Through my journey as a practitioner primarily, a stark reality started awakening me about five years ago, not only in my professional life but in my adult parenting and Catholic spiritual life. The Catholic Church has two options to address the spiritual and life-giving needs of those who have neurological, psychological, biological, and other variances which scientifically diverge from the broader population. Either continue to endanger and abuse them for the sake of enforcing “all Catholic Sexual Ethics,” which only 3% of the Catholic Church follows, or align pastoral ministry with current science to give life and vitality. Serving neurodivergent, disabled, and LGBTQIA+ people in my family, profession, and ministry, I choose to follow current science and bring life, not endanger in order to “uphold the traditionalist ideal.” Traditional cultures and ways of life can be beautiful, for they provide a structure to follow, but “Catholic sexual ethics tradition” cannot be enforced at the cost of endangering others’ lives, like we see in fascist regions in Poland, Russia, and the United States.
I have a choice to either use the sexual ethics teachings as a weapon to reject, harm, and kill or bring life by leaning on Catholic Social Teaching/Doctrine to give life and vitality. As a parent, practitioner, and now progressive Catholic (no longer traditional), I choose what brings others life and vitality instead of harm and endangerment. It truly boils down to these choices.
The question again is, “What does science say?” True science has a collective consensus, years of trial and error, and longitudinal studies done by the top experts as-a-whole in any given field, not rogue minorities who buck the collective, like we see on Fox News and right-winged media. I am by no means a gender and sexuality specialist, but I am a practitioner in the field of Educational Therapy with specialized credentialing in Autism, Cognition, Dyslexia, and LGBTQIA+ Inclusion in Healthcare. I would be an absolute fool if I do not align my professional practice, parenting, and ministry with every major medical association in the world so that I bring life and vitality, not harm and endangerment.
In order to make these seismic shifts, I had to admit that I’ve had some serious misconceptions and that I have been wrong about some things. I apologized and tried to make amends when my eyes started opening much more to the overall well-being, mental health, and life issues for minority populations starting in 2016. Between 2017-2019, every major medical association came to the consensus that affirming and accepting LGBTQIA+ people and approving gender-affirming care for transgender individuals who need it are matters of life and death. Inclusion and acceptance for Neurodivergent individuals, such as those with Autism, are also matters of life and death. These realities were confirmed when I spoke with medical staff at UT Medicine six months ago.
Again, here are just the American Medical Associations and their inclusive and affirming statement of LGBTQIA+ people and gender-affirming care. Other major medical associations around the world concur.
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- American Academy of Dermatology
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- American Academy of Nursing
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Academy of Physician Assistants
- American College Health Association
- American College of Nurse-Midwives
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- American College of Physicians
- American Counseling Association
- American Heart Association
- American Medical Association
- American Medical Student Association
- American Nurses Association
- American Osteopathic Association
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Psychological Association
- American Public Health Association
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons
- Endocrine Society
- GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
- National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
- National Association of Social Workers
- National Commission on Correctional Health Care
- Pediatric Endocrine Society
- Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
- World Medical Association
- World Professional Association for Transgender Health
So Catholic parents of LBGTQIA+ children who are many times also Neurodiverse, here is some good Catholic teaching for those trads who want to use sexual doctrine as a weapon to destroy Neurodivergent, disabled, and LBGTQIA+ people and families. If you want to get technical with Catholic Teaching, by advocating for LBGTQIA + inclusion, we are following Catholic Social Teaching which honors the Sanctity of life and Dignity of the Human Person, The Call to Family, Community, and Participation by keeping the family intact, which includes disabled, neurodivergent, and LBGTQIA+ people. I am following Pope Francis’s directives in his encyclicals to provide science-aligned pastoral care because it’s a matter of life and death, and Jesus’s 2nd greatest commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. According to Matthew 22:37-40, the words straight from Jesus Himself, 37Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
“The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health states that every word and action of love, affirmation, or acceptance can be the difference between life and death for LGBTQIA+ people.”
So trads can call me a Cafeteria Catholic all they want, but by excluding and rejecting disabled, neurodivergent, and LBGTQIA people and their families, that is destroying the person and their family to which they belong, and that’s less Catholic teaching than allowing the neurodivergent and/or LBGTQIA+ person to be a practicing homosexual in a life-long committed relationship included within the context of their family. Most are unable to live a life of celibacy without incurring lasting psychological damage/lasting spiritual damage, or even death. Debating someone’s right-to-life is not negotiable. The sanctity of life and human dignity always comes first in the Catholic Church, so we must place life first. This is why we must follow Jesus’ first and second Greatest Commandments to “Love God and Love Our Neighbor as Ourselves.”