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The story behind sex change surgery you haven’t heard

December 27, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Phoenix, Ariz., Dec 27, 2017 / 04:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- You’ve probably heard of Bruce Jenner.

Now referred to as Caitlyn Jenner, the high-profile Olympic athlete with a famously dramatic family had a very high-profile transition from male to female – including mutilple surgical alterations, a cover on Vanity Fair magazine and the now-canceled docu-series “I am Cait.”

You probably haven’t heard of Bruce Reimer.

Bruce and his twin brother Brian were born in Canada in the 1960s. At the age of seven months, the otherwise healthy boys were circumcised. But the doctors used a new method of circumcision, involving an electric cauterizing needle, on Bruce. An accident occurred, completely burning off the little boy’s penis.

Brian’s operation was canceled, but his parents were devastated.

The Reimers decided to take Bruce to Dr. John Money, a psychologist and sexologist at Johns Hopkins they had seen on T.V.

Dr. Money had a theory that aside from reproductive and urinary functions, gender was a social construct. Until the Reimer twins, he had largely worked with intersex cases – children born with ambiguous genitalia or abnormal sex chromosomes.

But the Reimer twins – otherwise healthy and biologically normative – were the perfect experiment on which to test his theory of gender fluidity. Brian would be raised as a boy, and Bruce would from now on be called Brenda, and raised as a girl.

The Reimers agreed, and insisted on girl’s clothes and socialization for Brenda throughout childhood. They never told the twins about the accident, or about Brenda’s biological sex.

The twins were brought in for a yearly observation with Dr. Money, who dubbed the case a wild success by the time the twins were nine years old.

“No-one else knows that she is the child whose case they read of in the news media at the time of the accident,” he wrote.

“Her behavior is so normally that of an active little girl, and so clearly different by contrast from the boyish ways of her twin brother, that it offers nothing to stimulate one’s conjectures.”

What the Doctor didn’t tell

Deacon Dr. Patrick Lappert is two things you wouldn’t necessarily expect to occur in tandem – a plastic surgeon, and a deacon for the Roman Catholic Church.

These two roles give him a unique understanding of the human person, both physically and metaphysically. They’ve also given him a unique perspective on transgendered persons, and the current cultural movement to support surgical sex changes.

Dr. Lappert was asked to speak at this year’s Truth and Love conference for Courage in Phoenix. He included the case of the Reimer twins during his talk, “Transgender Surgery and Christian Anthropology.”

The on-paper success of Brenda Reimer as a lovely and well-adjusted little girl did not match the lived reality of the child, Dr. Lappert said. Brenda Reimer was a rambunctious tomboy – shunned by the boys for wearing dresses, and by the girls for being too wild.

“She was very rebellious. She was very masculine, and I could not persuade her to do anything feminine. Brenda had almost no friends growing up. Everybody ridiculed her, called her cavewoman,” Brenda’s mother, Janet, recalled in an interview with BBC News.

“She was a very lonely, lonely girl.”

During the twins’ yearly checkup and observation, Dr. Money would force the twins to strip naked and engage in sexual play, posing in positions that affirmed their respective genders. On at least one occasion, this sex play was photographed.

By their teenage years, the twins were strongly opposed to going to their checkups with Dr. Money.

By age 13, Brenda was suicidal.

By 15, the Reimers stopped taking the twins to Dr. Money and revealed the truth to Brenda – he was biologically male. He fully embraced his male identity, chose the name David, and began hormone therapy and a surgical genital reconstruction. He dated and married a woman, whose children he adopted.

But the wounds of his traumatic childhood were deep for both David and his brother. Both suffered from depression. After 14 years, David’s wife divorced him. Then Brian died from a drug overdose. Not long after, in May 2004, David committed suicide. He was 38 years old.

Despite everything, Dr. Money never printed any retractions of his studies, or added any corrections.

“He never said a word, never took any of it back,” Dr. Lappert said.

Which is hugely problematic, because this study is still frequently cited as a successful gender transition by the medical community at large, including the society of plastic surgeons to which Dr. Lappert belongs, he said.

“I put this case out there as an example, to show you the foundation – the sand upon which this whole thing is built,” Dr. Lappert said.

