The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy has issued a statement on “gender ideology”, which they say is an urgent challenge for those involved in pastoral ministry.
Around 500 UK priests and deacons are members of the CCC, which also has international branches.
In the statement, the Confraternity say that priests are increasingly meeting “individuals in our parishes unable to accept the sex in which they were born” – that is, suffering from “gender dysphoria”.
The statement is intended to help priests support those afflicted by gender dysphoria with “sensitivity and honesty”.
The priests say there is widespread confusion partly because “To suggest that a person cannot change their sex is immediately met with charges of hatred and bigotry”.
Nevertheless, they say, the answer to gender dysphoria is “is not to be found in rejecting their bodies or medically ‘correcting’ them, but in addressing the emotional and social factors that really give rise to this disassociation”.
They write: “While bodily defects can occur, even concerning sexual organs, they are clearly recognised as such and legitimately corrected. This is distinct from ‘gender ideology’ which states that our souls, or our psychological and spiritual faculties can be at variance in their sex, or ‘gender’ to that of our healthily functioning bodies.”
Speaking to the Catholic Herald, a leading priest member of the Confraternity said that there seemed to be a “lack of guidance for pastors and Catholic institutions” on transgender issues, possibly because “gender ideology” had grown so quickly in recent years. “Never has there been such an evident moral challenge to Christian anthropology with so little response,” the priest said.
He added: “There are already Catholic institutions that have accommodated themselves to principles of gender ideology and risk abandoning key foundations of our understanding of what it means to be human.”
Catholic schools havr a particular need for good guidelines, he said, as they come under pressure to conform to “secular notions of gender”.
The CCC statement emphasises that the current state of public debate does not help those experiencing gender dysphoria. “Proponents of gender ideology often seek to advance their cause through polemic and propaganda which do nothing to help people who are often deeply troubled and whose situation requires patience and kindness,” the statement says.
It points out that many who undergo gender reassignment surgery “will later regret it”.
The priests warn that teenagers, in particular, may be rushed into irreversible treatments at a vulnerable time in their life when they should be offered “a time of waiting, prayer and reflection, which will make possible a change of direction.”
“True and lasting happiness lies in accepting who it is that God has made us, for His plans for us are always plans of infinite love,” the statement says.