHugh, psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was so concerned about the psychological origins of gender-identity disorder that he halted the practice of sex-reassignment surgery at his institution. He wrote about this decision in the November 2004 issue of First Things and concluded that the research demonstrated that Johns Hopkins should no longer participate in what he called “unusual and radical treatment” for “mental disorders.” McHugh, like Blanchard, identified two different groups seeking sex-reassignment:

One group consisted of guilt-ridden homosexual men who saw a sex change as a way to resolve their conflicts over homosexuality by allowing them to behave sexually as females with men. The other group, mostly older men, consisted of heterosexual and some bisexual males who found intense sexual arousal in cross-dressing as females.

McHugh began to realize that continuing sex-reassignment surgery at Johns Hopkins was “fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness,” concluding that “as psychiatrists, I thought, we would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia.”

An Increase in Gender-identity Disorder in Children
Several weeks ago, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed a controversial bill into law allowing transgender public school students to use bathrooms and play on sports teams that fit their preferred gender identities. The law will cover the state’s 6.2 million public elementary and high school students.

As advocates for the gay and lesbian social movement have done for decades, advocates of the California law claim that it will reduce bullying against transgender students. Masen Davis, the executive director of the Transgender Law Center, said, “Now every transgender student in California will be able to get up in the morning knowing that when they go to school as their authentic self they will have the same fair chance at success as their classmates.”

Carl Elliott’s prescient observation that cultural and historical conditions have not just revealed transsexuals but may actually be creating them has shown itself to be correct in the years since his Atlantic article appeared. “Transsexual” and “gender-identity disorder” have become common terms, and more people have interpreted their own experience according to these terms—some have even done so for their children. In the past, parents who “cross-dressed” their young children or raised them as the opposite of their biological gender were viewed negatively. They are now empowered to do so.

In June, World Magazine reported on a case in which a Colorado school district was accused of discriminating against a six-year-old boy because it would not allow him to use the girls’ bathroom. According to a report by the state’s Civil Rights Division released by the family’s attorney, the child has “identified as a female since an early age,” and has attended school as a girl since kindergarten. He used the girls’ restroom in kindergarten until late 2012, when the principal informed the parents that little Coy would have to use the boys’ restroom or a gender-neutral staff lavatory. Coy’s parents withdrew him from school and filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

These kinds of cases will continue to emerge. California is only the first state to pass a law like this. School officials in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, and Colorado have adopted similar regulations and guidelines. And, once again, Catholic teachings on transgender issues will be contested. Pope Benedict was courageous in speaking out on this, but a papal pronouncement may be of little help to those of us on the front-lines in the coming transgender culture wars.

Editor’s note: This essay first appeared August 27, 2013 in Catholic World Report and is reprinted with permission.

Anne Hendershott


Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. She is the author of Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education; The Politics of Abortion; and The Politics of Deviance (Encounter Books). She is also the co-author of Renewal: How a New Generation of Priests and Bishops are Revitalizing the Catholic Church (2013).

  • PiusFan

    We’re in for a rough time.

  • somnipod

    Strange days indeed…

  • Watosh

    When Russia recently passed a law making it illegal to propagandize children with the homosexual lifestyle, the world reacted in a storm of vitriol in the mass media and there was a move to boycott the summer Olympics in Russia. Now while I believe President Obama is a disaster, much as his predecessor also was, I would like to point out that it is a mistake to blame him for the advances made by the LGBT movement. The mass media has been solidly behind this, and has been very effectively campaigning for the LGBT movement. Remember too how Catholic Vice President Joe Biden came out for same sex marriage before President Obama committed to support it. So it will get worse.

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  • roxwyfe

    And as we slowly descend into the maelstrom of madness, please look out the window on the left side of the plane to watch as these “he/she/it” persons contribute to the madness surrounding us. Alice during her trip to Wonderland never encountered things as bizarre as we have in our real world. Curiouser and curiouser.

    • Adam__Baum

      Somehow, your description reminds me of the “Twilight Zone”, specifically the episode with a young William Shatner seeing some creature tearing the wing of the airplane apart. In this world, that’s reality.