“We have to understand this as we’re talking about the human person as a unity of spirit and form, that there is an integrity to the maleness and femaleness with which we are made.”

One of the biggest problems with transgender sex change surgeries is that they are permanent and irreversible in any meaningful way, Dr. Lappert said.

“There’s nothing reversible about genital surgery – it’s a permanent, irreversible mutilation of the human person. And there’s no other word for it,” he said.  

“It results in permanent sterility. It’s a permanent dissolution of the unitive and the procreative functions. And even the unitive aspect of the sexual embrace is radically hindered if not utterly destroyed,” he said, because of the inevitable nerve damage that occurs during the surgery, and because the brain will always register the genital nerves as coming from their organ of origin.

In other words, nerves connected to a vagina will always register with the brain as a vagina, even if they are now part of a surgically constructed penis, and vice versa.

Another major issue is that sex change surgeries seek to solve an interior dysfunction with an external solution.

“Underneath it all, you’re trying to heal an interior wound with exterior surgery,” Dr. Lapper said.


This article was originally published on CNA Jan. 19, 2017.


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Jesus’ coming is an invitation to conversion, Pope Francis says

December 26, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Dec 26, 2017 / 07:24 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday Pope Francis said there is a strong link between the death of St. Stephan, the Church’s first martyr, and the birth of Christ, who came to offer message that is often uncomfortable and calls us to convert.

“Jesus’ message is uncomfortable and inconvenient for us, because it challenges worldly religious power and provokes consciences,” the Pope said Dec. 26, adding that after his coming, “it’s necessary to convert, to change mentality, to renounce thinking like before…to convert.”

Speaking to pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square during his Angelus address for the feast of St. Stephan, which is celebrated the day after Christmas, the Pope noted how it might seem like there is no relation between Jesus’ birth and Stephan’s death, however, “there is a strong link.”

When he preached, Stephan put the leaders of the people “into crisis,” Francis said, because “he firmly believed and professed the new presence of God among men.”

In telling the leaders at the time that Jesus would destroy the temple and change the customs that Moses handed down to them, Stephen understood that “the true temple of God is now Jesus, eternal Word come to live in our midst, (who) became like us in all things, apart from sin.”

Despite the accusation that he was preaching the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem and therefore facing death, Stephan stayed “anchored” in the message of Jesus until his last breath, with his final prayers being “Lord Jesus, welcome my spirit” and “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

These two prayers, Pope Francis said, are “a faithful echo” of those said by Jesus on the cross, when he prays: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” and “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

“These words of Stephan were only possible because the Son of God came to earth and died and rose for us,” he said, adding that before this happened, “they were humanly impossible expressions.”

The Pope then noted that the Risen Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and he intercedes for us not just at our death, as he did for St. Stephan, but in every moment of our lives.

“Without him, we can do nothing,” Francis said, explaining that as our mediator, Jesus reconciles us not only with God the Father, but also with each other.

“(Jesus) is the font of love, which opens us to communion with brothers, to love each other, removing every conflict and resentment,” he said, adding that “resentments are an ugly thing, they do so much harm and the do us so much harm!”

This, he said, is the miracle of Jesus: that he removes these resentments and “makes it so that we love each other.”

Francis closed his address asking that Jesus, who was born for each of us, would help us to assume “this dual attitude of trust in the Father and love of neighbor; it is an attitude that transforms life and makes it more beautiful and more fruitful.”

He also prayed that Mary would help us to welcome Jesus as the Lord of our lives and “to become his courageous witnesses, ready to personally pay the price of fidelity to the Gospel.”

After leading pilgrims in the traditional Angelus prayer, the Pope offered a word of thanks for all the well-wishes he has received in recent weeks.

“I express to everyone my gratitude, especially for the gift of prayer. Thank you so much!” he said, adding that “the Lord will reward your generosity!”


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On Christmas, Pope says we see Jesus in every suffering child

December 25, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Dec 25, 2017 / 09:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Christmas day said the commemoration of Christ’s birth is an occasion to remember and pray for every child who suffers due to war, poverty and inequality, each of whom bear the face of Jesus.

