My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The Boy Scouts of America announced on Jan. 30, 2017, that, “Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application.” In other words, the Boy Scouts of America will accept youth members for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts who self-identify as male regardless of the child’s biological sex or physical anatomy from birth.
According to the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, “the Boy Scouts of America has assured its faith-based organization chartered partners that, as in the past, they will be able to organize their Packs, Troops, Crews, Sea Scouts Ships, and Explorer Posts in a way completely consistent with their religious beliefs.” This is in keeping with a legal opinion provided to the Boy Scouts of America “permitting religious chartered organizations to use the Scouting program to develop youth consistent with their organizational mission and in accordance with their religious beliefs. … Those religious organizations are exempt from most, if not all, state and local place of public accommodation laws and, even if they are not exempt, are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
Therefore, following our Catholic religious beliefs, our approach in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois will continue to be that only biological males from the time of birth may participate with the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts organizations chartered or sponsored by or using the facilities of Catholic entities in our diocese. Similarly, Girl Scout units that allow boys who claim to be transgender “girls” will not be allowed to use our facilities.
Our religious understanding of this issue was clearly articulated by Pope Francis, who has called gender theory a “global war” against the family, saying, on Aug. 2, 2016, “Gender ideology is the annihilation of man as the image of God.” The Holy Father added, “Today in schools they are teaching this to children — to children! — that everyone can choose their gender,” according to a transcript of the pope’s remarks issued by the Vatican.
In light of the recent announcement from the Boy Scouts of America, it was very timely that I attended a conference on transgender issues presented in Irving, Texas, by the National Catholic Bioethics Center. There was much valuable information provided to the bishops who attended this conference, so I would like to share some of the more important points with you.
Transgenderism or gender transitioning is the attempted exchange of one’s unambiguous, biological and clearly defined sexual identity as male or female for the other sex, that is, a male attempting to alter himself to become female, or a female attempting to alter herself to become male. We are not talking about those rare cases of congenital birth defects where a person’s biological sex may be anatomically ambiguous. There is no physical basis to a person claiming to be transgender; it is based on a person’s feeling and identification with the opposite sex other than their gender from birth.
While some people may tend to sympathize with the claims that a transgender person “feels trapped in the wrong body,” there is no scientific basis for these transgender claims. “Transgender” is not a medical diagnosis, but a subjective claim. The mental or emotional distress experienced by people who perceive a discrepancy between their biologically assigned gender and their subjectively experienced gender is a medical condition called gender dysphoria. The morally acceptable approach to gender dysphoria is bodily acceptance therapy, whereby the person is counseled to accept the biological sexual gender with which he or she was born. Bodily acceptance therapy seeks to correct transgender beliefs and mitigate transgender desires.
Gender transitioning efforts, including behavioral, hormonal or surgical treatments, which seek to affirm a person’s transgender beliefs and act on bringing about a person’s transgender desires, are never morally sound. Research shows that gender transitioning efforts are not medically sound either. Studies show that surgical interventions do not ultimately resolve feelings of anxiety and dysphoria and appear to lead to a significant increase in attempted or completed suicides. In fact studies also show most children who claim to identify as transgender will simply revert to feeling comfortable with the gender of their biological sex from birth by the time they become adults, even if they are simply left alone without any therapeutic intervention.
Some people are surprised that transgender issues have burst so quickly and dramatically on the scene. But the issue, in fact, has been developing for some time and is not about to go away anytime soon. People should also realize that the transgender movement is not just about who can use which bathrooms and locker rooms, but is part of a larger subversive ideological goal that seeks to eliminate any distinction between male and female. According to a former State Department official quoted in the January 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine, “The ultimate goal, surely, is to let all people define themselves as human beings, to break out of assigned categories and challenge received wisdom.”
As noted earlier, Pope Francis has pointed out that our public schools are teaching children that they can choose their gender. Such cooperation in evil is morally wrong. There are many more moral implications that I cannot address here. For now, suffice it to say that our Catholic institutions — parishes, schools, universities and hospitals — must reject the false ideologies being promoted in our secular culture and stand for the truth revealed to us by God.
May God give us this grace. Amen.