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Pope Reminds Bishops To Keep Opposing Bodily Autonomy for Women and Trans People

Monday 20 January 2020, by siawi3

Source: https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2020/01/18/pope-reminds-bishops-to-keep-opposing-bodily-autonomy-for-women-and-trans-people/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=BRSS&utm_campaign=Nonreligious&utm_content=361

Pope Reminds Bishops To Keep Opposing Bodily Autonomy for Women and Trans People

By Val Wilde

January 18, 2020

Earlier in the week, Pope Francis approached the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities to encourage them with a reminder that, even though he has spoken publicly about issues like poverty and refugees’ rights, he still agrees that abortion is and should be “a preeminent priority” for the Church.

The Committee’s chair, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, passed information about his chat with the pontiff to Catholic News Services, reminding the world that, at the very top of the organizational structure, priorities still haven’t changed:

He said, ‘This is not first a religious issue, it’s a human rights issue’, which is so true… I think sometimes as he elevates [issues of immigration and poverty], people mistakenly think, ‘Well, that means the abortion issue will become less important.’

We can’t have that, not for a second — especially not now, as the March for Life in Washington, D.C., approaches within the week. Heaven forbid that somebody vulnerable to becoming pregnant might fall into a sense of bodily autonomy!

According to Missouri’s Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, Pope Francis elevated the abortion argument as the fundamental core of his take on social justice:

Without life, what other rights are there? So you have to begin with that. It’s not the only issue — I don’t think anybody has ever said that. But when you’re looking at the core beliefs and the more essential rights, the right to life of the unborn is very important. [Pope Francis] put it in a very beautiful way: Do we always want to simply eliminate those who are inconvenient? And, unfortunately, that’s part of our culture in the United States — the practice, the habit if you will, of just eliminating the uncomfortable, the unwanted, as the solution.

That’s a point that might be worth considering if the “pro-life” crowd didn’t immediately use it to value potential future lives over those already living in the world.

Francis remains masterful in downplaying the way he devalues the pregnant person in the abortion equation; he knows how to speak the language of social justice. In his January 1st homily he preached on the importance of valuing and upholding the dignity of women, who constitute the majority of those affected by restricted abortion access.

But his homily referenced the evil of “coerced abortions” with apparently little consideration of the problem of coerced pregnancy. He seems far less bothered by coercion if it’s being used to force people to do what he wants of them.

The sermon also emphasized the idea that men and women are innately suited for different sorts of work, with little overlap in between the two disparate gender categories, which are expressly and irrevocably tied to genital categorization at birth.

Speaking of gender categories, that was another topic Francis wanted to discuss during his conversation with the Committee. According to St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, the pope himself brought up the subject:

At the same time [Francis] said there’s another significant issue and that would be ‘transgender’ — where we are trying to make all human beings the same, it makes no difference, you can be whoever you want to be.

Generally speaking, trans people want to be allowed to express their gender outside of strict binary norms connected to genitals, and they want to avoid being punished by society for doing so. That is literally the opposite of “trying to make all human beings the same” — it supports human diversity.

But as far as Francis is concerned, this is a “significant issue in our day” because it flies in the face of Catholic doctrine on gender. Catholic News Services reported on the pope’s advice to bishops concerning “the transgender debate”:

Archbishop Carlson said the pope touched on the way proponents believe people are “all one and that there’s no difference, which would fly in the face of what John Paul II talked about on complementarity and it would fly in the face of the dignity of the woman and the dignity of the man, that we could just change into whatever we wanted.”

In other words, the advice is to repeat the party line and avoid getting too familiar with what trans people are actually saying about their experience.

It almost doesn’t seem like genuine news — same old Catholic Church, nothing to see here.

But as long as people keep mistaking Pope Francis for an actually progressive pope interested in improving the position of women and LGBTQ people in Catholicism and everyday life, it’s important to keep in mind what he actually says he believes, and what he tells other church leaders to believe as well.

°°°

Source: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/01/16/pope-francis-speaks-us-bishops-pro-life-and-transgender-issues

Pope Francis speaks with U.S. bishops on pro-life and transgender issues

Catholic News Service

January 16, 2020

Photo: Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of Saint Louis, center, offers the sign of peace to Bishop William M. Joensen Des Moines, Iowa, as U.S. bishops from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska concelebrate Mass in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 16, 2020. The bishops were making their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses to the pope and Vatican officials. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Protecting human life is the “preeminent” social and political issue, Pope Francis said, and he asked the head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities to convey his support to the pro-life community.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the bishops’ committee, told Catholic News Service Jan. 16 that the pope agreed with the U.S. bishops “identifying the protection of the unborn as a preeminent priority.”