      • ChrisSanchez

        My then-nine- and eleven-year-old daughters shrieked big time when they saw that creature on the wing. We were ROFL big time afterwards. That was a great moment.

        • ChrisSanchez

          We were watching a DVD of it some years back. I didn’t have an eleven year old daughter 50 years ago when it originally aired!

  • Dee Omally

    the comments below take a sensationalized story like the one above and reach false conclusions. Certainly we who are transgender, rather we who have a TH (trans history), like any other group within civilized society, include in our populace persons with genuine mental or other ailments. This article however makes the overt implication that seeking to change one’s sex/gender is the product of a mental illness/disorder.

    I challenge you to consider this: set aside the stereotype that a transgender person is a sexually promiscuous person. Certainly, some of us are but is being sexually promiscuous the product of being a member of any “group” or is it a personal trait/desire/choice? Remember that unless you personally know one of us, you get your “knowledge” primarily from those who are not transgender but present us in a false sensational stereotypical manner (TV, movies, stories like the one above.)

    I further challenge you to consider this: as a Christian, I don’t believe in God, I know that God exists based on personal revelation at the age of 21 that saved me from making a bad choice (quitting) that would have earned me a less-than-honorable military (USAF) discharge. Consider that God did create a perfect creation but that sin has corrupted nature. Since one’s sex is determined physically (in the womb through hormones), could it be that nature has assigned male genitalia to a female? By female I mean female-identified innately in the womb until “nature” decided otherwise? The endocrine system deals with hormones; could we accept that anything physically can go wrong in the womb except for this?

    Many of us, as I, have always (not whimsically felt) but sensed deep that our physical development wasn’t a match with our inner identity, even as children. We wished we could look like and grow up to be a girl (or boy); in clothing, hair, jewelry etc. This is years before sexuality entered the picture!

    This is 90% of being “transgender”: living a life that matches our inner identity or what I call our gender personality because personality and life are part of our God-given spirit in a fallibly created body (because of sin).

    • Adam__Baum

      “Many of us, as I, have always (not whimsically felt) but sensed deep that our physical development wasn’t a match with our inner identity, even as children”
      “living a life that matches our inner identity or what I call our gender personality because personality and life are part of our God-given spirit in a fallibly created body (because of sin)”
      “could it be that nature has assigned male genitalia to a female”

      Did it ever occur to you that “identity” is inalienable from the body and that if you insist that your “inner identity” doesn’t match sexual reality, then you are saying, “I am the creator, not the creature and my will be done, a manifestation of the sin you acknowledge”?

      That having been said, there are a variety of dysphoric illnesses. Should we tell people afflicted with clinical lycanthropy that they are really wolves, or should we allow them to assert that nature assigned a human form to a person whose “inner identity” is lupine?

      The mental health apparatus is doing people no favors by providing havens for people sufering such a delusion and refusing to say, you are not properly apprehending reality-it is not a contruct, subject to personal interpretation.

      Likewise, the butchers with physicians’ licenses that mutilate a perfectly normal, functioning body into a sterile counterfeit (that ironically gives a mere external appearance and requires hormones) is perpetrating a fraud.

      Then again, there’s this individual, who is so confused, as to be confused about being confused.

      • Dee Omally

        If as you say identity is inalienable from the body then every person’s identity would be altered as their body is altered physically. This simply isn’t the case. Identity doesn’t change as one loses limbs, appendages, etc. It remains unchanged. Conclusion: identity exists regardless of the body and thus cannot be a synergistic existence. Identity is not dependent on the body, rather the body is subordinate to one’s identity.

        We make use of God-given intelligence to physically alter our bodies in a myriad of ways, not always for life-saving reasons but often for the sole purpose of increasing the quality of life. For me, achieving a female hormonal balance has increased my quality of life. I don’t blame our creator for this necessity (I know necessity is subjective) but I incessantly thank God for the courage and intelligence to do so. Under what reasonable deduction can this warrant cause to say that “I am the creator” merely for altering my hormonal balance?

