SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois is under fire for a diocesan policy opposing transgender ideology.
The diocese's new gender identity policy took effect last month, requiring parishes, schools and other organizations to "respect the biological sex with which a person is born," and "apply all policies and procedures in relation to that person according to that person's biological sex at birth."
It also states, "Employees and volunteers shall conduct themselves in accord with their biological sex at all times," and makes a similar requirement for students at Catholic schools.
For employees, punishment for violating this policy "may include immediate corrective action, suspension and possible termination of employment."
Now, the policy is facing blowback from pro-LGBT activists.
On Monday, an article from pro-gay "Catholic" group New Ways Ministry (NWM) stated, "Threatening to fire an employee or expel a student who may already be marginalized is in no way consistent with church teaching. Bishop Paprocki's nearly unparalleled crusade against LGBTQ people is shameful."
"His dangerous wielding of authority harms many people not only in his diocese, but in the wider Church," NWM managing editor Robert Shine argued.
Despite the criticism, Bp. Paprocki and the diocese are standing by the new policy.
When local media reached out for comment, the Springfield diocese issued the following statement:
These policies make clear that we are obligated to respect the biology given to us by God, while also supporting and loving those with gender dysphoria. This includes our churches and schools working with those with gender dysphoria to provide them a private bathroom. That is not only the compassionate approach, but it also respects the rights of others and helps keep all those entrusted to our care safe. In addition, these policies ensure fair competition in athletics.
The Catholic Church teaches that our identities as male and female are part of God's design and are gifts from God, and that we must accept and care for our bodies as they were created. Additionally, as Catholics, we are called to compassion and empathy toward anyone who is confused about their identity. Much like it is wrong to encourage someone who suffers from anorexia and who believes he or she is overweight to eat less, encouraging or helping someone transition to another sex because that's what he or she believes despite their biological truth, is morally wrong and endangers that person's physical, psychological and mental future.
The comparison to anorexia has especially prompted outrage from pro-LGBT activists.
In related news, Bp. Paprocki mentioned the LGBT agenda and the definition of marriage in a recent column for the diocesan newspaper in honor of Catholic Schools Week. He noted that public schools in Illinois will soon be required to "teach students about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in their history lessons and must use textbooks that include the roles of LGBT people, effectively holding them up as role models to be emulated."
As Jesus said to the Pharisees when they challenged his teaching on marriage, one can almost hear Jesus asking Gov. Pritzker and the legislators who voted for this bill, "Have you not read [in the Book of Genesis] that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate" (Matthew 19:4-6). Unlike public schools, we teach this truth in our Catholic schools.
NWM called for pro-gay bishops to speak out against Bp. Paprocki, saying, "While bishops are loathe to criticize one another publicly, for the good of the People of God, his episcopal peers must condemn Paprocki's approach to LGBTQ people."