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LETTERS Responding to the pope
2017-10-11

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The following text is a statement by Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, on Pope Francis' Oct. 5 statement on gender transition:

Pope Francis has once again entered the discussion of transgender issues with a statement that reveals the pontiff does not yet comprehend issues of gender identity.

In a statement to the Pontifical Academy for Life's general assembly, he said:

"The biologic and psychological manipulation of sexual difference, which biomedical technology allows one to see as open to free choice—which it's not!—is thus likely to dismantle the source of energy that nourishes the alliance of man and woman and makes it creative and fruitful."

By referring to transgender people's desires to transition as "manipulation" and a "free choice," Pope Francis shows that he does not understand that for transgender people, a transition is a discovery and affirmation of who God created them to be. Gender is more than a biological reality. It also includes psychological, emotional, cultural, and spiritual dimensions. When some people seek surgery to confirm their gender identity, they are celebrating their God-given identities. A decision to transition is often made after many years of confusion and turmoil, as well as many forms of discernment with medical, psychological, and spiritual authorities.

In another section of his talk, the pontiff said that men and women "were created, in their blessed difference; together they have sinned, for their presumption to replace God ... to honor the care of the world and the history that He has entrusted to them."

Transgender people actually acknowledge the importance of gender since they recognize how important it is for them to live as their authentic gender, not by the gender assigned to them at birth which was based on the minimal evidence of external genitalia. Transgender people see this difference as "blessed," as God-given, not something that they chose. Their quest for authenticity is a quest for holiness. They seek to "honor the care" of the identity and life that they have been given.

To say that transgender people are acting against the plan of God is actually itself a rejection of God's plan for these sacred human beings.

Francis DeBernardo

New Ways Ministry


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