In past articles, I sounded the alarm concerning a darkness looming within the Church. For example, the German Synodal Path, the Synod of Synodality, poor catechesis, stigmatization of faithful voices with the public square, the warnings of the late Cardinal Pell, and the carve out for grave sexual sin encouraged by Cardinal McElroy. All of these represent a Church with an identity crisis. In response to the sexual abuse crisis (a total failure in fidelity on multiple levels), some within the Church appear ready to abandon their views on human sexuality and sin. But in the darkness, even a single candle burns brightly. This flame comes from the diocese of Des Moines, Iowa.
In this article, I have the pleasure to report on something positive, a sign of hope for the faithful in much need of encouraging news.
The Diocese of Des Moines Draws the Line Concerning the Human Person
On January 16th, 2023, the diocese of Des Moines adopted new policies addressing gender identity concerns at local parishes and schools. These policies reaffirm Catholic teaching on human sexuality and the human person. The new policies, rooted in the love of the human person, also reflect a true pastoral approach, not the carve outs for sin some espouse within the Church.
The introduction to policies states:
Prior to any policy, the Diocese of Des Moines fervently hopes that all persons experiencing gender dysphoria know what the Catholic Church tirelessly affirms that they are unconditionally loved by Jesus Christ and by the Church, and that they are vital members of the Body of Christ who have a home in the family of God.
In Love, God Created Them Male and Female
Regarding this love, it goes on to state:
The God who is love and who is revealed as a communion of persons has called humans, the only creatures after his own heart, to share fully in his love. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, in whom all persons are created (Colossians 1:15-16) as either male or female in God’s image and likeness, became human like us in all things but sin (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus understands human nature well (John 2:25) and reveals us to ourselves.
First and foremost, God created humans male and female to share in God’s love. God’s love for humanity shows itself most fully in the incarnation of the Son of God. In this act, humanity became united to the Trinity, forever. This truth stands at the foundation of all discussions on the human person. If we fail in understanding this point, all others that flow from it become incomprehensible.
Recognize Cultural Pressure
Furthermore, the diocese recognizes the cultural pressures regarding aggressively treating gender dysphoria (hormones, puberty blockers, etc), rooted in a subjective understanding of love, that seeks to uncritically do “whatever is going to make them happy.”
Additionally, from the perspective of reason and natural law, consistent with the tenets of Catholic Christian faith, these treatments do not promote the common good of society, particularly when it comes to the institutions of marriage and family, the complementarity of the sexes as established by God, the generation and nurturing of children, and overall human flourishing in relation to other persons in society.
For the parents of a child who presents with gender dysphoria, the overarching priority is to genuinely assist the child by acknowledging the suffering involved and to accompany him or her along the path to personal healing, self-acceptance, integration, and peace. Any response that merely ratifies and reinforces the perceived disconnect between biological sex and gender affiliation is not genuine compassion. [emphasis added]
The diocese rightly discerns that reinforcement of the disconnect between biology and interior affiliation is not genuine compassion, as it does not allow for healing, self-acceptance, and peace. For example, the reinforcement of the disconnect using “preferred pronouns.”
Reemphasis on Catholic Teaching on the Body
Moreover, the policy reemphasizes Catholic teaching on the human body, citing both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Pope Francis.
I ask myself, if the so-called gender theory is not, at the same time, an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it. Yes, we risk taking a step backwards. The removal of difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution. Pope Francis. General Audience, April 15, 2015
It is a source of concern that some ideologies of this sort, which seek to respond to what are at times understandable aspirations, manage to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised. It needs to be emphasized that biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated. Pope Francis. (2016). Amoris Laetitia (AL), no. 56.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2335:
Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” All human generations proceed from this union.
Therefore, in line with both the official teaching off the Catholic Church and the Holy Father, the diocese of Des Moines enacted specific polices on gender identity.
Specific Policies Based on the Teaching of the Catholic Church on the Human Body
Policies enacted by the diocese.
- No person may designate a “preferred pronoun” in speech or in writing when related to ministry activities of any kind, nor are parishes, organizations, or institutions to permit such a designation. To permit the designation of a preferred pronoun, while intended as an act of charity, instead promotes the dissociation of biological sex and “gender” and thereby confuses or denies personal integrity.
- All persons must use the bathroom or locker room that matches their biological sex.
- Where a dress code or uniform exists, all persons are to follow the dress code or uniform that accords with their biological sex.
- Participation in parish, school, and co-curricular activities must be consistent with the biological sex of the participant.
- Admission to single-sex programs, including but not limited to single-sex schools, camps, and retreats, is restricted to persons of the designated biological sex.
- No person is permitted to have on-site or to distribute any medications for the purpose of gender reassignment. Also, students and those entrusted to the care of the Church are not permitted to take “puberty blockers,” even if self-administered, on parish or school property, with the purpose of a potential or actual “gender reassignment.”
- Those entrusted to the care of the Church who express a tension between their biological sex and their “gender” and others directly affected by this tension (parents, guardians, etc.) should be guided to appropriate ministers and counselors who will assist the person in a manner that is in accord with the directives and teachings of the Church.
In conclusion, the diocese of Des Moines provides a framework, rooted in the teaching of the Church on the human person, to address the growing issue of gender identity crisis among the youth, including Catholic youth. Any approach must first ground itself in the dignity of the human person. This includes the union of body and soul, or sex and gender, as expressed in nature and divine revelation. Any approaches that deny the reality of nature and contradict divine revelation (for the Catholic) “do not promote the common good of society, particularly when it comes to the institutions of marriage and family, the complementarity of the sexes as established by God, the generation and nurturing of children, and overall human flourishing in relation to other persons in society.”
Please click here for the diocese FAQ regarding the polices.
God bless to diocese of Des Moines! A true light in the growing darkness.
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