On May 14th, in Edmonton and Calgary, there were Parents for Choice in Education Rallies protesting against Bill 10 and Minister David Eggen’s Gender Diversity: Guidelines for Best Practices There were also much smaller LGBT counter protests.
Despite the differing signage, ranging from “Flush Bill 10” to “Everyone Can Pee,” the issues are not just about bathrooms, plumbing and urination, parental rights, safety of children, how people feel, GSAs and an imperfect Bill 10. What is at stake is the very order of creation.
Mr. Eggen's guiding principle for best practices is: “self-identification is the sole measure of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” This foundational statement is simply assumed to be true and no evidence is offered to substantiate the claim.
Such subjectivity is ever expansive and morally problematic. LGBT has now swelled to LGBTTQQIAAP2S. The two Ts stand for transgender and transsexual and the double Qs represent both “queer” and “questioning”. The I is for intersex; the twin As for “asexual” and “ally”—the latter meaning you’re hetero but down with the cause. P is for pansexual, the catch-all for being up for pretty much anything depending on the situation. The newest addition is the “2S” which denotes being two-spirited, a term used for one who does not fit into the male/female binary. Some have even added “BDSM” for those into bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism.
However, facts, not ideology, determine reality. On April 6, 2016, the American College of Pediatricians, representing more than a hundred pediatricians, issued an important statement concerning gender ideology stating:
- Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of health – not genetic markers of a disorder. The norm for human design is to be conceived either male or female. Human sexuality is binary by design with the obvious purpose being the reproduction and flourishing of our species.
- No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one. No one is born with an awareness of themselves as male or female; this awareness develops over time and, like all developmental processes, may be derailed by a child’s subjective perceptions, relationships, and adverse experiences from infancy forward. People who identify as “feeling like the opposite sex” or “somewhere in between” do not comprise a third sex. They remain biological men or biological women.
- A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking. When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such. These children suffer from gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria (GD), formerly listed as Gender Identity Disorder (GID), is a recognized mental disorder in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-V). The psychodynamic and social learning theories of GD/GID have never been disproved.
The College’s statement meshes perfectly with biblical and theological truths.
The primordial divine plan was spoken of clearly by Christ himself: “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female? (Mt.19:4).” At the core we see the father and the mother, a couple with their personal story of love: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen.2:24).” The result of this union is that, both physically and in the union of their hearts and lives, and eventually, in a child who will share not only genetically but also spiritually in the “flesh” of both parents. The family is thus the place where parents become their children’s first teachers.
Pope Francis, “the who am I to judge” Pope, has not minced his words: “the gender ideology is demonic.” He includes gender theory among the fundamental dangers of our era, with the same threatening potential as nuclear weapons and gene manipulation and describes it as an attitude with which man creates a new sin that is directed against God the Creator.
In his long awaited Apostolic Exhortation on the Family, the Joy of Love, Pope Francis renews his criticism of gender theory:
“Yet another challenge is posed by the various forms of an ideology of gender that denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programmes and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time.”
“It is a source of concern that some ideologies of this sort, which seek to respond to what are at times understandable aspirations, manage to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised. It needs to be emphasized that biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated” (56)
“Beyond the understandable difficulties which individuals may experience, the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created, for thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation… Sex education should help young people to accept their own bodies and to avoid the pretension to cancel out sexual differences because one no longer know how to deal with it.” (285)
☩ Frederick Henry
In one of his homilies (29/04/2013), Pope Francis commented on the text: "God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all" [1 Jn 1:5]. He pointed out that "we all have darkness in our lives, moments where everything, even our consciousness, is in the dark." But this does not mean we walk in darkness:
Walking in darkness means being overly pleased with ourselves, believing that we do not need salvation. That is darkness! When we continue on this road of darkness, it is not easy to turn back. Therefore, John continues, because this way of thinking made him reflect: 'If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us'. Look to your sins, to our sins, we are all sinners, all of us… This is the starting point. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful, He is so just He forgives us our sins, cleansing us from all unrighteousness… The Lord who is so good, so faithful, so just that He forgives.
Pope Francis urges us to stand in front of the Lord "with our truth of sinners," "with confidence, even with joy, without masquerading… shame is a virtue: blessed shame." This is the virtue that Jesus asks of us: humility and meekness.
The process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) has brought about a painful awakening for so many Catholics, and we see our culpability much more clearly than we did before. Some of the darkness has been lifted and our "blessed shame" has occasioned many apologies, before and during the TRC process, and has taught us much about humility and meekness.
Although many priests, brothers, sisters and lay people served in the residential school with generosity, faithfulness, care and respect for their students, this was not always the case. The TRC final report rightly observes that when Christians, through the residential schools, belittled Indigenous students as pagans or demonized, and punished and terrorized them into accepting Christian beliefs, this was in fundamental contradiction to the core beliefs of Christianity. In addition to the reprehensible crimes of sexual abuse, the failures to respect the identity and freedom of Indigenous children outlined in the TRC report are saddening and must never be repeated.
The TRC's Call to Action, recommendation #48 states: "We call upon the church parties to the Settlement Agreement, and all other faith groups and interfaith social justice groups in Canada who have not already done so, to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms, and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation."
Four Catholic organizations — the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canadian Religious Conference, the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council, and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace — in responding to the questions raised on the legal concepts known as Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius (no one's land) have issued two documents on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the principal saint of Canada.
