Archbishop Alexander Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon released A Catholic Response to Gender Identity Theory: Catechesis and Pastoral Guidelines on January 25th. In an introductory letter, he explained that its purpose is “to provide clarity on the Catholic Church’s teaching on gender identity theory.” He said the guidelines are offered as “a teaching and formation resource and also as encouragement and hope for everyone working with those dealing with gender identity issues.”
“This document,” he continued, “aims to provide preliminary guidance for Catholic schools, religious education programs, sacramental preparation programs and youth ministry activities for our youth up to 18 years of age in the Archdiocese of Portland, in order to support and accompany gender-questioning students and their families in a way that ensures our Catholic institutions fulfill their Catholic mission.”
CWR: In the document, you note that the number of “trans-identified” people in the U.S. has doubled since 2017. Why do you believe this is so?
Archbishop Sample: This phenomenon has really felt somewhat like a tsunami coming at us. I am at a loss to explain how it has taken such a foothold in our culture. The cultural shift that has happened has been quite stunning. Forty-three percent who identify as transgender are below the age of 25, and I think it is undeniable that social media has had a great influence on them rather than older persons or the wisdom of the Church. In a moment of confusion young people are exposed to these ideas that say you can be something other than what you’re created to be and you can define what you are.
I also suspect that making money is involved, in the area of treatment for transitioning….
CWR: You conclude your document with a section entitled: “Whole-Person Affirmation: A Catholic Response.” Suppose someone you care about has embraced gender identity theory perhaps even to the point of considering “transitioning” him or herself. Talk about accompaniment and what a proper Catholic response might be.
Archbishop Sample: As we outline in the document, these young people need to be reaffirmed in their belovedness. As we accompany them, they need to know up front unequivocally that they are loved, and that we love them, and we will be there for them. We will not abandon them, and will not judge or condemn them. We will walk with them and lead them to the truth and to Jesus.
We need to affirm the sacramentality of their bodies, and that the body is good. We need to declare that there is no hard, fast right way to be a boy or a girl. We have lost sight of this; we don’t have to live with gender stereotypes, there is a lot of diversity in how one can live out masculinity and femininity.
We have to walk with them, talk with them, engage with them, hear them and love them deeply. This is especially important for parents to do with their children.
CWR: Any final thoughts?
Archbishop Sample: In responding to some of the resistance the document has received, I wonder how many have read it. We are heavily influenced by the culture around us, and many of our own Catholic people may have adopted gender identity theory. I want them to read this document — not just the guidelines, but to dig deep into the teaching. Read it carefully, slowly and prayerfully. Read it again. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you through the wisdom of the Church, and the wisdom of the Creator.
One comment by the “de-transitioned” Chloe Cole that struck me was that she said adults need to take a stand. Complacency is what let this to happen to her in the first place. For the sake of our children, we have to be the adults in the room. We need to help these young people, guide them, and lead them in mercy and in love.
Full interview by James Graves at Catholic World Report.