“Today, as the winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline, Christmas invites us to focus on the sign of the Child and to recognize him in the faces of little children, especially those for whom, like Jesus, there is no place in the inn,” the Pope said Dec. 25, on Christmas day.

Jesus, he said, was not born as a result of man’s will, “but by the gift of the love of God our Father.”

“The faith of the Christian people relives in the Christmas liturgy the mystery of the God who comes, who assumes our mortal human flesh, and who becomes lowly and poor in order to save us,” he said, adding that “this moves us deeply, for great is the tenderness of our Father.”

Speaking to the 50,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, the Pope noted that this tenderness is expressed in a special way to children who suffer from all the various conflicts in the world.

From the Holy Land to Venezuela, from the Middle East to Africa and Ukraine, he pointed to various conflicts happening around the world and offered prayers for peace in each region marred by war, violence and poverty.

He prayed that peaceful dialogue would be taken up again in Israel and Palestine so that the two parties can negotiate a solution to their conflict “that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two States within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders.”

Francis also prayed for children with unemployed parents and for those forced to migrate alone to other countries, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers.

“Through their eyes we see the drama of all those forced to emigrate and risk their lives to face exhausting journeys that end at times in tragedy,” he said, adding that “Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed and how hard it is not to have a place to lay one’s head. May our hearts not be closed as they were in the homes of Bethlehem.”

Pope Francis closed his address praying that like Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds, we would also “welcome in the Baby Jesus the love of God made man for us. And may we commit ourselves, with the help of his grace, to making our world more human and more worthy for the children of today and of the future.”

Please read below for the full text of Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi address:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Christmas!

In Bethlehem, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. He was born, not by the will of man, but by the gift of the love of God our Father, who “so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

This event is renewed today in the Church, a pilgrim in time. For the faith of the Christian people relives in the Christmas liturgy the mystery of the God who comes, who assumes our mortal human flesh, and who becomes lowly and poor in order to save us. And this moves us deeply, for great is the tenderness of our Father.

The first people to see the humble glory of the Saviour, after Mary and Joseph, were the shepherds of Bethlehem. They recognized the sign proclaimed to them by the angels and adored the Child. Those humble and watchful men are an example for believers of every age who, before the mystery of Jesus, are not scandalized by his poverty. Rather, like Mary, they trust in God’s word and contemplate his glory with simple eyes. Before the mystery of the Word made flesh, Christians in every place confess with the words of the Evangelist John: “We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).

Today, as the winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline, Christmas invites us to focus on the sign of the Child and to recognize him in the faces of little children, especially those for whom, like Jesus, “there is no place in the inn” (Lk 2:7).

We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. On this festive day, let us ask the Lord for peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land. Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two States within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders. May the Lord also sustain the efforts of all those in the international community inspired by good will to help that afflicted land to find, despite grave obstacles the harmony, justice and security that it has long awaited.

We see Jesus in the faces of Syrian children still marked by the war that, in these years, has caused such bloodshed in that country. May beloved Syria at last recover respect for the dignity of every person through a shared commitment to rebuild the fabric of society, without regard for ethnic and religious membership. We see Jesus in the children of Iraq, wounded and torn by the conflicts that country has experienced in the last fifteen years, and in the children of Yemen, where there is an ongoing conflict that has been largely forgotten, with serious humanitarian implications for its people, who suffer from hunger and the spread of diseases.

We see Jesus in the children of Africa, especially those who are suffering in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Nigeria.

We see Jesus in the children worldwide wherever peace and security are threatened by the danger of tensions and new conflicts. Let us pray that confrontation may be overcome on the Korean peninsula and that mutual trust may increase in the interest of the world as a whole. To the Baby Jesus we entrust Venezuela that it may resume a serene dialogue among the various elements of society for the benefit of all the beloved Venezuelan people. We see Jesus in children who, together with their families, suffer from the violence of the conflict in Ukraine and its grave humanitarian repercussions; we pray that the Lord may soon grant peace to this dear country.

We see Jesus in the children of unemployed parents who struggle to offer their children a secure and peaceful future. And in those whose childhood has been robbed and who, from a very young age, have been forced to work or to be enrolled as soldiers by unscrupulous mercenaries.

