A Catholic diocese in Michigan has instructed priests to deny baptism and communion to transgender and non-binary people unless they “repent.”
While the Vatican under Pope Francis has made tepid outreach to the LGBTQ community, American Catholic leadership has become blatantly antagonistic. Bishops have launched crusades to drive out queer and allied teachers, office workers, and choir leaders while fighting for their “religious freedom” to violate nondiscrimination laws.
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The guidance issued by the Diocese of Marquette is flatly anti-Christian, according to most observers. They say the actions likely violate church canon since baptism is meant to symbolize forgiveness from sin.
“There’s nobody who approaches baptism from a state of perfection,” Jennifer Haselberger, a former chancellor for canonical affairs in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, told the Washington Post. “The presumption is the opposite. You come to baptism as a sinner, and original sin is forgiven you.”
But diocese leaders have decreed that being transgender is a choice while sexual orientation isn’t. Being gay is only a sin if the person “acts on” it, they claim, while transgender people are transgender every day.
“The experience of incongruence in one’s sexual identity is not sinful if it does not arise from the person’s free will, nor would it stand in the way of Christian Initiation,” reads the document. “However, deliberate, freely chosen and manifest behaviors to redefine one’s sex do constitute such an obstacle.”
The document instructs priests to deny baptism, communion, confirmation, and rites meant to comfort the sick and dying.
Catholic charities, some of whom get public funding, have recently launched multiple lawsuits demanding the right to ignore nondiscrimination laws and discriminate against LGBTQ people. Catholic adoption and foster agencies have threatened to shut down and abandon the children in their care unless they are allowed to deny service to LGBTQ people.
In June, the Supreme Court decided unanimously that religion supersedes the law, at least when it comes to LGBTQ rights. In the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the justices voted to allow an adoption agency, Catholic Social Services (CSS), to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
The adoption agency sued after the city refused to refer cases to the agency due to its refusal to consider LGBTQ foster parents. The city argued that the agency’s willful violation of local nondiscrimination law meant the agency wasn’t qualified to get city business.
In 2017, a Catholic bishop in Springfield, Illinois, issued a decree to priests in his diocese to deny communion, last rites, and funeral rites to people in same-sex marriages.