        God, from the beginning clearly stated that he would create only the master copies from whence we reproduce. Simply stated, God is no longer, exceptions (Isaiah and others) notwithstanding, in the human creation business. Either he created the first two and each of us afterward or he created the first two with orders replicate. Clearly even today we continue to reproduce fallibly finite human specimens so corrupted that sin permeates every cell of our physical body unto death.

        Here’s the problem with the lupine comparison so pervasively used in transgender discussions: the heart of changing one’s sex/gender is well, gender. Homo Sapiens include many characteristics common to being human. Possession of sex/gender is one of them. Certainly the animal kingdom does as well. However, because humans all possess a “gender”, rather a sex that is externally represented as “gender”, identifying as male or female even despite our body is never a inter-species “nutty” (your implication clearly taken) thought. Thinking one is a canine, a flower, lizard, or any other organic being however is far outside being homo Sapiens that it certainly would be a deranged thought. In fact it would be so deranged that such a person simply could not function within society.

        We who “are transgender” however continue to function just fine, except when we are persecuted as we often are through discrimination, bullying etc. which creates a desperation than too often begins a vicious downward-spiraling cycle that often leads to suicides. At this point it would be easy to place culpability on “mental illness” as a cause when in fact any person so persecuted would fare no different.
        Finally I conclude with this: were your comment to have a heading it would obviously be “You people are nuts!”, not because I think so but because you say so in your not-so-cleverly-disguised innuendos.

        If as you say “I am nuts” how could I (and many other transgender persons) wishing I was, feeling like I was, sensing that I was female since the age of 6 accomplished the following “nutty achievements:
        (1) graduated high school with honors, served my country for six years so successfully that I became a middle manager at 23 yrs. of age (E-5 Staff Sgt.) as an AF military policeman?
        (2) served the State of CA patrolling CA freeways, having graduated from the academy with honors?
        (3) served the County of LA as a campus peace officer for 2.5 years with distinction?
        (4) served as stay-home “mom” for 10 years and raised a gifted child?
        (4) other public safety accomplishments

        Respectfully, my resume speaks for itself. For me the real nuts are the ones that call us nuts. This isn’t tit-for-tat childish retaliation. Not at all. I really feel that those who associate us, as you have, with those that are institutionally deranged are the ones that speak with absolutely no standing or credibility. My record of achievements refute your accusations and treat them as emotionally-laden finger-wagging rebuking that for me means absolutely nothing.

        • Adam__Baum

          You seem to think your academic and professional accomplishments pedestrian as they may be – have something to do with your mental health. If you think that academic and professional accomplishments have any bearing on mental hygiene, I give you Howard Hughes.

          I didn’t describe you as “nuts”, perhaps you are having a Freudian slip.

          • Tristen Jackson

            Adam, have you ever served in the military? Describing military service as “pedestrian” is an insult to every service member that has spent their blood,sweat and tears to keep our nation a free one. I am not disputing your right to state your opinion, I am trying to educate you.

    • Pay

      What you have pointed out is mental illness. The body is not sick. The mind is regardless of the etiology.

      • Bob

        “Fallibly created body”…. I agree with Pay, God only out of love creates beauty, in His creation. The Down Syndrome child’s body was beautifully created by God, for example, God did not make a goof, blunder, or mistake. And if you understand the Church’s teaching that some day we will be with our resurrected bodies, you must accept the beauty of the body given you by a loving God. He did not make a mistake. As Dr. McHugh says in the article, you “would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia.”

        • Howard

          Being the sex you were born is not an illness, and you really should not concede the comparison. Down Syndrome is an illness, and although illnesses are not moral evils, they are physical evils.

          “And Jesus passing by, saw a man, who was blind from his birth: And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

        • Dee Omally

          Respectfully, this comment epitomizes the definition of subjective. I suppose beauty could be found even as I look down at what has evacuated from my body and call it “beautiful and good” as well. No one is saying that God makes mistakes. Some of us however know that it is sinful nature that is the cause of mistakes. Only after the renewing of earth will this cease to occur.

