By Fr. Michael Accinni Reinhardt
The Catholic Sun
Over the past decade there has been an ever-growing awareness and discussion of gender identity and transgenderism. This has come in the advancing realm of people that claim that they have a disparity between their psychological gender and physical gender. The issue has been driven even further into the public eye, because of the increased availability of gender reassignment surgery, with infamous cases such as Bruce Jenner and Chastity Bono.
JP2 Celebration and Fundraiser
6:30-9:30 p.m., Jan. 19, 2019
St. Paul Parish, 330 W. Coral Gables. Dr., Phoenix
Dr. Peter Kreeft will speak on “Theology of the Body and Gender Identity.” Begins with a social hour.
Cost: “Table of 10” for $200; individual tickets for $25.
The political climate also has become tense with regard to male and female public restrooms, and the rights of those that use them. This has stirred up major discussion on the topic debating gender reassignment as not really possible, because just by changing a person’s physical status, the physiological and chemical status founded in human DNA cannot be changed. Male and female He created them, from the very essence of their being.
Speaking on “Theology of the Body and Gender Identity,” Dr. Peter Kreeft, a convert and renowned Catholic author and apologist, will address these issues at the upcoming JP2 Celebration and Fundraiser, which supports the diocese’s St. John Paul II Resource Center for Theology of the Body and Culture. The annual gathering will be held Jan. 19 at St. Paul Parish. The event begins with a social hour and ends with a Q-and-A session. Kreeft, a professor of philosophy at Boston College and King’s College, shared some of his thoughts with The Catholic Sun in anticipation of his visit.
The Catholic Sun: In an ever-changing world where the boundaries are pushed with regard to gender ideology and sensitivities to transgendered persons, how might one articulate the Church’s role in the maintaining of moral balance and responsibility as we engage this segment of the population?
Dr. Peter Kreeft: The Church today must continue to do what she has done for 2,000 years: preach both by words and acts, the whole Gospel. And with regard to the new issue of transgenderism, the same two principles are still in full force: that God is truth and God is love and therefore there are two absolutes for us — truth and love, “speaking the truth is love.”
Therefore, we must be sensitive and compassionate and listening to the “transgender” people and give them what they most need, which is truth: that God is real and that He is the designer and creator of their sexual identities and happiness. Also, that He designed their bodies and gave free will to their souls so that they could choose to accept or reject His will both for their souls and their bodies. And that body and soul are one, that they are not angels misplaced in bodies or mere animals only imagining they have spiritual souls.
Sun: In light of Theology of the Body and the theological principles of masculine and feminine roles, how might a person defend and preserve what God has authored? “Male and female He made them in His own image and likeness.” What does it mean spiritually for a person who is transgendered to be made in God’s image and likeness when the physical has been altered and they deny how they are created?
Dr. Kreeft: St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body brilliantly and positively illuminates the meaning of sexuality and an intrinsic part of the image of God, as we are taught from the beginning.
Sun: Transgendered ideology states that the physical make-up of a person does not determine the identity of the person: Can you shed some light upon that in relationship to Theology of the Body?
Dr. Kreeft: There is a profound truth and a profound error in the claim that biology is not destiny, that DNA does not determine our identity. It does not determine our soul’s, but it does, in scientific fact, determine the sexual identity of our bodies. If the soul does not feel at home in this body, it is the misfit by soulcraft, i.e. psychiatry, not bodycraft, i.e., mutilation — which [the results of such] abuse are horrific and terribly clear. Even by utilitarian criteria, surgery is a disaster long-range.
Sun: Theology of the Body would conclude gender as a gift and not a right. Would this understanding indicate that inclinations toward gender dysphoria be considered as part of a mental disorder as well?
Dr. Kreeft: There are thousands of mental disorders. Only some of them have medical names. All the moral vices, including arrogance and closed- mindedness, are mental disorders. The universal tendency to prefer our will to God’s is a mental disorder. Sin makes us insane: We prefer misery (the necessary result of “My will be done, not Yours”) to joy (the necessary result of “Your will be done”).
Sun: A common trend today identifies the scope of transgender manipulation as strictly an effect of the mind, a decision or choice, but yet clinically it is also proven that the implications of gender reassignment goes beyond just mental disposition, but includes the physiological and chemical make-up of human DNA as well. In light of these biological truths, how can one articulate this reality through the lens of Theology of the Body?
Dr. Kreeft: Everything is gift because everything comes from one Creator Who is Love and Giver. Sometimes the gift hurts. Whenever there is pain, there is always an objective and material factor and a subjective and mental factor. In the case of a perfectly healthy body which is not accepted by the mind, the pain is in fact caused by the mind and the by the body, but the mind is stupid/clever or clever/stupid enough to blame it on the body. The mind is not mutilated by educating it to accept its body. The attitude toward one’s own body that is behind the demand for gender reassignment surgery is exactly the same as the attitude toward someone else’s body that is behind torture or murder. It is called hate. Neither hate, nor its cause, nor its effects, are ever good.