Sunday, 21 January 2018

IRISH ANTI-CLERICALISM IS JUSTIFIED




ANTI-CLERICALISM AND ANTI ROMAN CATHOLICISM IN IRELAND ARE JUSTIFIED GIVEN THE LONG HISTORY OF CLERICAL DOMINATION AND ABUSE OF THE IRISH PEOPLE AND STATE BY GENERATIONS OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THAT CHURCH.

As someone born in the Republic of Ireland who has lived in Northern Ireland for 40 years now - and who has no fondness whatever for "unionism" I have to admit that when Northern Ireland unionists said that "HOME RULE IS ROME RULE" they were, in fact, expressing a truth.

During the centuries of British misrule in Ireland - a misrule that was unjust and barbaric - the British had plenty of support from Rome itself and from quite a number of Irish Catholic prelates.

There were of course quite a number of very honourable clerical exceptions to this state of affairs - but the exceptions were more inclined to be brave individual priests and not bishops.




The Roman Catholic Church, wherever it has existed, has generally favored the establishment - even when the establishment was patently evil. It took and takes this stance to protect its own interests - the wellbeing of its priests and bishops and the safeguarding of its assets. The history of the RC Church in South America bears this out. Of course, once again, there were notable exceptions like the late, great Oscar Romero of El Salvador.

When the TWENTY-SIX COUNTIES got its freedom from Britain in the early 1920's the RC Church in Ireland saw the opportunity to create a confessional Catholic state in Ireland and it went into overdrive to do so - aided and abetted by weak politicians and the Catholic middle and upper classes.

The arrangement was formalized in 1937 when John Charles McQuaid and a handful of well placed Catholic priests helped Eamon de Valera with his Catholic constitution.

After that, Irish Catholic bishops could truthfully say, that: "even in political matters the bishops were the final arbiters".

And from 1940 onwards the state was virtually under the control of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin - who had gotten his job as a result of his friend Eamon de Valera petitioning the Vatican.

As in the case of Dr. Noel Browne. the Minister for Health, government ministers could be carpeted at Archbishop's House Dublin and if they did not bend the knee they lost their office. The Taoiseach who sacked Dr. Noel Browne said: "I am a Catholic first and a politician second". McQuaid and his colleagues were king makers and king breakers - and no legislation was allowed that did not first have the approval of the Purple Parliament of Maynooth.




In 1916 the Protestant population of Ireland was 12%. Within a very short space of time, it had dwindled to 3%.

Members of Protestant churches had to sign a document guaranteeing that their children would be brought up as Roman Catholic. 

Even when I was growing up in Dublin in the 1960's it was a mortal sin to go into a Protestant church.

Catholics could not attend Trinity College Dublin without the permission of McQuaid in Drumcondra. 

Writers like McGahern were sacked from their positions as teachers and had to emigrate for writing prose that was not in line with Catholic teaching and sensitivities.

Protestant shopkeepers were put out of businesses in parishes if they defied the Catholic PP.

Pregnant girls were forcibly removed from their homes and despatched to gulags run by the Brides of Christ where they became lifelong slaves and had their babies snatched away from them by frigid nuns.

Catholic couples, deprived of access to contraception ended up with 20+ children who lived in poverty and had very limited prospects in life.

Recently the nation was subjected to sexual abuse by priests, the cover up of the abuse by bishops, the Maybooth scandal and the Tuam baby scandal.

And on, and on, and on and........................................................





To me, it is a miracle that given this history of abuse and domination the Irish People did not and do not want bishops, priests and nuns dragged to a modern guillotine. 

Even this week I marveled at how nice people are to me as a wearer of the clerical collar that symbolized all this torture.

Only yesterday, in the post office queue in Larne, an 83% Protestant town, the man in front of me asked if I was in a hurry and would I like his place in the queue. I do not know his religious affiliation. 


Of course, it is good that people are kind and respectful to each other in life.

But when it comes to PUBLIC LIFE in the Republic of Ireland, it is vital that any remaining vestiges of RC clerical domination be challenged and abolished.

On the few occasions that I brought the Roman Catholic authorities before the courts the judges reminded me that, in law, the Roman Catholic Church has the same status as a golf club.

