Catholic Diocese of Marquette explains new guidance on transgender church members
Guidance instructs priests to withhold full communion and other sacraments to transgender people
MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Catholic Diocese of Marquette is asking its pastors to deny baptism, confirmation and other sacraments to transgender and non-binary people unless they have “repented.”
The guidance was issued in July. But, it is getting national attention now after a prominent priest and advocate for LGBTQ+ Catholics, James Martin, shared it on Twitter.
Bishop John Doerfler of the Marquette Diocese says acting on the feelings of “gender dysphoria” can be an obstacle.
“It’s important for us to come to a realization of the gift of the body that the lord has given us,” said Doerfler. “He’s given us this body as male or female to acknowledge that, to treasure that, and to respect that.”
The Diocese’s guidance says “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.”
The same applies to people “publicly living in a same-sex sexual relationship.”
Ross Murray, Senior Director of GLAAD Media Institute, which promotes LGBTQ+ acceptance and cultural change, calls the Diocese’s position harmful.
“It uses ministry as a weapon against people for who they are,” Murray said. “And I think...having the avenues of participating in the life of the church gets really harmful when those things get cut off from you.”
Andrew Plocher, Senior Pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Marquette, explained his church’s view.
“As an inclusive church, we believe that it’s not a sin to be transgender, to be in a same-sex relationship, to be gay, etc. wherever you are in your identity,” Plocher said. “As the psalmists said in Psalm 139, “We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Despite the instructions, Bishop Doerfler says it is important to reach out to people with love.
“It is important for us to do that and not just to ignore people who are in need of our friendship and journey with them in union to Christ,” Doerfler said.
Bishop Doerfler says he is open to having a dialogue with those who disagree with the Diocese’s position on the matter, as long as it is “respectful and with open hearts.”
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