We see Jesus in the many children forced to leave their countries to travel alone in inhuman conditions and who become an easy target for human traffickers. Through their eyes we see the drama of all those forced to emigrate and risk their lives to face exhausting journeys that end at times in tragedy. I see Jesus again in the children I met during my recent visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh, and it is my hope that the international community will not cease to work to ensure that the dignity of the minority groups present in the region is adequately protected. Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed and how hard it is not to have a place to lay one’s head. May our hearts not be closed as they were in the homes of Bethlehem.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, The sign of Christmas has also been revealed to us: “a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes” (Lk 2:12). Like the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we welcome in the Baby Jesus the love of God made man for us. And may we commit ourselves, with the help of his grace, to making our world more human and more worthy for the children of today and of the future.


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Pope Francis: Christmas invites us to be messengers of hope, tenderness

December 24, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Dec 24, 2017 / 02:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said the birth of Jesus is an invitation for all Christians to imitate him in reaching out to embrace the vulnerable and all those who are suffering, during his celebration of Christmas Mass.

The joy that we are called to celebrate, share, and proclaim at Christmas is “the joy with which God, in his infinite mercy, has embraced us pagans, sinners and foreigners, and demands that we do the same,” the Pope said the evening of Dec. 24 during his homily at St. Peter’s Basilica.

The faith Christians proclaim at Christmas, as they adore the infant who came to offer salvation to sinners, is one that enables us to see God “in all those situations where we think he is absent,” he said.

“He is present in the unwelcomed visitor, often unrecognizable, who walks through our cities and our neighborhoods, who travels on our buses and knocks on our doors,” Francis said, explaining that this faith is also an invitation to develop “a new social imagination, and not to be afraid of experiencing new forms of relationship, in which none have to feel that there is no room for them on this earth.”

Christmas, then, “is a time for turning the power of fear into the power of charity, into power for a new imagination of charity,” he said.

And the type of charity we are invited to live during Christmas is one “that does not grow accustomed to injustice, as if it were something natural, but that has the courage, amid tensions and conflicts, to make itself a ‘house of bread,’ a land of hospitality.”

In choosing to be born into the world as a tiny infant, Christ offers himself to us in a way that we are able to hold him, lift him up, and embrace him, Francis said. In the same way, we are also called “to take into our arms, raise up and embrace the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned.”

“In this Child, God invites us to be messengers of hope,” he said. “He invites us to become sentinels for all those bowed down by the despair born of encountering so many closed doors. In this child, God makes us agents of his hospitality.”

He noted how difficult it was for Mary and Joseph to be forced from their homeland and make a long, uncomfortable journey while expecting a child. The situation was exacerbated when they finally arrived to Bethlehem only to discover there was no room for them in the city.

And yet it was here, “amid the gloom of a city that had no room or place for the stranger from afar, amid the darkness of a bustling city which in this case seemed to want to build itself up by turning its back on others” that the “revolutionary spark” of God’s love was lit, he said.

“In Bethlehem, a small chink opens up for those who have lost their land, their country, their dreams; even for those overcome by the asphyxia produced by a life of isolation.”

Francis noted that there are many others whose footsteps are hidden in those of Mary and Joseph, including the millions of people “who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones.”

“In many cases this departure is filled with hope, hope for the future; yet for many others this departure can only have one name: survival,” he said, noting that there are many who must survive “the Herods of today, who, to impose their power and increase their wealth, see no problem in shedding innocent blood.”

Mary and Joseph, who are the first to embrace “the one who comes to give all of us our document of citizenship,” are faced with a similar situation, finding themselves fleeing to a new land where they have no home or roof over their head.

However, in the “poverty and humility” of his birth, Christ both proclaims and shows that “true power and authentic freedom are shown in honoring and assisting the weak and the frail,” Francis said.

Among the weakest and most frail members society at the time were the shepherds, he said, noting that because of their work, they were often forced to live on the margins. Because their state in life prevented them from participating in the traditional religious purification rituals, the shepherds were considered “unclean.”

“Everything about them generated mistrust. They were men and women to be kept at a distance, to be feared,” Pope Francis said, noting how they were widely considered “pagans among the believers, sinners among the just, foreigners among the citizens.”