          Every thought comes out of the mind but not every thought that is the basis for disagreement is one borne of delusion, disorder, or illness. God created beauty. In fact God created creatures so perfect and beautiful that there was no illness, shame or death. As fallible creatures beauty lasts perhaps until about the age of 30 and then death reminds us of our finiteness by its overt reminders of its close proximity: gray hair, wrinkles, etc.

      • Dee Omally

        ah…..mental illness you say. The mind, the sick fact a mind so sick that one is physically impaired, unable to function, a state of false euphoria, delusions of grandeur, schizophrenic, unable to speak or obtain employment—all the manifestations of truly impaired minds.
        Your twisted opinion aside, I began hormone treatment in 2008. That is my real picture (2009) from employment ID. If your vile opinion is in fact true, how do I seek legal recourse from my doctors for failing to prescribe psychotropic drugs?
        It is comments such as these that spread lies and misinformation that continue to ensure that the false stereotype that “transgender persons are nuts” self-replicates. They are creating much more damage than you realize because unfortunately many truly “twisted” persons read false opinions such as yours and reach equally false conclusions as you have.

        • Pay

          Look, this is a comment box not a psychiatrist’s office or a confessional. Your personal drama cannot be treated here. Please seek help from a good priest.

          The only false teaching is coming from you.

    • Gabriel

      Dee, thank you for sharing your story and for your courage in posting here. I hope the recent words of Pope Francis will bring you comfort and will lead you to believe that not all Catholics are mean-spirited and obsessed with little more than other people’s sexuality and sexual behavior. Pope Francis has just said that the church has no right to “interfere spiritually” in the lives of gays and lesbians (and I assume the transgendered can be included here), that the church does not want gays and lesbians to be “socially wounded,” that the church has sometimes “locked itself up in small things,” and that the church shouldn’t “insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods.” Please never, ever think that you should be excluded from the church. You are loved and appreciated for who you are. I say with Pope Francis, “Who am I to judge?” Good luck and God bless you.

      • Pay

        Please do not misuse the Pope’s words to push your ideology.

        • Nigel

          What Francis said in his recent interview is clear. Catholics do not have to be part of a radical anti-gay, anti-transgender agenda.

          • Pay

            Rubbish. Firstly, the Pope does not change Church teaching yet alone in a magazine article. Secondly, being against evil is a requirement of the faith.

          • Bob

            Double rubbish. You are incorrect.

            • M&M

              You are too narrow. Francis is a welcome breath of fresh air in the church. I wish all Crisis readers and writers could learn from his largesse.

              • Bob

                How am I “too narrow?” Do you somehow believe that Pope Francis is going to start performing marriages for gay couples??

                • Carolena

                  If you read the interview, it’s clear that Francis is not approving of homosexuality, abortion, and contraception, but that he thinks we all need to stop obsessing over those issues and focus on the larger problem of poverty. He want the Catholic Church to be a “bit tent” that reaches out and includes gays and others. He emphasized this point in his homily this morning, saying:

                  “Money sickens our minds, poisons our thoughts, even poisons our faith, leading us down the path of jealousy, quarrels, suspicion and conflict. It drives to idle words and pointless discussions. It also corrupts the mind of some people that see religion as a source of profit. ‘I am Catholic, I go to Mass, everyone thinks well of me… But underneath I have my businesses. I worship money’. And here we have the word we usually find in newspapers: ‘Men of corrupted minds’. Money corrupts us! There’s no way out.”

                  “We can never serve God and money at the same time. It is not possible: either one or the other. This is not Communism. It is the true Gospel! They are the Lord’s words. While money begins by offering a sense of well being. Then you feel important and vanity comes. We read in the Psalm. This vanity is useless, but still you think you are important. And after vanity comes pride. Those are the three steps: wealth, vanity and pride.”

                  We have a pope that is a whole lot more concerned about the poor than about other people’s sex lives.

                  • Pay

                    This is nonsense. You are remaking the Pope in your image. He is concerned with salvation. “Sex lives”, as you minimize it, are central to life these days. He is concerned about sin. Sin that kills. That includes sexual sin.

