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'Not a sin to be transgender': Priest defends trans community after Michigan diocese says LGBTQ+ people can't be baptized

By AYIE LICSI Published Dec 10, 2021 5:50 pm

In July, the Diocese of Marquette released a guidance that advised its priests to deny all holy sacraments to members of the LGBTQ+ community unless they "repented."

"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," it read.

The policy made the rounds online this December after Michigan priest James Martin shared his thoughts on the drastic restrictions, which stipulated that transgender and non-binary people cannot receive baptism, communion, and confirmation.

'Not a sin'

Martin maintained that being transgender isn't a sin that would need repentance like the guidance wants to impose.

"It is not a sin to be transgender. Transgender people are beloved children of God struggling to understand their identity. They need to be accepted with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity,'" the priest wrote on Dec. 7.

"As Cardinal Gregory told a trans person, 'You belong to the heart of this church.'"

The instructions also stated that having same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria is not sinful but "freely acting upon them is." In addition to repenting, an LGBTQ+ Catholic must leave their partner to receive holy sacraments.

The measure did, however, state that queer people should be treated with "dignity and respect" and that "all unjust discrimination is to be avoided." Still, it received backlash online, with Twitter users calling it "discriminatinatory" and "non-inclusive."

Other takes

In addition, Jennifer Haselberger, a former chancellor for canonical affairs in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, told the Washington Post that this controversial policy might go against part of canon law.

“There’s nobody who approaches baptism from a state of perfection. The presumption is the opposite. You come to baptism as a sinner, and original sin is forgiven you,’ she said.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, also told the news outlet that this guidance could create a rift among Catholics who welcome trans and non-binary people and those who don't

"The new issue for American bishops became gender identity, more than anything else, “he said. “And I think with the new generation—that there is a new understanding of gender and more visibility for people who don’t identify with the gender binary—that it’s going to happen."