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.'"
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." As Cardinal Gregory told a trans person, "You belong to the heart of this church."— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) December 7, 2021
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."
If you don’t know what spiritual abuse is, just read the recent letter from the Diocese of Marquette.#spiritualabuse— Kelly Wilson (@kmwilson2) December 8, 2021
Denying Communion in the Catholic Church to LGBTQI people is a direct affront to Pope Francis, who as Catholic tradition holds is Infallible because the first Pope, St. Peter was appointed by Christ, but you do you Diocese of Marquette. PS it's a direct affront to Jesus— Merry Patmas! (@QuadCityPat) December 8, 2021
One in 6 adults in Generation Z identifies as LGBTQ, according to survey data released by Gallup in February. One in 6 adults now banned from even receiving prayers for healing, baptism or communion from the Diocese of Marquette. Disgusting.— Frank - 'Love, Children, Planet' - Schaeffer (@Frank_Schaeffer) December 9, 2021
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."