                  • Bob

                    Disagree. “The larger problem of poverty?” Is poverty really a larger moral issue and imperative than 4,000 innocent babies a day in the United States being slaughtered in the womb through abortion?

                    Understand, the pope is not speaking “ex cathedra” when he makes these statements. He is giving his pastoral thoughts and opinions. Cestusdei states in his/her posting that the pope couches his statements in the context of the wounding nature of sin. The pope speaks of the Church as a “field hospital” and the healing power of the sacrament of confession. The pope is not saying we are too ignore the gay lifestyle, abortion and contraception. He is saying focus more on the sinner negatively wounded by these mortal sins, don’t “obsess” on the gravity of the sin committed.

                    • Carolena

                      You are free to disagree with the pope. I am free to agree with the pope and to disagree with you. Abortion is a personal decision made (usually) by the pregnant woman. We can try to change minds, but we can’t force people to do what we want them to do. Poverty is a huge social problem that we as a society CAN address. I am sure you will say that we can change global culture so that no woman will every choose to have an abortion because we somehow get everyone to agree that a days-old fetus is fully human. Or that we can control people’s lives to the extent that we can make abortion illegal AND enforce that law by (somehow) getting enough consensus to change laws and then eradicating all and any access to backstreet abortions or chemical agents that induce abortion. Maybe so, maybe not. People make up their own minds about this. However, we CAN all make a difference when it comes to poverty. The church isn’t going to drop its resistance to abortion, but eradicating poverty is a more achievable and more widely accepted goal and is therefore a worthy rallying cry by which to welcome everyone to the “bit tent.” I think Francis is also advocating mercy and compassion, not just for the poor, but for those who have had abortions or who live a homosexual lifestyle or who use contraception. He appears to be advocating a more accepting approach that relies more on love and less on passing judgment.

                    • Pay

                      No, none of that is true and nothing the Pope has said would lead anyone to think the Pope would agree with you.

                    • Bob

                      Abortion is the murder of millions of innocent children every year. Poverty is someone’s socio economic situation. Abortion is called “intrinsically evil” by the Church.

                      Do you really think I’m disagreeing with the pope, or are you misinterpreting what he is saying?

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Idiocy is an even bigger social problem.

              • Pay

                The Pope is not a “gay” apologist.

          • M&M

            You are right, Nigel. Francis said, “”The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.” We need to break with small-minded rules and start focusing on bettering life for one another.

            • Bob

              Give me an example of a “small minded rule?” I have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • Bob

        Pope Francis did not give a rubber stamp approval to the gay lifestyle and sexual acts. They are still sins. He said if a person is trying to repent from these sins, and thus turning towards Christ and therefore following the Gospels, he stated “whom am I to judge?” That persons efforts and heart that point. But make no mistake…..the pope was referring to the repentant sinner that was living the gay lifestyle. The liberal, atheistic mainstream media “cherry picked” his statement to contort it falsely that the pope was approving of the gay lifestyle. Sadly, most people only get their news (and therefore, theology) from anti-Catholic channels such as CNN and MSNBC.

        • Richard Wadey

          Many of you appear to have missed Pope Francis’s more recent comments where he expanded on his earlier remarks made in a plane. These are his words: ““A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

          “This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?

          “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

          The message is clear. Catholicism has to be about more than flat-out obsessions with gays, abortion, and contraception.

          • Bob

            And what is your point? The pope says “The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear, and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.” Sounds like the pope’s tired of secular, anti Catholic reporters constantly asking him about gays, abortion and contraception and these reporters somehow hoping if they ask him enough he’ll change 2000 years of Church teaching and say gay lifestyle, abortion, and contraception are “A-OK!”

            He talks of “the great benefit of confession as a sacrament…..where the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better.” Obviously, by discussing the confession of sins and the need to repent and seek God’s mercy, he’s not in anyway justifying sinful acts!

            You’re right…….the message is clear. We are to treat all sinners with mercy and love….but to not justify their sins. And it looks like the pope is tired of people trying to get him to change doctrinal Church teaching on these sins.