In order to get the State to act against the RC Church, you have to prove that it acted otherwise than in accordance with it's "Rule Book" - that is Canon Law.

I found it nearly impossible to do that because:

1. Canon Law is a rule book that protects the Church establishment and its senior representatives.

2. I could not get a canon lawyer to act for me.


But at least by making bishops DEFENDANTS in court cases, I was able to set a small precedent - as when I made Cahal Daly sit in the Belfast High Court as a defendant for five days.

But, if, in civil law, the RC Church has the same status as a golf club, can we not ask:

- What golf club would be allowed to ban contraception in a country?

- What golf club would be allowed ban same-sex marriage in a country?

- What golf club would be allowed to ban access to limited abortion in a country?


I'm all in favour of the RC Church being treated as a private golf club in both civil law and daily political and social matters.

And more and more the Irish People are telling this old out of control "golf club" to get back where it belongs - its churches, its presbyteries, and its nunneries. 













Saturday, 20 January 2018

DIMINISHING THE ABORTION DEBATE


FEMINISTS PROTESTING AT MAYNOOTH STATUE

IN MY OPINION, THE ABORTION ISSUE IS NOT A FEMINIST ISSUE.


IT IS A PERSONAL, MORAL, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ISSUE - THAT AFFECTS ME AS MUCH AS A MAN AS MUCH IT AFFECTS ANY WOMAN.

As A Christian I believe that abortion can never be described as "A GOOD".

At it's moral best, and in rare situations, it can only be described as "A LESSER OF TWO EVILS".

I am speaking of situations where it a case of saving the life of the mother OR the child - and in cases of rape - and other rare cases. 

I do not go along with the PC slogan - "THE WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE".

Of course, the pregnant woman has primary rights.

But the baby (I deliberately do not use the word foetus) also has primary rights.

The father of the baby has primary rights.

And the wider family and society also has rights - although they may not be described as "primary".

I have never voted for Fianna Fail in my life as I regard them as the party of the rural conservatives -and indeed the party most identified over the years in Ireland with the Roman Catholic Church and its abuse of power. 

But I do admire the stand the FF leader, Michael Martin, took in recent days when he came out in favour of changing the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution so that limited abortion may become legal in Ireland. 




This will be a painful time in Irish society and politics and we cannot continue to have a constitution and laws that allow for a woman to die in pregnancy and which deny terminations in the most serious of medically and psychologically focused circumstances. 

It would be wonderful if we all lived in a world where everything went right all the time.

But life, including in its reproductive activities, will often throw a spanner in the works and people have hard decisions to make. 

It is not always helpful to respond to these unexpected events with moral absolutism. There is so little black and white in life and in all our lives we are walking on tightropes above a grey terrain. 

At these painful moments, when our moral ideals and absolutes are challenged, we need to be able to respond to the unexpected with a mixture of moral integrity and human practicality. 

This is especially true for those of us TRYING to be Christians - knowing that Jesus, God made man, is the bridge between the ideal and the real. 

That is why we need a spirituality, a body of knowledge and be aware of the limitations of our human efforts. 

When we come to the beginning of our own rope - we have to let go and fall into the Hands of the Living God. 

For those reading who do not believe in God - we need to let go and trust in fate and the ultimate tenderness of a universe that so often appears cruel and impersonal - a beautiful dawn or sunset or a beautiful flower growing through a crack in a concrete path.




Friday, 19 January 2018

THE SEXUAL ACTIVITIES OF D&C PRIESTS

BLOG SUBMISSION BY A DOWN AND CONNOR PRIEST

DOWN AND CONNOR
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX



"Pat, I am one of those Down and Connor priests you referred to yesterday in your Blog who is suffering from low morale and from a feeling of being leaderless, a priestly sheep without an episcopal shepherd.

While you know my identity I am not brave enough to reveal it publicly because I am afraid of the backlash I would receive not only from the bishop but even more so from priest colleagues who would regard me as a "traitor" for 1. Being in contact with you and 2. For letting down the side. 

