Wisdom Wednesday | A Pastoral Approach to Gender

AUSCP NewsRoundup

Due to a retreat and scheduled vacation, Wisdom Wednesday is presenting preplanned collections of items for the next several weeks, with a return to the customary style and format on September 13.

This week we offer a series of reports on A Pastoral Approach to Gender by Barb Arland-Fye, editor of The Catholic Messenger, newspaper of the Diocese of Davenport. Arland-Fye reports on the work of the diocesan Gender Committee formed by Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula. (Zinkula was recently appointed by Pope Francis as the next Archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa.)

While this series was written over the past two years for a particular diocese, readers will find many areas of common concern and appreciation for the challenges of A Pastoral Approach to Gender.

Part 1: Reflecting carefully on the issue of gender

“Persons who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming are our children, siblings, parishioners, neighbors and friends.”

“Transgenderism is a complex reality about which no one individual, organization or institution possesses complete wisdom.”

— Diocesan Family Life Coordinator Marianne Agnoli

Part 2: A deacon family’s journey with transgenderism

After their eldest child, then a college freshman told Deacon Ray and Laurie Dever that she was transgender they depended on prayer, their faith, love of family and each other for guidance.

— Barb Arland-Fye, The Catholic Messenger

Part 3: The Church calls us to listen to people on the margins

Bishop Thomas Zinkula reflected on why the Gender Committee was formed.

“I have been haunted by a story a parent shared with the diocese’s Gender Committee a couple of months ago of a child who was told by the pastor how the youth had to dress at the confirmation Mass. Even after complying, the pastor didn’t allow the youth to receive Communion. The next Sunday the pastor preached that LGBTQ+ people will go to hell. On Monday, the young person attempted suicide. This type of thing should never ever happen.”

“The work of the committee is not about undermining Church teaching. It is about engaging a group of people who are on the margins, listening to them, accepting them as persons, accompanying them, loving them. That is the starting point to everything the Church does.”

Part 4: Gender Committee has been listening and now wants to reach out

Committee members reported at their July 25 meeting on two initiatives underway: the development of a guide for pastoral accompaniment of sexual and gender minorities in schools and parishes, and outreach to them and their families.

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