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The Trans Controversy: America’s Bishops Confront a Divided Nation and a Divided Church

In a recent essayProvidence College theology professor Paul Gondreau argues that many bishops believe that the prudent way to address our culture’s descent into moral degeneration is to ignore it. While the USCCB produced an excellent paper three months ago on the moral limits of medical intervention for those seeking transgender procedures, there hasn’t been much follow-up on the larger moral issues. For example, with the exception of Bishop Joseph Strickland, it was lay Catholics who led the opposition to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ decision to honor a group of drag men whose primary mission in the life is to mock Christianity and especially Catholicism.

Catholics won this round in the culture wars, but they did so without much help from their bishops, who no doubt hope the whole Pride movement will die out. But will it disappear? Despite the defeat of the drag queens in Los Angeles and the setbacks that have befallen Target and Budweiser, it would be a mistake for Catholics to imagine that any turning point has been reached.

Shortly after the Dodgers lost faceEric Sammons, editor of crisis, visited the Cincinnati Pride Parade. He was surprised by the turnout. According to some estimates, 175,000 people attended the parade and/or the Pride Festival that followed. Equally surprising were the many “normal” families in attendance: “mother and father brought their young children, all dressed in rainbows.”

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The battle is not half or even a tenth over. To imagine that the battle is about to end is to misunderstand our current situation. It is not as if there are two parties who disagree on issues that can be resolved through some sort of compromise. What separates the two sides in the current conflict is a total divide: two diametrically opposed views of life.

Many commentators have compared our current situation to the pre-Civil War years in America, when the nation was divided over the issue of slavery. However, some of these historians claim that Americans are more divided now than they were then. In his book Sumter’s Gambitwrites Robert Spencer:

So today there are two opposing nations in America, both regarding each other with considerable fear and contempt, and both believing that the other will destroy all that is good about the United States if given half a chance.

The situation, says Spencer, is similar to that which prevailed in the Civil War, but with a notable difference. Spencer observes that “no matter how deep the division between the two Americas was at the time [over the issue of slavery], they still had a common culture, a common religion, a common heritage and a common vision”. In an attempt to reconcile the two Americas, Lincoln observed in his Second Inaugural Speech that, “they both read the same Bible and pray to the same God.”

But that can hardly be said today.

In Lincoln’s time, the vast majority of Americans were Christians. Even in the early 1990s, 90 percent of Americans identified as Christians. Since then, however, the numbers have plummeted. In 2020, only 64 percent of Americans describe themselves as Christians. Meanwhile, 26% of the population identified as “religiously unaffiliated” or “None.” In other words, it is no longer possible to say that we all “read the same Bible and pray to the same God.”

But it’s a bit more complicated than that. It’s not like the “Nones” don’t believe in any God. According to a Pew poll, 72 percent of “Nones” believe in God or a higher power, and many consider themselves “spiritual”.

But this does not necessarily mean that they pray to the same God. GK Chesterton He said that “when a man stops believing in God, then he doesn’t believe in anything, he believes in anything.” For our times, this could be amended to read: “when a man ceases to believe in biblical Christianity, he is apt to believe anything about God.”

A man could, for example, create his own personalized Christianity in which God becomes a permissive father who smiles at everything he does, whether it’s promiscuity, adultery, or taking children to the pride parade. He might even find a church to support his choices, a church that welcomed all viewpoints, except of course the “rigid” and “divisive” viewpoints.

According to the canon lawyer Fr. Gerald E. Murray, the Synod on Synodality is trying to create such a Church. He calls it the Church of “Me, Me and Me”, a Church in which “God is relegated to the role of the Divine Affirmer of what each one chooses to believe.”

This is a view of the Church that seems to be more widespread among European bishops than among American bishops. Thus, American bishops who might be inclined to jump into the fray on the trans issue and other variations on the sexual revolution will find that they not only share little religious common ground with many of their fellow Americans, but also with many of their bishops. . the other side of the Atlantic.

How Bishop Athanasius Schneider As recently noted of the new “Synodal Church,” “the so-called LGBTQ movement, which includes homosexual activity and the current global totalitarian “gender ideology,” is implicitly promoted.

If our bishops face the LGBTQ+ assault, they cannot expect much support from the synodalist movement. Likewise, they cannot trust the Vatican. Instead, like Bishop Strickland, they can expect to be investigated, or worse.

If our bishops face the LGBTQ+ assault, they cannot expect much support from the synodalist movement. Likewise, they cannot trust the Vatican. Instead, like Bishop Strickland, they can expect to be investigated, or worse.tweet this

As they prepare to fight In this latest round of the culture wars, here are some points for American bishops to consider:

1. The LGBTQ+ movement is bigger than most people think. Consider the huge turnout Eric Sammons witnessed at the Pride event in relatively conservative Cincinnati. Also, the movement is growing rapidly due to social contagion. The Washington Free Beacon reports that the number of New Jersey students who identifying as “non-binary” increased by 4,000 percent between 2020 and 2023. Meanwhile, the number of Americans who identify as Christians continues to shrink. And of these, many spend much more time pursuing secular goals than Christian goals.

2. The LGBTQ+ movement is an anti-Christian movement. Although many of its members may attend Christian churches, LGBTQ+ ideology rejects two of the most basic Christian teachings, namely that God created only two genders and that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Denial of these teachings leads to a tangled web of misery for Christians and non-Christians alike.

3. Many Catholics, including priests, are naive about the LGBTQ+ movement. Not all Catholics recognize the anti-Christian nature of the movement. Some are gullible enough to believe that it really is love, as the ubiquitous “love is love” posters proclaim at Pride events. And some really believe that hearing drag queens read stories about drag queens is an enriching experience for children.

So the bishops will have to contend with a stubborn naivete on the part of Catholics who have fallen for the propaganda that trans youth must affirm themselves in whatever gender they choose, or that same-sex “marriage” is the same as real marriage. .

4. Not all Catholic parents oppose LGBTQ+ ideology. While our bishops may have traditional Catholic families to support them and even lead the way, they will encounter resistance from other Catholic families who have subscribed to LGBTQ+ ideology. For example, when Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample released guidelines for archdiocesan schools that aimed to align school transgender policy with Catholic teaching, was met with near-rebellion. Several principals and teachers resigned and many parents protested.

However, much of the resistance the US bishops will encounter will come from within their own ranks, particularly from a group of pro-LGBTQ+ bishops who hold most of America’s top church positions.

5. Don’t forget the “P” in LGBTQ+. In a thoughtful piece he wrote a few years ago, Matthew Hanley reminds us that there is a “P” in LGBTQIAP+. The P stands for “Pansexual”. But Hanley suggests we should be reminded of a couple of other “P” words, namely “pagan” and “pedophile.” He points out that ancient paganism created safe spaces for treating children as sex objects and that the modern LGBTQ+ movement has as one of its goals the re-acceptance of pedophilia.

The American bishops have a lot on their hands. But there are some issues that cannot be ignored. While the bishops are rightly concerned about the large number of children being abducted by sex traffickers at our southern border, they must also begin to worry about the even greater number of children being trafficked to an ideology perverted by some well-intentioned. but naive people—and also by a substantial number who are neither well-intentioned nor naive.

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