In fact were I to reveal my identity I feel my life would be made unbearable and the best thing I could do would be to find another diocese, and outside Ireland at that.

I happen to be heterosexual by orientation and have absolutely no problem whatsoever with anyone else's orientation.

I also have managed, by God's grace, to remain celibate since I was ordained a priest. 

Like yourself, I have spoken to that young man (now no longer that young) who was sexually assaulted by a priest in West Belfast in 1983 in the manner he described in yesterday's blog.

I did not know until yesterday that you had helped him write a letter to Cahal Daly at the time of his abuse/assault but I personally reported the matter to Cahal Daly in a face to face meeting I had with him not long after the abuse/assault. Daly appeared to be surprised and shocked and told me to leave the matter with him and tell no one else, which I did. 

I never knew if Daly did anything about the matter, whether he spoke to the priest in question, or whatever. But I do know that the priest's "career" continued uninterrupted until his final illness and subsequent death. 

I also know, from a Lisbreen source, that Bishop Walsh knew of this matter and nothing was ever done about it.  



INCIDENT 2:




It was not the only time that the priest in question was reported to Daly for irregular activities. 

On another occasion, the priest in question by stopped by the RUC in his car trying to attract the attention of a young male escort on a Belfast street. 

The RUC questioned the priest and noted all his details and sent him on his way with a severe warning.

The story made its way up to the office of the Chief Constable of the time, Sir John Hermon who was on friendly terms with Cahal Daly.

Hermon rang Daly and told him what had happened to the priest and the circumstances surrounding him being stopped. 

On this occasion, Daly did call the priest in for an interview and told him he knew about what had happened and what was going on. 

Again, there was no obvious action taken, no suspension, no sending away to a treatment centre etc.

But afterward, the priest used to boast to his other gay clerical friends that Daly had simply asked him to change his car!

On dark winter evenings, behind closed presbytery curtains, these stories, and many others, are still recalled by priests with great humour and hilarious laughter.

Somehow, boring old me has never thought them funny at all.

Things became worse in Paddy Walsh's time with the toleration for years and cover-up of the Jim Donaghy situation amongst others.

And things are even worse again now under NT.

When celebrating Mass I often look down at the faces looking up at me and wonder: "If only they knew what I know".

Years ago most priestly scandals involved women. Then it changed to 50% women and 50% men.

Now it seems 90% men.




Wednesday, 17 January 2018

DEATH OF FR GREGORY CORMICAN - DOWN & CONNOR


Fr Gregory Cormican.

GREGORY CORMICAN, a priest of Down and Connor, died last Sunday at the age of 61. Born in 1956, he had been a priest for 36 years.l took place yesterday, in his native Glenavy in County Antrim.

He died after a long battle with cancer.

I first met him back in February 1983 when he replaced me as a curate in St. Peter's Cathedral in Belfast when I was moved to Kilkeel in County Down.

Gregory was a "safe man" and a "company man" and never rocked any ecclesiastical boats - at least in his public life.

His private life was a different matter - and even though the bishop and clergy were very aware of this "private life" is was, of course, not mentioned in the days since his death or at his funeral.

It is best summed by the saying an old, now deceased priest of mine had: "IF YOU SEE A PIG WITH TWO HEADS SAY NOTHING"!

He was a classmate of a cleric well known to readers of this Blog - The Very Reverend "Dean" Hugh Kennedy.

The Dean Emeritus


"The Dean", as we call him in still among the missing and indeed was noticeable by his absence from yesterday's funeral.

Another classmate - Fr. Con Boyle gave the homily - and as you would expect from Con - it was not a rousing performance in any sense of the word. 

Con "The Orator" Boyle


Another classmate still - Fr. Stephen McBrearty (now there is one to watch) - spoke at the end of the funeral Mass -  in his capacity as Gregory's executor. Again, no Oscars were awarded.


STEPHEN "APOSTLE OF THE POOR" MC BREARTY
The other "executor", believe it or not, is another person well known to this blog - Fr. Brendan Mulhall - the PP of Turf Lodge who commutes to Turf Lodge from his "family" home in Andersontown.


Another interesting connection Dear Reader?

