By Katya Fitzpatrick
Nearly 300 people turned out to Notre Dame of Bethlehem Church Oct. 8 for the “Gender Ideology: What Catholics Need to Know” diocesan-wide workshop, featuring attorney and policy expert Mary Rice Hasson.
Hasson is the Kate O’Beirne Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. She co-founded and directs the Person and Identity Project, which works to “equip people of faith with the knowledge and resources they need to promote a really authentic vision of the person and to counter gender ideology.”
The four-hour event, which was sponsored by the Diocese of Allentown Commission for Women, began with praying the Rosary. Bishop Alfred Schlert welcomed the attendees and offered an opening prayer.
With the crucifix behind her, Hasson started the workshop by laying out the foundation of Christian anthropology, reminding the men and women in attendance that we’re both “body and soul and made in God’s image.” Contrary to gender ideology being promoted in society today, “we’re not just a bunch of parts that can be swapped out depending on how we feel” on any given day. “There’s a purpose to our bodies and our sex.”
Hasson moved through the program by explaining the cultural impact of gender ideology, the pain and suffering the movement is causing people, especially children, and wrapped up by reminding those in attendance that there’s a “better way” than simply fast-tracking people with gender dysphoria to transition with harmful procedures and dangerous drugs.
She made an analogy to the treatment of anorexia, which includes therapy to correct a flawed self image as opposed to confirming it.
“There’s hope. We need to respond in truth and love.”
An expert panel answered questions submitted by the audience. In addition to Hasson, panelists were: Father Richard James, pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament, Bally; Gian Milles, M.S., Integrity Counseling Services; Dr. Anne Marie Manning, Divine Mercy OB/GYN, Carlisle Hospital; and Father Stephan Isaac, assistant pastor of the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.
When asked if the Eucharist is available for transgender people, Father Isaac replied, “We don’t get up in the morning, put on the collar and see who we can oppress today. That’s not why we become priests. We want everyone to receive the Eucharist. It’s our greatest desire that everyone receive the Eucharist! But the same rules apply [to all Catholics]. To receive the Eucharist, a person must be in communion with Christ.”
Father James added, “I would refer them to the Catechism to read what it means to properly disposed to receive Holy Communion and not focus on the one issue, but all of them. Are they chaste? Are they living a life of virtue? Have they gone to confession? Are they ready?”
The next day, Oct. 9, Hasson spoke to diocesan teachers on the same topic during the educators’ workshop.
Is someone you love struggling with gender issues, or would you like to learn more? Visit https://www.allentowndiocese.org/gender-ideology for resources.
A video of the workshop will posted here as well as on the resources page (link above) shortly; please check back.
This article was updated Oct 12, 2023.