A Catholic diocese in Michigan has asked its pastors to deny baptism, communion and other sacraments to gay, trans and non-binary people, unless they have “repented.”

Warning: This story has details of homophobic and transphobic views of a religious organisation and might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

Bishop Asks For Repentance

Bishop Reverend John F Doerfler of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette outlined a set of guidelines  for the church in July. The guidance says that those in same sex relationships or those who have undergone or attempted “gender transitioning” may not be baptised or receive communion or act as sponsor for someone else undergoing these ceremonies.

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“Pastors should address such situations privately with the persons and advise them that they should not present themselves for Holy Communion unless they have withdrawn from the relationship and have received the Sacrament of Penance,” the document said.

“Similarly, a person who publicly identifies as a different gender than his or her biological sex or has attempted “gender transitioning” may not be Baptized, Confirmed, or received into full communion in the Church, unless the person has repented.”

Compares Trans People To People With Anorexia

The document said that children who have parents in a same-sex  relationship may be baptised and receive communion “provided that there is a wellfounded hope that the children will be raised and educated in the Catholic faith.”  

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In the guidelines, the Michigan diocese compared trans people to those suffering from anorexia. 

“A good analogy is how we would help persons who are suffering from anorexia nervosa.  In this disorder there is an incongruence between how the persons perceive themselves and their bodily reality.  They may perceive themselves as overweight when they are quite thin.”  

“Just as we would refer a person with anorexia to an expert to help him or her, let us also refer persons with gender dysphoria to a qualified counselor to help them while we show them the depth of our love and friendship.”

‘It’s Not A Sin’

The guidelines were first issued in July this year but went viral last week on social media when Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, LGBTQ advocate and best-selling author, criticized it on Twitter, saying “It is not a sin to be transgender.”

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“Transgender people are beloved children of God struggling to understand their identity. They need to be accepted with “respect, compassion and sensitivity.” As Cardinal Gregory told a trans person,  “You belong to the heart of this church.””

Executive director of DignityUSA, which advocates for LGBTQ rights in the Catholic Church Marianne Duddy-Burke described the guidlines as the “most egregious” ever issued by a diocese.

“This educational mandate was sort of just put on the shelf by almost every other country in the world, but it just shows how many culture warrior bishops we have here in the United States, that they have really amplified this kind of teaching to the detriment of LGBTQ Catholics, who feel evermore excluded by the hierarchy of our church,” Duddy-Burke said.

Sexual Sins Are Not The Most Serious, Says Pope

Duddy-Burke added these guidelines are part of a larger trend where the Catholic church looks like they are providing help for LGBTQ people but are really causing more harm.

In the same week these guidelines came under fire, Pope Francis said during a press conference that sexual sins are not the most serious.

According to the Pope “Sins of the flesh are not the most serious,” and instead people should be more concerned about sins of pride and hatred.

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

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