MISSING CLASSMATE:

Gregory had 4 classmates - Con Boyle, Stephen McBrearty, Hugh Kennedy, and Denis McKinley - the PP of Castlewellan in County Down.

However, Denis McKinley is uncontactable - as he is at an unknown international venue. In fact, Denis is the only cleric in Down and Connor with more air miles than Noel himself :-)

ANOTHER SHOW:

Another well-known blog priest turned up at the funeral - CIARAN DALLAT of Maghaberry Prison:


It was an interesting day.


NOEL "EMOTIONAL" TREANOR



Of course, there could have been no D&C show without the presence of the High Priest himself Noel Treanor - who was as emotional as ever!

A longstanding lady friend of mine from Glenavy Parish told me yesterday that there was no love lost between Gregory Cormican, his family and Noel Treanor.

She did not want to go into the reasons behind this coolness - which has left me thinking that Gregory and his family probably experienced Treanor's coldness, aloofness, and distance???

This estrangement seemed to lead to Gregory's body not being brought to the chapel the night before the funeral and the absence of the diocesan clergy preceding the Mass with the Office for the Dead - a longstanding tradition.

Of course, we know that Down and Connor has become basically leaderless under Treanor's episcopacy with the clergy largely disillusioned by the coldness of their bishop.

As Treanor still has a good few years to go in the job this estrangement and low morale will only deepen.

Treanor had little to say at yesterday's funeral and he was basically there as a functionary.

As I say, there was a big elephant in the room yesterday - but I suppose this is not the time to address that elephant.

But it will need to be addressed in the future!




FATHER! YOU CANT PUSH A GRANNY OFF THE BUS!





Holy row: Limerick priest tells singing granny to 'get off the bus'

Maria Flannery


exaggerated'
A LIMERICK pensioner is considering taking legal action against a priest who ordered her off a bus carrying local people who were going hunting the wren.
The grandmother said that she was “disappointed” and felt “very traumatised and threatened by his reaction” on the day of the incident.
The priest, Fr John Mockler, said that he told the woman to leave the bus because she was not one of his ‘chosen’ musicians for the event, which was organised to raise funds for his pilgrimage to Medjugorje with local teenagers.
However, according to local sources, there is bad blood between the woman – who is in her 60s – and the priest, Fr Mockler of Newcastle West, who have not spoken for several years.
And it has also transpired that Fr Mockler also changed the collection point for those travelling on the bus, after he heard the woman intended to travel.
It is understood that during the confrontation on St Stephen’s Day, gardai were called by Fr Mockler in an effort to get the woman to get off the bus. This is despite the fact that the event was advertised in local newspapers as an ‘all welcome’ day out.
The call was subsequently cancelled and gardai did not attend the scene, it is understood.
The bus was organised to transport people going on the Wren in Newcastle West.

When the woman arrived to take part in the hunt, the priest “cleared her off the bus” and a confrontation broke out.
Fr Mockler told the woman that it was his group, that he chose the group, and that he didn’t want her joining on the bus.
The woman, who claims to be a singer and who once released tapes and performed gigs, read the invitation to all in the newspaper and wanted to join in.
She also brought refreshments with her on the day for the group.
The group was due to meet at the Longcourt Hotel car park in Newcastle West, but upon hearing that the woman was planning to come, the priest redirected the group to St Ita’s Hospital in an attempt to lose her.
However, the woman still managed to catch up with the group, and was at the bus when the musicians emerged from the hospital after a round of music.
The confrontation took place in front of a handful of people who were also on the bus at the time.
“It was organised in good faith and it was Christmas after all,” said one Newcastle West person who defended the woman.
When contacted to comment on the incident, Fr John Mockler said that “she was somebody who was there who shouldn’t have been”.
“She wasn’t a musician and I picked the group of musicians that I wanted, and we went in to play for the patients in St Ita’s and when we went out there was somebody in the minibus. Not a musician and shouldn’t have been there. I wanted the seat for a musician that was part of the group.”
He said it was “nothing to do with” any bad blood, but that it was solely because she was not invited and was “not a musician”.
He also claimed that the other members of the group didn’t want to get back on the bus because she was on board.
Asked if a confrontation took place, Fr Mockler said that was “an exaggeration”.
When asked if the event was an ‘all welcome’ event, as advertised in local newspapers, he said: “Yes, for musicians. Not for just anybody who’s not a musician who just wants to come along and cause trouble.”
The dispute between the pair is said to go back to an incident two years ago when, after the woman was in a car accident, she broke the Eucharistic host at Mass to place one half on her neck – in a bid to heal a whiplash injury.
According to locals, Fr Mockler was said to have been very annoyed at the incident.
The tensions between the priest and the woman have meant that she now goes to Mass in another church.
When contacted by the Limerick Leader, the woman said that she was “disappointed” and felt “very traumatised and threatened by his reaction” on the day of the incident.

