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CNA Staff, Jan 15, 2021 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- The Diocese of Lansing launched Friday a policy on gender identity requiring that its schools, parishes, and charities recognize persons by the biological sex with which they were born.
The Jan. 15 policy aims to ensure “the highest standards of pastoral care for those with gender dysphoria while also ensuring that Catholic entities, such as parishes and schools, have the capability and confidence to safeguard those in their care from contemporary gender ideologies,” according to the diocese’s statement.
It was developed in response to the Congregation for Catholic Education’s 2019 document Male and Female He Created Them, which “rejected any ‘gender theory’ that denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman.”
The policy makes explicit what is already implicity contained in the diocese’s code of conduct and employee handbook.
“Informed by faith and reason, the Church teaches that our differences as male and female are part of God’s good design in creation, that our bodies – including our sexual identity – are gifts from God, and that we should accept and care for our bodies as they were created,” says Richard Budd, Director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Lansing and co-author of the new guidelines.
“Gender dysphoria is a real psychological condition which causes real human suffering that has to be met with genuine compassion, rooted in truth and love, and accompanied by the highest standards of pastoral care,” Budd also says.
“Gender dysphoria” is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as “clinically significant distress or impairment related to a strong desire to be of another gender, which may include desire to change primary and/or secondary sex characteristics.” This desire to change sex and its accompanying distress may be so intense it can lead to depression and anxiety and have a harmful impact on daily life.
The diocesan policy means that students and parents will be addressed with pronouns in accord with their biological sex; students will participate in sports and use bathrooms and locker rooms in accord with their biological sex; and Catholic schools will not cooperate in the administration of puberty-blocking or cross-sex hormones.
The diocese encourages counseling for those distressed or confused by their sexual identity, and it expects that its counselors “hold a correct Christian anthropology of the human person and understand and adhere to Catholic teaching.”
According to Budd, “both science and Sacred Scripture concur that the human person is a body-soul union, and the body — created male or female — is a constitutive and integral aspect of the human person and, as such, everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his or her God-given biological sex and the sexuality that corresponds with that gift – only in this way lies a path towards an integral, sustainable and happy life.”
“Invasive treatments, especially for children, can inflict irreversible physiological damage coupled with long-term psychological, emotional and spiritual damage upon an already vulnerable person,” says Jenny Ingles, Director of Fertility and Life Ministries in the Diocese of Lansing and co-author of the new guidelines.
The diocese’s statement notes that the launching of its policy coincides with the emergence of legal actions brought by adults alleging malpractice by health authorities who, it is claimed, recklessly encouraged them to “transition” as children.
“Our wonderful Catholic teachers are overwhelmingly motivated in all they do by the love of Jesus Christ and they seek to bring that love to the care of their students,” said Tom Maloney, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Lansing.
“Applying that compassion to new ethical dilemmas such as gender dysphoria can be challenging – that’s why this new diocesan policy on gender identity will help our teachers form our students in truth and love in order to promote authentic happiness and uphold the common good,” he concluded.
With the new policies, the diocese also issued a theological guide, “The Human Person and Gender Dysphoria“, which explains the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding human anthropology, the human person, and the pastoral challenges posed by transgender ideology.
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