The Catholic response to Call to Action #48 issues an appeal to all Catholics to make eight commitments in order to walk together in breaking open a future of acceptance, respect, justice, and reconciliation. I will cite four of those commitments that have particular relevance to our Diocese:
- Continue to work with Catholic educational institutions and programs of formation in learning to tell the history of Canada in a way that is truthful, ensuring proper treatment of the history and experience of Indigenous Peoples, including the experience of oppression and marginalization which resulted from the Indian Act, the Residential School system, and frequent ignoring or undermining of signed treaties.
- Work with centres of pastoral and clergy formation to promote a culture of encounter by including the study of the history of Canadian missions, with both their weaknesses and strengths, which encompasses the history of the Indian Residential Schools. In doing this, it will be important to be attentive to Indigenous versions of Canadian history, and for these centres to welcome and engage Indigenous teachers in the education of clergy and pastoral workers, assuring that each student has the opportunity to encounter Indigenous cultures as part of their formation.
- Encourage initiatives that would establish and strengthen a restorative justice model within the criminal justice system. Incarceration rates among Indigenous people are many times higher than among the general population, and prisons are not sufficiently places of reconciliation and rehabilitation. Such initiatives include the renewal of the criminal justice system through sentencing and healing circles and other traditional Indigenous ways of dealing with offenders where appropriate and desired by Indigenous Peoples.
- Support the current national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and work with others towards a healthier society where just relations flourish in families and communities, and where those most vulnerable are protected and valued.
The second document responds to the errors and falsehood perpetrated, often by Christians, during and following the so-called Age of Discovery. Both documents and appendixes can be found on the CCCB website, http://www.cccb.ca/site/index.php?lang=eng.
☩ Frederick Henry
As Catholic Christians we speak in terms that are informed by reason, ethical dialogue, religious conviction, and profound respect for the dignity of the human person. Our awareness is shaped by thousands of years of reflection, prayer, and by our actions as Christians following Jesus. He showed most fully what it means to love, to serve, and to be present to others. His response to the suffering of others was to suffer with them, not to kill them. He accepted suffering in his life as the pathway to giving, to generosity, and to mercy. In Jesus’ life and through his actions, we are offered a supreme example of humanity.
The values of Jesus of Nazareth are the basis for our views on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
In a spirit of collaboration in building a society that is more compassionate, more respectful of all human life, more just, and more generous, we have a number of issues to ponder, pray about, and discuss, for example:
- Euthanasia means killing someone - such as by a lethal injection to end his or her suffering. Physician-assisted suicide means a doctor provides the means for someone to kill oneself (proscribing a lethal dose of medication). The distinction lies in who initiates the process – the doctor or the patient.
- One of the most important principles of palliative care is to manage the pain, or illness, of patients while neither hastening death, nor prolonging the dying process. With proper palliative care, almost all requests for euthanasia would disappear.
- Euphemisms such as "medical aid in dying" or "mercy killing" or "dying with dignity" or "terminating the suffering" or "physician-assisted death" do not change the fact that allowing assisted suicide and euthanasia makes it legal to kill someone (euthanasia) or to aid in their suicide (assisted suicide).
- Physicians and other health care staff have a basic right to conscientiously object to hastening a patient’s death through assisted suicide or euthanasia and should never be forced to do so.
- Every person, at the end of life, would benefit from good palliative care, but in Alberta there are only a handful of qualified palliative care physicians and far too few palliative care and hospice beds.
- There is a huge difference between palliative sedation and euthanasia. With palliative sedation, the intent is to reduce consciousness to ease suffering. The intent of euthanasia, however, is to kill the person.
- A government advisory panel in December of 2015 and a joint committee in February 2016 recommended the widest possible access to physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. One of the panel’s recommendation was to eventually allow terminally ill children ("mature minors") the right to ask their doctor to hasten their death.
- Doctors who are against euthanasia and who care for terminally ill children argue that virtually all pain and other symptoms can be managed to minimize suffering. If pain is not being managed well, a new doctor should be consulted. Don’t kill the patient.
- In jurisdictions where euthanasia has been legalized, the initial restrictions have eroded. Belgium, for example, now allows euthanasia for terminally ill children of any age, with the consent of parents and doctors.
- No human being dies in a social vacuum. Consider how other people will be impacted by assisted suicide and euthanasia. Consider the impact on the person who is responsible for ending someone’s life.
- Many doctors and other health professionals who want nothing to do with killing their patients may feel forced to leave the profession. Young adults considering a medical profession may choose another path if they are expected to become killers instead of healers.
- The legislation of assisted suicide could lead to the natural process of dying being recast as a process to be avoided. This could lead to pressuring patients or their families to choose a hastened death as a cost-saving measure.
- The normalization of suicide through legislation of physician-assisted suicide could significantly impact suicide prevention programs. What happens if suicide, instead of being a tragedy to avoid, becomes an acceptable option or a "responsible" choice?
- All persons deserve protection against discrimination, but especially those who are vulnerable and may not have a voice, including those living with disabilities, mental illness, or dementia. Allowing assisted suicide and euthanasia entrenches the idea that some lives are not worth living.
Let us pray:
Mary, woman of listening, open our ears; grant us to know how to listen to the word of your son Jesus among the thousands of words of this world; grant that we may listen to the reality in which we live, to every person we encounter, especially those who are poor, in need, in hardship.
Mary, woman of decision, illuminate our mind and our heart, so that we may obey, unhesitating, the word of your son Jesus; give us the courage to decide, not to let ourselves be dragged along, letting others direct our life.
Mary, woman of action, obtain that our hands and feet move "with haste" toward others, to bring them the charity and love of your son - Jesus, to bring the light of the Gospel to the world, as you did. Amen.
~Pope Francis, 2013
☩ Frederick Henry