PAT SAYS:
This is a sad story of a priest banning an elderly parishioner from a parish bus trip.
It seems to me that Father Mockley was way OTT.
Even if the lady in question is a bit "difficult" I think she could have been treated more sensitively.
Older folk deserve extra respect and extra tolerance.
I do not know the priest?
I do not know the priest.
I wonder if he is one of those old fashioned dictator type priests?

FATHER MOCKLER! - YOU CANT PUSH A GRANNY OFF THE BUS!!!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

DIOCESES NOT PUBLISHING ANNUAL ACCOUNTS

MOST IRISH DIOCESES DO NOT PUBLISH ACCOUNTS ON THEIR WEBSITES


More than 60 % of the Catholic dioceses on the island of Ireland presented no financial information on their websites at all.
Patsy McGarry. Irish Times. Sun, Jan 14, 2018.




     
Almost two-thirds of the 26 Catholic dioceses in Ireland do not publish any financial details on their websites, a new survey has found.

The reverse is true in the US, where almost two-thirds of the 177 dioceses carry such details on their websites.




The Irish survey was carried out by We Are Church Ireland, a lay Catholic lobby group, which has called for greater transparency in diocesan finances.

A summary of the financial details of each diocese and other relevant charities in each are published on the Charities Regulatory Authority website.

However, the level of detail made available to parishioners on diocesan websites varies significantly.

The survey of the 26 Catholic dioceses on the island of Ireland found that 62 percent presented no financial information on their websites at all.

Only five Irish dioceses publish audited accounts on their websites: Down & Connor in Northern Ireland, Dublin, Elphin, Limerick, and Ossory.

A further five publish some financial details on their websites: Clogher, Cork and Ross, Ferns, Kildare and Leighlin, and Killala. None of the remaining 16 dioceses publish any financial details on their websites.

Only 58 percent of dioceses identified members of their finance committee on their websites.

The survey was carried out to compare against a recent poll by the US lay liberal Catholic group Voice of the Faithful, which showed that 34 percent of the 177 dioceses there did not include any financial information on their websites.

Commenting on the findings, Colm Holmes of We Are Church Ireland said, “Congratulations to Ossory, who top the table with their audited 2016 financial statements available on their website”.

“But it is disappointing to see Armagh in midtable, though we found a note on their website saying the proper publication of financial statements ... is a priority. Also disappointing is to see a large diocese like Meath at the bottom of the table.”

Pope Francis, he said, “has put a strong emphasis on financial reporting and transparency”.

“Strangely enough, Canon Law does not require financial reporting by dioceses. But with all monies for the church raised by donations from all the people of God over many centuries, surely in the 21st century, our dioceses should be publishing annual financial reports?”

In Ireland, the drive for financial reporting and transparency is being driven by the Charities Act 2009 and the UK Charities Acts 2008 and 2013 for Northern Ireland, which also apply to the dioceses as charities. There are also financial statements in the Companies Office covering many dioceses, parishes, and trusts.

“But in this day and age the website is the shop window for all organizations and that is where this information should be available in each diocese,” Mr. Holmes said.


------------------------------------------


PAT SAYS:


I do not have much faith in the Roman Catholic Church, either nationally or internationally, when it comes to being transparent about their monies and possessions.

When we see "published accounts" we are looking at the work of highly paid accountants - and we all know that highly paid accountants have great skills when it comes to presenting accounts.