“His response to that was, ’Of course, it is. It’s the most fundamental right,’” Archbishop Naumann recalled the pope saying. “He said, ’This is not first a religious issue; it’s a human rights issue,’ which is so true.”

Archbishop Naumann was one of 15 bishops from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska making their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican in mid-January to report on the status of their dioceses. He and other bishops spoke to Catholic News Service Jan. 16 after meeting with the pope for more than two hours.

Archbishop Naumann said he told the pope that since the Roe v. Wade court decision legalized abortion, an estimated 61 million abortions have taken place in the United States.

“I think the pope was truly kind of stunned by that number,” Archbishop Naumann said. “Sadly, our abortion policies are one of the most liberal in the world. The fact is that it really is literally for all nine months of pregnancy. Most other nations don’t permit (abortions) at least at a certain point in the pregnancy.”

Archbishop Naumann said that while Pope Francis has “elevated issues like the care of refugees and migrants,” he also understands that the situation in the United States is different compared to other countries.

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“I think sometimes as he elevates those things, people mistakenly think, ’Well, that means that the abortion issue will become less important,’” he said.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis told CNS it was “beautiful” when the pope explained why life was the number one, most important issue, “because if you’re not alive you can’t do anything else.”

Archbishop Carlson said they also talked about the importance of supporting pregnant women and making sure they have the resources they need to support that life.

While Pope Francis “certainly talked about abortion as a preeminent issue,” Archbishop Carlson said, “at the same time he said there’s another significant issue and that would be ’transgender’ — where we are trying to make all human beings the same, it makes no difference, you can be whoever you want to be.”

The pope, he said, brought the issue up as an example of “another significant issue in our day.”

Asked whether the pope then gave the bishops any advice on how to handle the transgender debate, Archbishop Carlson said the pope touched on the way proponents believe people are “all one and that there’s no difference, which would fly in the face of what (St.) John Paul II talked about on complementarity and it would fly in the face of the dignity of the woman and the dignity of the man, that we could just change into whatever we wanted.”

Of course, he said, a pope or a bishop or any religious leader must focus on a variety of issues and concerns, but “there are some people who are one-issue people and so they’re never satisfied if you don’t focus totally on that.”

The Catholic Church’s positions are not partisan political positions, he said, since both Democrats and Republicans may not agree with its position on different issues.

“But I am not a Republican and I’m not a Democrat,” Archbishop Carlson said. “My job is to be a teacher of the faith and then to walk the talk.”

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, said that on the issue of abortion, Pope Francis “simply reiterated what he’s already said in many different ways,” which is that “without life, what other rights are there? So, you have to begin with that. It’s not the only issue — I don’t think anybody has ever said that. But when you’re looking at the core beliefs and the more essential rights, the right to life of the unborn is very important.”

The pope, he said, “put it in a very beautiful way: Do we always want to simply eliminate those who are inconvenient? And, unfortunately, that’s part of our culture in the United States — the practice, the habit, if you will, of just eliminating the uncomfortable, the unwanted, as the solution. And we’re called to be better than that. We as a country are better than that.”

When the U.S. bishops say, “the right to life is the ’preeminent issue’” in Catholics’ political concerns, “that word is carefully chosen,” Bishop McKnight said. “Because we want to avoid the perspective or the understanding that it’s the only issue — because it is not.”

Catholic voters, he said, need to be aware of a more general tendency or temptation “to get rid of unwanted people,” whether they are the unborn or the aged, immigrants or the poor. “There is a certain consistency that is required of us as Catholics.”

Bishop McKnight said that during the meeting, he thanked Pope Francis for expanding the section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that investigates clerical sexual abuse.

It was clear during the discussion how much the clerical sexual abuse crisis “pains the Holy Father,” he said. “He reiterated that this must be dealt with, it’s a crime, it can’t just be swept under the rug or dealt with only in the confessional — no, it’s a crime.”

The bishop said the question of the Vatican’s promised report on the case and career of Theodore E. McCarrick, the former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, was brought up by one of the bishops.

“I must respect the confidential nature of our conversation today,” Bishop McKnight said. “I can just say I am very confident the pope is doing everything he can in order to rectify the problem and to help the entire church learn from the mistake of McCarrick’s promotion in the church. The Holy Father sees that, he recognizes that McCarrick’s promotion as archbishop of Washington should never have happened.”

Contributing to this story were Junno Arocho Esteves, Carol Glatz and Cindy Wooden.