CV NEWS FEED // The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued an unequivocal statement condemning transgender interventions and forbidding Catholic hospitals to perform them.
The document lays out principles on the broader issue of attempts to manipulate and customize the human body – such as genetic engineering, “cybernetic enhancement,” and other aspects of transhumanism – which is expected to become of increasing importance as technology advances.
“There is an order in human nature which we are called to respect,” the document states. “Genuine respect for human dignity requires that decisions about the use of technology be guided by genuine respect for this created order.”
The bishops rejected the idea that someone can be born into the wrong body:
The soul does not come into existence on its own and somehow happen to be in this body, as if it could just as well be in a different body. A soul can never be in another body, much less be in the wrong body.
Quoting the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the document says that biological sex “cannot be reduced to a pure and insignificant biological fact, but rather is a fundamental component of personality, one of its modes of being, of manifestation, of communicating with others, of feeling, of expressing and of living human love.'”
The document also quotes Pope Francis, who has written:
The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation.
The bishops lay out two scenarios in which technological interventions on the human body can be morally justified: to repair a defect in the body, or when the sacrifice of one part is necessary for the welfare of the whole body. These are contrasted with procedures which “aim to alter the fundamental order of the body.”
Transgender interventions, such as “bottom surgery,” mastectomies of healthy breasts, vocal cord surgeries, and other procedures designed to make a person appear more like someone of the opposite sex “are attempts to alter the fundamental order and finality of the body and replace it with something else,” the bishops said. “Such interventions, thus, do not respect the fundamental order of the human person as an intrinsic unity of body and soul, with a body that is sexually differentiated.”
The document makes a clear statement to Catholic hospitals: “Catholic health care services must not perform interventions, whether surgical or chemical, that aim to transform the sexual characteristics of a human body into those of the opposite sex or take part in the development of such procedures.”
The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), the leading institution on issues of Catholic medical morality and ethics, applauded the document.
“So-called transitioning interventions tear away from reality and reject the dignity of the body,” they said in a statement. “They put patients on the road to heartache, leading to only apparent happiness with deeper suffering and, for many, a lifetime of destructive chemicals and surgeries.”
“Against this tidal wave of transgender activism, authentic care for people with gender dysphoria must be rooted in a proper understanding of the order within creation and an accurate application of Catholic ethical principles,” the NCBC said.
NCBC ethicists Dr. Ted Furton and Dr. John Brehany have discussed the document and its implications for the future of Catholic healthcare in a podcast episode, which readers can find here.
CatholicVote Director of Communications Joshua Mercer also welcomed the statement, saying it will be “imperative” for Catholic healthcare facilities to “follow these ethical guidelines, which offer the best care for people suffering with gender dysphoria.”
“It’s so important for Catholics in the trenches, who often bear the brunt of secular ideological movements like the ‘trans’ movement, to see leadership like this from our bishops,” Mercer added:
With the Biden administration doing everything it can to undermine the religious freedom and conscience rights of Catholics in healthcare, we’ve still got a long battle in front of us. But it means a lot knowing our leaders have our back.