It is like the old question - What is 2 + 2?

The mathematician tells you it is 4.

The Philosopher tells you it is a deep question that has to be explored.

Your solicitor and accountant say: "What would you like it to be"?


Take, for instance, the Diocese of Down and Connor in which I am situated.

Bishop Noel Treanor still refuses to make public whether his palace renovation cost £ 1 million or £4 million.



We are also told that Noel Treanor earns about £20,000 a year.

But how can you run a multi-million-pound palace and do all the international traveling he does, almost monthly, on £20,000 per annum?

I have spoken to priests and others who have visited Treanor's new palace, which is called CHATEAU NOEL by the clergy and they tell me it is better than any 5-star hotel they have even been in.

He even built a glass walkway so that he could walk from Chateau Noel to the diocesan offices with getting wet!

THE VATICAN:

We know that when the now disgraced Cardinal Pell took over Vatican finances he discovered hundreds of secret bank accounts with billions of euros in them.

And when the recently retired Cardinal Secretary of State left his job he spent a massive fortune on his new Vatican apartment with Euros 400,000 taken from a Rome baby hospital and with a Euro 50,000 kitchen - provoking Pope Francis to ask: "Is it made of gold"?

THE USA:

In New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan transferred diocesan funds to a cemetery fund to stop victims of child abuse taking the money in lawsuits.

Several US retired archbishops spent millions on their retirement homes. 



I think that we would all be amazed if the Catholic Church in Ireland - dioceses and religious and honestly listed:

1. The total value of all their property and other holdings.

2. The total monies contained in ALL bank and other accounts. 

I must say I take all "published accounts" with a large grain of salt!



Sunday, 14 January 2018

RC IGNORANCE ABOUT DEEP GENDER ISSUES




Transgender issues next battle in culture wars
Letter from US religious leaders comes out calling transgender identity a 'false idea' that is 'deeply troubling'
Jan 13, 2018
by Heidi Schlumpf NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER

