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TYLER, Texas (ChurchMilitant.com) - In a recent pastoral letter, a Texas bishop clarified Catholic teaching on gender dysphoria and same-sex attraction while cautioning against the potential blessing of same-sex relationships within the Catholic Church, a topic that will be discussed at the upcoming Synod on Synodality.
On Tuesday, Bp. Joseph Strickland of the diocese of Tyler, Texas, published his latest pastoral letter that stresses fundamental Catholic teachings on human identity and sexuality within the context of modern confusion surrounding gender identity and same-sex attraction.
The bishop began by laying down a foundational truth: "Every human person is created in the image and likeness of God, male or female." He underscored the importance of helping individuals discover their true identities as children of God.
The Texas prelate then expressed concern about the current trend of forsaking this foundational truth. He explained the rejection of this basic truth is often associated with a denial of God's sovereignty and, in some cases, even God's existence.
Bishop Strickland addressed the LGBTQ agenda, stating individuals experiencing same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria do not sin because of their feelings but should avoid acting upon those feelings since they go against God's design.
He quoted Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger referenced the moral judgment against homosexual relations in the story of Sodom and reiterated that homosexual activity is self-indulgent and contradicts the Creator's design for human sexuality.
"The transgender movement is another face of the LGBTQ agenda, and it is also at odds with the Catholic understanding of the human being," Strickland wrote regarding the societal push to normalize gender dysphoria. "This movement seeks to fundamentally alter the way our world views the biological and God-given identity of each person."
"A rapidly increasing number of young people are being caught up in the transgender movement in these times rather than being told the truth of who they are as a beloved child of God," he added.
The bishop explained the transgender movement contradicts the Catholic understanding of human beings as made in the image of God and seeks to alter how society views biological and God-given identities. He emphasized that one's biological identity, given by God, remains unchangeable.
Strickland called for love, clarity and support for those with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, highlighting the importance of embracing their God-given identity.
After clarifying the Church's teachings on same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria, Strickland turned his thoughts to the upcoming Synod on Synodality. He warned that some wish to shift the focus of Catholicism away from eternal salvation to affirming individuals' choices regardless of their alignment with Church teachings.
In particular, the bishop noted discussions on blessing same-sex relationships are slated to take place at the Synod.
"Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated in July 2023, when asked about blessings for homosexual couples: 'If a blessing is given in such a way that it does not cause confusion, it will have to be analyzed and confirmed,'" Strickland wrote.
The possibility of providing such blessings without causing confusion remains unclear. Regardless, Strickland explained such blessings would be illicit. He referenced a statement from the Church's doctrinal office that "God does not and cannot bless sin."
Bishop Strickland clarified that his intention was not to discriminate but to uphold the truth of liturgical rites and sacramentals. He concluded with an invitation to those with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria to experience God's love and mercy within the Catholic Church.
"I would like to say to those with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, Christ loves you and the Catholic Church welcomes you. We are all struggling to grow in holiness," Strickland wrote as he brought his thoughts to a close. "I invite you to come and sit with us, pray with us, worship with us, and experience the overwhelming power of God's love and mercy with us."
He reminded his flock that "Love" is "at the core" of human existence, "and there is no power in Heaven or on Earth that can keep the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from loving us fully and completely."
Bishop Strickland, who has long been outspoken for his orthodoxy, has come under pressure from Rome to quit. Pope Francis may force Bp. Strickland to retire because the prelate has insisted he won't resign.