A sign illustrates men’s and women’s restrooms. The Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, released a pastoral guidance on gender dysphoria Jan. 16, 2023. (OSV News photo/Wolfgang Rattay, Reuters)
(OSV News) — New guidance and policies on ministering to people experiencing gender dysphoria released Jan. 16 by the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, call for compassion and coherence with the Church’s teaching on gender and identity.
The document, “Gender Identity Guide and Policies,” highlights scriptural and theological underpinnings of the Church’s teaching on gender and sex, while emphasizing pastoral concern for children and adults experiencing an incongruence between their sex and gender. It then lists seven policies establishing how this guidance should be implemented in Catholic parishes and schools within the diocese.
The guide “is intended as a commentary to help foster a proper understanding of policies of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines regarding gender identity, in recognition of the pastoral sensitivities regarding this matter, and the real and profound struggles individuals of good will face,” it states.
An “interior conflict” between biological sex and gender is “not sinful in itself” and reflects the state of human beings due to original sin, the document states, adding that people who live with this tension “should be treated with respect and charity.”
It also states that the Catholic community should accompany its families with members who experience gender dysphoria, but in a way that affirms their biological sex and that they are “unconditionally loved by Jesus Christ and by the Church, and that they are vital members of the Body of Christ who have a home in the family of God.”
The document’s policies are “binding for diocesan parishes, schools, organizations, and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Des Moines.” They include reflecting biological sex in pronoun use, bathroom use, dress code and uniform adherence, athletic and extracurricular participation, single-sex institution enrollment, the use of single-sex buildings, and participation in single-sex programs, such as retreats and camps.
Additionally, the use or distribution of gender reassignment medication, including “puberty blockers” used for that purpose, on church or parish property is not permitted.
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