In December, while the rest of the country was debating tax reform and net neutrality, four Catholic bishops and 16 other conservative religious leaders issued an "open letter" about transgender issues, firing a shot in what has become the next major culture war issue after same-sex marriage.
Not surprisingly, progressive Catholic groups — including New Ways Ministry, Call to Action and Dignity USA — denounced the document, while traditionalist Catholic websites and media supported it. Lost in the battle were transgender people themselves.
"It's like we're collateral damage in the culture war," said Hilary Howes, a Washington D.C.-area Catholic and founder of TransCatholic, a ministry to transgendered people. "It's painful to have people think of us in this way.
The open letter, titled "Created Male and Female," affirms the "inherent dignity" of all people, but warns that transgenderism is a "false idea" and "deeply troubling," and calls upon the government to support "policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology."
Transgenderism "compels people to either go against reason — that is, to agree with something that is not true — or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation," said the Dec. 15 document.
The bishops and other signers warn that children are harmed when told they can change their sex, "sowing confusion and self-doubt."
"Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of 'first, do no harm,' " the letter said.
It was signed by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, chair of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, chair of the Committee for Religious Liberty; and Bishop Joseph Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, chair of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he also supported the letter, though he was not a signatory.
It was unclear if any transgender people were consulted in the drafting of the document. Repeated requests by NCR for comment from the United States Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops, which released the statement, were declined. 
However, a U.S. bishops' conference press release states that the letter is the result of a meeting, held after the U.S. bishops' fall general assembly in November in Baltimore, during which ecumenical and interfaith partners discussed gender ideology with members of the conference's Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
The press release also mentions previous letters on "religious freedom" and "defense of marriage," with similar groups of ecumenical partners. 
The transgender letter was signed by the Anglican Church in North America, which broke away from the Episcopal Church in 2009 over LGBT issues, and by the more conservative Presbyterian Church in America, North American Lutheran Church, and the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.
It was not signed by those denominations' more liberal counterparts: the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which have taken stances in favor of LGBT rights.
The open letter also follows a February 2017 statement from Chaput and Bishop George Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, praising the Trump administration's repeal of a previous instruction from the U.S Departments of Justice and Education that prohibited discrimination of students based on gender identity, including transgender status. 
"I think this is the new front in the gender culture wars," said Mark Silk, professor of religion in public life at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, noting that both liberal and conservative advocacy organizations may have been surprised at how quickly Americans — including American Catholics — came to largely accept same-sex marriage.
"I don't mean to be overly cynical, but I think both sides thought they were in for a much longer struggle … and then they needed a new issue to keep them raising money," Silk said. "Same-sex marriage is no longer where you can get anybody's attention."
Yet the public policy issues — focused on bathroom accommodations or military service, so far — seem relatively minor, and the number of people affected relatively small, Silk said. "I don't see how it really affects people in terms of institutional behavior," he said. "What's the threat?"
But it is precisely the social and legal advances made by transgender people that have conservative Catholic and other religious leaders concerned, said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for LGBT people.
"I think it's going to become a big issue," DeBernardo said. "In the religious world, and in the Catholic world in particular, gender is so embedded in so many doctrinal statements that any new understanding of gender is very threatening."
He noted critiques of transgender issues at a conference for bishops last year, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the National Catholic Bioethics Center, two organizations with a long track record of anti-LGBT efforts. 
New Ways Ministry now receives more requests for its programs about pastoral care for transgendered people than for ones about gay and lesbian issues, DeBernardo said.
"So many Catholic initiatives around the world are trying to understand transgender issues and people in sensitive and responsive ways," he said, "But [the open letter] just seems so insensitive and irresponsible."
response from Call to Action said the letter "represents an outdated and harmful understanding of gender that is rejected by the majority of faithful U.S. Catholics."
One study has found that a majority of Catholics (56 percent) opposes laws that require transgender people to use bathrooms that align with their sex assigned at birth, while another shows Catholics divided about whether it is possible for someone to be a gender different from their sex at birth.
Dignity USA called the letter "heinous and immensely damaging" in its response and urged the U.S. bishops' conference to remove it from its website.
New Ways Ministry also signed a reaction from the National Religious Leadership Council's LGBTQ Task Force, which urged the religious leaders who signed the document to reach out and connect with transgender people.
"If Catholic leaders wanted to, they could avail themselves of the immense amount of scientific, theological, and spiritual research which supports transgender people in their quest to live as their authentic selves by various forms of gender transition," DeBernardo said. "Even more simply, Catholic leaders should listen to the personal experiences of transgender Catholics."

Howes, who converted to Catholicism after she transitioned, agrees. "They have a very poor understanding of what life is really like for transgender people," she said. "If they would listen to transgender people, it would be a step forward."



PAT SAYS:
Right-wing and conservative Christians and believers have a great knack for showing the rest of us stupid they are when they try and talk about deeply complex scientific issues by glibly quoting - out of context - phrases from 5,000-year-old sources.
Medicine and science are only BEGINNING to come to grips with the very complexities of gender and gender-related issues. 
And then a few RELIGIOUS NUTS come out of the woodwork quoting simplistic throwaway phrases like "Male and female he created them".
Of course, as a Christian, I believe in the fact that God is the Creator of all that is.
But just like I would never be so stupid to try and claim I know the "mind" of the Creator - neither would I be so stupid as to think that I can even begin to grasp the diversity of all that Creation involves - and of how Creation and the Laws of Creation so often faces us with mind-blowing Contradictions and exceptions.
For a start, God is not just exclusively male and female - but a whole lot more besides - AND things that we can never imagine.
So why is it any surprise that Creation defies the male/female model when the Creator itself defies it!
I have worked with a number of people caught in the transgender "dilemma".
I have never sought to judge them - or to make them feel freaks - as this conservative church crowd thinks they are.
When faced with such a human dilemma I find myself struck silent by the vastness of the issue and the only desires I feel are to listen, to care, to love, to offer support etc.
Those of us who are not personally affected by this dilemma are most fortunate.
I can only begin to imagine the pain, the sense of loneliness, the isolation etc that such men and women face.
I totally reject what these US bigots are saying - and if there are sides to be taken I am on the side of the Transgendered.
The Jesus I have come to know is on their side too!