          • Bob

            And Catholicism IS about more than gays, abortions and contraception. The “obsession” is on the part of secular society constantly asking and wanting the Church to say that gay lifestyle, abortion and contraception are not sins. As the the pope says “the teaching is clear.” And what is that “clear” teaching? Sodomy, abortion and contraception are grave, sinful acts. But we are to show mercy and love to the person committing these sins, and bring them the “good news” of the gospels and a life of repentance from sin that we all must live.

            • Pay

              And the problem is when we only emphasis one aspect of the truth. I never hear about these issues in Church. In fact, outside of these blogs few know what the Church actually teaches and why. Many “know” they want the gay agenda and abortion. The reason there is some push against the deviant ideologies is because they are so pervasive throughout the culture.

              For the past 50 years the Church has been lax with catechesis.

              • Ty

                At my church, I’ve witnessed the issue of abortion being addressed in a serious manner on certain occasions. But not a single tiny squeak about homosexuality, LGBQT, etc.; maybe, this is a blessing, for we then focus on other areas of the gospel. I agree that many Catholics do not know their own religion.

          • Pay

            This is to misread his point and misdirect things. He is not saying embrace evil or deny it or excuse it. He was speaking about specific pastoral approaches. Not binding moral truth.

          • Steve Frank

            “The message is clear. Catholicism has to be about more than flat-out obsessions with gays, abortion, and contraception.”

            Catholicism is NOT obsessed with gays, abortion and contraception. The CULTURE is obsessed with these things. How often are these issues brought up at mass? Almost never. You can attend a parish for years and never hear these subjects addressed. I’m so tired of the Christian Church apologizing for the caricature of itself that the media has created. One of the most successful maneuvers of the secular left is to make Christians appear as the aggressors in the culture wars. It’s exactly the opposite. The Church’s posture is defensive. It’s homosexuals who came along and agitated for changing the definition of marriage as it had stood for thousands of years. Whether you think that is a good thing or not, nobody can argue with the fact that it was not the Church who started the battle. It’s our post sexual revolution culture that is obsessed with sexuality. Our culture bows down to it’s twin idols of sexual autonomy and radical egalitarianism. And it won’t tolerate anyone who doesn’t pay homage to it’s gods. That’s why the mere fact that the Catholic Church opposes homosexuality, contraception and abortion “on paper” is enough to constitute “obsession” in the minds of liberals. Given the current climate, most Christian leaders try to evade the topic of homosexuality. But the secular inquisitors won’t let them get away with silence. That’s why almost anytime the Pope or some evangelical leader is questioned by the press, they are always asked about their views on homosexuality. Then when a “heretical” answer is given (one that violates secular orthodoxy), the Christian is accused of being “obsessed” with homosexuality. It’s almost Orwellian. But you have to give the gay rights movement credit, they really succeeded in capturing the language of the debate and reversing perceptions of reality by making the Church look like the “obsessive” aggressor in matters related to sexuality.

          • Pay

            The only obsessed ones are those who attack the Church. The worship of deviant sex and abortion by the left is unparalleled.

        • Steve Frank

          While it’s most certainly true that the press will always spin the Pope’s words to further it’s own liberal agenda, it’s simply not fair to blame all the confusion on the media. The Pope’s comments have been very wishy washy in regard to the Church’s position on homosexuality. No, the Pope has not changed any moral dogmas. But I can see why his comments leave many poorly catechized Catholics confused. In a time of intense cultural pressure to accept homosexuality, we need bold leaders who will unapologetically clarify the Church’s position on the matter. Pope Francis is not doing that. Nor are many other Christian leaders, both Catholic and Protestant. The message of the Church to sexual sinners should be the same message Christ gave to the adulterous woman. “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more”. The only message I’m hearing from Pope Francis and many other Church leaders is “the Church doesn’t condemn you”. That’s it. I’m not hearing the “go and sin no more” part. And that is the cause of confusion. The media (as well as most cafeteria Catholics) are yearning for the Church to get with the times and jump onto the pro-gay bandwagon. So of course any comments by the Pope are going to be parsed in search of any hints of hope that the Church is ready to change it’s teaching on sexual issues. Pope Francis needs to balance his message more carefully. He needs to offer hope and compassion to those who struggle with same sex attraction. At the same time, he needs to issue bold and unambiguous statements that clarify the Church’s positions on the issue.

