Catholic bishops in England, Wales issue pastoral statement against transgender interventions

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(CP) Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales released guidance last week urging against medical and social transitioning for trans-identified children.

"Medical intervention for children should not be supported," the bishops wrote in an April 24 document titled "Intricately Woven by the Lord," which serves as a "pastoral reflection on gender."

"Social 'transition' can have a formative effect on a child's development and this should be avoided with young children."

The bishops expressed compassion toward adults and children struggling with gender dysphoria, presenting it as a symptom of human fallenness that awaits redemption through Jesus Christ.

"We cannot encourage or give support to reconstructive or drug-based medical intervention that harms the body," the bishops wrote. "Nor can we legitimize or uphold a way of living that is not respectful of the truth and vocation of each man and each woman, called to live according to the divine plan."

"Rather, when a family or person experiencing these challenges seeks to be accompanied on their Christian journey, our aim is to help them rediscover and cherish their humanity as it was conceived and created by God, body and soul," the bishops continued. 

The document stressed the importance of remembering that humans are created in the image of God, saying humans are inextricably physical and spiritual beings and called to honor God's image in them by not pursuing interventions to "reassign" their gender.

"Pastoral accompaniment must flow from an acceptance and celebration of the body as created, respect for parents as primary educators and uphold best practice in terms of safeguarding principles," the bishops said.

The document's themes echoed the guidance the Vatican issued earlier this month. On April 22, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith released a declaration titled "Dignitas Infinita," which clarifies the Catholic Church's positions on various issues related to human dignity.

"[E]very person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while 'every unjust sign of discrimination' is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence," the document said.

While acknowledging that LGBT people deserve to be treated with dignity, the guidance condemned "gender theory" as an example of "a personal self-determination" that "amounts to a concession to the age-old temptation to make oneself God."

Such a worldview, the guidance maintained, rejects the teaching that "human life, in all its dimensions, both physical in spiritual, is a gift from God" that "is to be accepted with gratitude and placed at the service of the good."

The 10-page pastoral reflection from the English and Welsh bishops was reportedly prepared over two years. Its release so close to the Vatican's guidance was not planned, according to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who serves as archbishop of Westminster.

Even so, Nichols told the media last Wednesday that both documents are in "absolute harmony," according to The Irish News.

Secular authorities in the United Kingdom have also questioned the efficacy of transgender interventions for minors.

Earlier this month, the release of the "Cass Report" urged the National Health Services to "review the policy on masculinizing/feminizing hormones" and recommended "extreme caution" when prescribing cross-sex hormones to minors.

The review was commissioned in response to the exponential increase of youth seeking treatment for gender dysphoria over the past decade and noted the poor quality of studies examining the long-term use of puberty blockers to treat children with gender dysphoria.

"There should be a clear clinical rationale for providing hormones at this stage rather than waiting until an individual reaches 18," the report said.

After the report's release, the NHS advised its "gender clinics to implement a pause" on first appointments for those under 18.

A recent study by 11 scientists with the Mayo Clinic found that boys who take puberty-blocking drugs could be at risk of developing atrophied testicles and long-term infertility issues, despite claims that such drugs are reversible.

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