A Catholic diocese is taking heat from elected officials for simply upholding Church teaching and — more appallingly, though perhaps not more shockingly — protecting children from being sexualized. Late last month, the Diocese of Cleveland issued clear norms for Catholic schools, addressing issues and concerns of gender ideology. Some of those required standards include banning LGBT Pride displays or events, ensuring that students use bathrooms and play on sports teams according to their biological sexes, requiring teachers to address students by their biological pronouns, and notifying parents when students attempt to socially transition gender by using new names or pronouns, as well as other measures.
The diocese’s guidance is rooted in Scripture and longstanding Catholic teaching, starting with the most fundamental understanding of what a human is. The Church has, from antiquity, held that man is neither a purely spiritual being that just happens to have a body nor a purely corporeal being that happens to have an attached spirit, but instead a body-soul composite. That is, the essence of a human is both body and soul, and one cannot be separated from the other without destroying the essence of being human.
So far, so good. But the Church also teaches that we ourselves do not determine which body and soul we receive — God does. Being conceived isn’t a Build-A-Bear experience, consisting of picking and choosing this stuffing and that nose and so on, but is rather being breathed into existence by a loving Creator, who determines whether we are to be male or female, essential characteristics that our bodies make manifest, perhaps most notably in our sex organs. Our souls also correspond to this — after all, if one’s soul and body do not match, one’s essence is destroyed.
The Cleveland diocese summarized this fundamental truth by stating:
Our bodies, created male and female, are part of God’s intentional design in creation and are, therefore, imbued with meaning and purpose. As stewards of these gifts, we are called to accept, love, and care for our bodies as they were created.
The diocesan document also explains that separating the idea of “gender” from biological sex “erases those intentional, embodied distinctions between men and women. As such, this view is contrary to the divinely revealed reality of our true, God-given human nature.”
But far from condemning or spurning (as many leftists ignorantly proclaim the Church does) those who suffer from gender confusion, the Cleveland diocese declares:
Catholic Institutions must accompany people experiencing gender dysphoria and be committed both to providing a loving environment and to upholding the truth of God’s created reality.… Jesus Christ provides the model for walking with those in need, in truth and love, and in every way Catholic institutions must seek to imitate this example.
The diocese, in accord with the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church, urges authentic love for those suffering from gender confusion or same-sex attraction.
Yet Cleveland’s Democratic mayor, Justin Bibb, saw fit to criticize the diocese for publishing the document. Raised a Catholic, Bibb quipped, “As a Christian, the new Catholic Diocese of Cleveland anti-LGBTQ+ policy is a shocking betrayal of the Church teachings that have shaped who I am today.” He continued: “For me, faith is about universal love and acceptance. Instead, the new policy forces LGBTQ+ kids to hide their authentic selves and attend school in fear of persecution for who they are.” (READ MORE: Meet the Polish Family Martyred by the Nazis)
First of all, any statements that begin with “For me, faith is about…” can and should be summarily dismissed. While faith can certainly be a very personal matter, the thing (or, in the case of Christianity, the Person) in whom one places his faith is not subject to one’s whims and wishes and exists, of necessity, outside of oneself. The doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church are not subject to the mayor of Cleveland’s feelings, sentiments, or politics — and were he truly a devout Christian, he would rather subject his feelings, sentiments, and politics to the teachings of the Church.
However, Bibb’s comments reveal one of the key differences between Catholic truth and the ideologies presented by the secular world. Because Catholicism recognizes the existence and essential nature of the immortal soul, it seeks to love the whole person. Whereas the secular world ignores (at its own peril) the existence of the soul, giving itself license to chop up and mutilate God-given bodies in the hopes of making the mind (perhaps the clearest evidence of the marriage of body and soul) feel better, and inevitably failing. These two worldviews are diametrically opposed and even contradictory. If the Church’s position is true, then Bibb and those of his ilk not only are failing to love those struggling with gender confusion or same-sex attraction, as they claim to be doing, but are hurrying the souls of even children on their way to damnation and eternal misery.