          • Bob

            Agreed. Clear Catholic teaching, and why it is better to confess and repent from mortal sin, that is where you’ll find Christ’s peace. The pope calls the Catholic Church “a field hospital for sinners” is absolutely true! Living in sin hurts, it’s painful, causes depression and a troubled soul. The Church and its teachings and sacraments are the salve and antibiotics that heals our sins so that we live and see the peace and love of Christ more clearly.

          • cestusdei

            Notice the context was in discussing sin and wounds. Then he moves to homosexuality. Catholic truth will not change.

            • Steve Frank

              I’m certainly not implying that the Pope has some agenda to change Catholic truth. I’m saying that I don’t think he is being careful with his words. He seems to be going out of his way to please the media by downplaying the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. The proof that what I’m saying is true is that we have both liberal and conservative Catholics who have read his very words claiming that Francis is one of them on this same issue. A speaker is doing something wrong when both sides claim you are with them after you’ve spoken on some moral teaching. When the only message the Pope has is “the Church does not condemn you” or “who am I to judge” that can be taken 2 ways. Liberals will say “see, the Church doesn’t condemn homosexuality anymore”. The conservatives say “No. No. He’s just saying that the person is not condemned if they repent”. Well those are two totally different interpretations of the same words. If the Pope would just make a few concise statements about the whole issue he could clarify everything and the debate would be over, at least the debate over where this Pope stands on the issue. He was asked directly what his position was on homosexuality. He gave a very beat around the bush kind of answer. How hard is it to say “the Church believes homosexual acts to be mortal sins. But there is grace, mercy and forgiveness to any repentant sinner”. Cased closed. Next question? I’m afraid the Pope is very naieve when he says “everyone knows the Church’s position already”. It may be true that most people know that historically the Church has considered homosexual acts sinful. What most Catholics don’t understand is what Church teachings are changeable and which are not. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “well they used to tell us that eating meat on Fridays was a sin but they relaxed the rules on that. So why can’t they so the same for homosexuality?”. Those are the types of questions the Pope needs to answer and explain. That when it comes to matters of sexuality there is no possibility of change. The poorly catechized Catholics of the West do not understand this. As a result, many Catholics with same sex attraction will continue to live in mortal sin under the false impression that the Church is slowly starting to come around on the issue and it’s only a matter of time before they embrace the new moral order just like the Boy Scouts, the President of the US, and so on.

              • RadTradMad

                Given the imprecise, vague statements Pope Francis has made, I think your statement, “it’s only a matter of time before [the Catholic Church] embrace[s] the new moral order just like the Boy Scouts, the President of the US, and so on.” is closer to the truth than anyone thinks.
                No doubt the Vatican has heard from many clergy in the US and Canada in fear of going to jail for being Catholic, and pleading for the Magisterium to change dogma on sexuality.
                Papa Bergolio very well could be the pope who does a thorough Protestantizing of Catholic teachings.

                • Bob

                  Great article below from a Catholic blogger on how the MSM has always tried to distort what a pope says.

                  Sorry to all the people that want the pope to toss out 50 or so doctrines on sin and therefore destroy the deposit of faith passed on down from the apostles, it ain’t going to happen. Pope Francis is not about to turn the Ten Commandments in to “Ten Suggestions.” He is only saying that we must treat the person severely harmed and damaged by mortal sin (whether its sodomy, abortion, or contraception), we must focus on healing that persons sin damaged wounds like the Good Samaritan, not what caused the wounds:


                • Steve Frank

                  I have a hard time believing things would go that far (an actual change of dogma). What’s more likely to happen (and is already happening) is that the Church will just look the other way. Homosexuality will be like birth control. On paper, the Church will remain opposed. But in practice, almost all Catholics will ignore the church’s teaching, most priests and bishops will tell people to “follow their conscience” on the matter, and so on. However, I just can’t see the Catholic Church offering the sacrament of marriage to same sex couples without igniting a major schism. And I don’t think this Pope would ever want to cause that to happen.