However, these are the ones to whom the angel first appears with the announcement that the savior had been born, he said, adding that “this is the joy that we tonight are called to share, to celebrate and to proclaim” at Christmas.

Like Christ, who in his mercy bent down and embraced us as sinners, pagans, and foreigners, we must also learn to develop a new gaze that looks at others with charity and hospitality, he said, and urged Christians to imitate Jesus in lifting up and embracing the weak and marginalized.

He closed his homily by praying that the gift of the “little Child of Bethlehem” would move us, so that “your crying may shake us from our indifference and open our eyes to those who are suffering.”

“May your tenderness awaken our sensitivity and recognize our call to see you in all those who arrive in our cities, in our histories, in our lives,” he said, and prayed that the “revolutionary tenderness” of the Christ Child would “persuade us to feel our call to be agents of the hope and tenderness of our people.”


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Mary is a perfect example of how to respond to God’s plan, Pope says

December 24, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Dec 24, 2017 / 06:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With Christmas just a day away, Pope Francis said Mary’s humble and modest response at the announcement of Jesus’ birth reflects what our own attitude should be regarding God’s plan for our lives as we prepare for the incarnation.

In her response to the angel during the Annunciation, Mary’s attitude “perfectly corresponds to that of the Son of God when he comes into the world: he wants to become the Servant of the Lord, putting himself at the service of humanity in order to fulfill the plan of God,” the Pope said Dec. 24.

By saying “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” Mary “perfectly reflects” the words of Jesus himself, who in the Gospels tells God the Father that “I come to do your will.”

“In this way Mary is revealed as a perfect collaborator in the plan of God, and she is also revealed as a disciple of her son, and in the Magnificat she is able to proclaim that ‘God has exalted the lowly,’ because with this humble and generous response she has obtained a high joy, and even the highest glory.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square during his Angelus address for the fourth Sunday of Advent, which this year falls on Christmas Eve. Later this evening, at 9:30p.m. local time in Rome, he will celebrate the vigil Mass for Christmas in St. Peter’s Basilica.

In his Angelus address, the Pope pointed to the difference between the responses of the angel and Mary during the Annunciation in the Gospel of Luke.

The angel’s declaration that Mary will conceive a son, that his name will be Jesus, that he will be the Messiah, and that he will have a specific mission in line with his ancestors David and Jacob, is “a long revelation, which opens unheard of perspectives,” he said, adding that after Mary’s question, the angel goes into further detail, and the revelation becomes “still more detailed and surprising.”

Mary’s response, on the other hand, “is a brief phrase, which doesn’t speak of joy, it doesn’t speak of privilege, but only of availability and service.”

Even the content of her response that “I am the handmaid of the Lord, do unto me according to your word,” is different, he said, noting that “Mary doesn’t exalt before the prospect of becoming the mother of the Messiah, but remains modest and expresses her own adhesion to the project of the Lord,” Francis said.

This contrast in their responses is important, he said, because it shows us that Mary is “truly humble and doesn’t try to show off.” Instead, Mary recognizes that “she is small before God, and she is content to be like this.”

However, at the same time Mary is also aware that the fulfillment of God’s plan depends on her response, and that she is therefore called to “adhere to it with her whole self.”

Pope Francis closed his address saying while admiring Mary for her response to the call and mission of God, we must also pray that she help each person “to welcome the plan of God in our lives with sincere humility and courageous generosity.”

After leading pilgrims in the traditional Angelus prayer, the Pope noted that the birth of the “Prince of Peace” is drawing nearer, and prayed for the gift of peace for the whole world, especially for those who “suffer most due to ongoing conflicts.”

He also prayed that everyone who has been kidnapped in these conflicts – priests, religious and lay men and women – would be set free and able to return to their homes.

Francis also prayed for the victims of a massive tropical storm that tore through the Philippine Island of Mindanao yesterday, killing at least 180 people, asking that God “welcome the souls of the deceased and comfort those who suffer due to this calamity.”

The Pope then gave a final piece of advice before Christmas, telling pilgrims to find a moment of silence to stop and pray in front of the nativity scene, and to “adore the mystery of the true Christmas, that of Jesus, who draws near to us with his love, humility and tenderness.”