              • cestusdei

                The debate IS over. The teachings are not going to change. He is Catholic. I understand what the Pope is saying and I also understand how the dissenters try to misuse his words.

            • Bob

              Sin wounds, it harms. Living a life of mortal sin is living in illness.

              The pope is saying “come to the Church, and you will be cared for….your wounds will be healed. Your sins will be forgiven….”

              • cestusdei

                Yes, homosexuality is a sin and a wound.

    • cestusdei

      The problem is that you need help that is not being made available. Help that assists you in accepting that you are the sex in which you are born.

    • Facile1

      Much as I prefer to spare all of a broken heart, as Oscar Wilde (a convicted sodomite and one of my favorite poets) said in his Ballad of the Reading Gaol:

      Ah! happy they whose hearts can break
      And peace of pardon win!
      How else may man make straight his plan
      And cleanse his soul from Sin?
      How else but through a broken heart
      May Lord Christ enter in?

      When you are ready, remember this:

      Our sins are not news to God.
      Our sins are only news to us.
      Our sins need not be fatal if we repent.

      God loved us first. God loves us now. And God will love us always.

      God cannot love us any less for our choices.

      LOVE GOD (ie TRUTH) FIRST and sin no more.

    • Howard

      Underlying this is a fundamental error in thinking that the body and soul have nothing much to do with each other — the idea portrayed so often in science fiction that the mind and inner reality are a program run on the “meat computer” of the brain. Thus we have all the shows in which people “swap bodies” (perhaps through a transporter accident), or have their “souls” downloaded into computers or robots, or shed their bodies and “evolve” or “ascend” into beings of pure energy (which is still corporeal, but most people don’t really understand that). This belief was an important part of Gnosticism, and it has never really gone away entirely.

      In contrast, Christianity insists that there is a deep and fundamental unity between body and soul. That is why it was important that Jesus was raised from the dead in His own body, and that He neither remained disembodied nor took on some different body. (In fact, even when His soul was separated from His body, His divinity was separated from neither.) The unity between body and soul is also why we will all be reunited with our bodies in the general resurrection.

    • Since humans are mammals and not amphibians, our gender is determined genetically at conception by the spermatozoa.

  • MMC

    How incredibly sad that the APA has allowed the inmates to run the asylum. How sad to see people strew their inner demons and delusions for the public to see and deal with rather than seek authentic help from a Christ centered counselor. How sad that people who say they are the victims of bullies turn around and bully healthy and sane people into accepting their delusions as reality. How sad that people with gender identity disorder harm innocent children by purposely confusing them about their own gender realities. Only the Truth will set you free…objective truth based on biological reality and the truths found in the One, Holy, and Apostolic Church. True love has truth at it’s heart. Anyone who enables or supports LGBTQ supports a lie and thus does not love that person…for love wills the good of the beloved…and there is nothing good about accepting and living a disordered lie. Have hope that in Christ all is possible…that He is the God who heals. Yes, children are born with defects…nature DOES make mistakes due to original sin…we all have that stain…but b/c of Christ we can all surrender to Him, pick up our crosses and follow Him on the narrow road home…which will lead to the eventual resurrection where no mistakes are allowed:+) Remember, God allows our fallen nature so that it becomes a vehicle to seek and rely upon Him for all things. Seek truth, seek healing, seek Christ for only in Him are we complete:+) God bless~

    • Dee Omally

      How incredibly sad that garbage-laden comments such as these (from all of the false information it contains) actually garner 7 ^ replies. Shameful.

  • Ty

    Transgendered persons must be more equal than other persons since they have the right to force persons of the opposite sex to share a bathroom with them.

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  • ChrisSanchez

    The whole “LGBT Community” thing sets up the issue improperly. We should treat everyone with respect. Everyone, without exception. That’s fine. But since when do we identify people with their sins and perverse proclivities? Is there an adultery community, a womanizer community, a gambling community and so forth? If we are required to agree that people are born that way and doomed to a life of homosexuality, well, there is no evidence of that, and that just sets the discussion up in a way you can’t win…

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