Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Have you ever had a comment rejected? I did today - at First Things.

Elizabeth Scalia posted a good story titled, "Is There Room For Sarah?"

Reflecting upon the 'new openness' of Pope Francis, and Cardinal Dolan's accolade, “He’s a great relief to all of us.”  Elizabeth tells the touching story of an online friend she maintained contact with, who happened to be a transgender -  a post-operative, transgendered woman, named Sarah.

Sarah wasn't Catholic, primarily because she was convinced the Church would not accept her.  It's a beautiful, poignant story of faith.  Take a moment to read it here.

Elizabeth searched for an answer and her post is an extension of that search...

Must Sarah confess as a sin the surgery through which an identity had been formed that put a lifetime of suicidal thoughts to rest and brought a measure of peace? Must Sarah (whose baptismal name I never knew) do what was possible, within constraints of health and finances, to henceforth present as a man in order to come to church? - Elizabeth Scalia

Personally, I doubt the issue is as complicated as it may sound.  I suspect that Sarah could be welcomed into the Church just as she was - quietly, discreetly perhaps - or without any provision of anonymity.  Especially since she was post-operative.  I'm not sure why that would be a problem - after all gender identity dysphoria remains classified as a disorder.  Certainly any person with a disorder can become Catholic.

In my comment on First Things I noted that while he was Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, Cardinal Burke permitted a transgendered woman to begin a religious community, or pious association of the faithful.  As Bishop, Burke said he did so in consultation with the Holy See.  A concerned lay woman, went over the Bishop's head and complained to the Vatican.  As a result, the community was disbanded.

In a letter, Bishop Burke responded to the complaint, writing:
"With regard to Sister Julie Green, F.S.J., the recognition of the association of the faithful which she and Sister Anne LeBlanc founded was granted only after consultation with the Holy See," he writes. "These are matters which are confidential and do not admit of any further comment.... I can assure you that Sister Julie Green in no way espouses a sex change operation as right or good. In fact, she holds it to be seriously disordered. Therefore, I caution you very much about the rash judgments which you made in your letter to the Apostolic Nuncio." - Source

My comment was meant to shed some light on the issue of transgender persons coming into the Church and one instance of pastoral accommodation.  Although the woman could not continue as a woman religious, she was obviously admitted-accepted in the Church, and I believe she remains a faithful Catholic.  First Things editor Joe Carter rejected the comment.  Pity.

Art: Origen.  He castrated himself.



  1. I read the article and the comments. I do not understand why yours was rejected based on what your comments were. They were reasonable. Odd...

    Sarah's story is a sad one and yet, I take literally what the angel Gabriel said to our Lady,"for nothing is impossible with God."

    I still believe that for those outside the Church, there is still hope. I still believe that in our final moments, before death, if we cry out to the Lord Jesus, with a sincere heart and contrite heart, he will consider us and will be merciful.

    May Sarah rest in peace.

  2. Yaya - I agree with you - nothing is impossible with God.


    1. Sure thing...but while I believe that, I also believe we cannot ever "bank" on the mercy of God. I have been guilty of that and always need to repent...I am learning though thanks to God's holy mercy. ^^

  3. Ouch. I remember a while back when Elena Maria Vidal complained on your blog that Rorate Caeli has often rejected her comments. I thought, "Hmmm...they've never rejected any of my comments...Uh oh, I must be a thorough-going reactionary!" BTW, you know your a proper reactionary when you report Cardinal Burke to the Vatican for laxity.
    Burke's admonition at the end is excellent, and my heart goes out to Sister Julie.

  4. Burke is very compassionate. His response was correct. He is a faithful son of the Church.

  5. His response to the whistleblower.

  6. Oh - and having a comment rejected is no big deal - it formed the basis for this post and something I wanted to say anyway.

    I comment and rarely ever check back to see if it was accepted or responded to, and I never check the box to get replies - for some reason I get updates from disgus and obviously from First Things - I never commented there before.

  7. I think she's Pentecostal now. Please pray for her, I'm told her health is declining.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. @Yaya, I was talking about Julie. She's bitter about Burke.

    1. Ah...I am so sorry! I will delete my post then since it will just confuse others. Thank you so much for correcting me.

      About Cardinal Burke, I like him lots. he is a very holy man and like Terry said, a faithful son of the Church. May Papa Francis keep him close as one of his faithful collaborators in defending and protecting Christ's Church.

  10. One wonders what exactly he is a "relief" from.

    Pity that Cardinal Dolan, with secular media attention and the opportunity to address the particular call of the homosexual Catholic, did not echo Benedict's remarks:

    "What, then, are homosexual persons to do who seek to follow the Lord? Fundamentally, they are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross.”

  11. "Must Sarah (whose baptismal name I never knew) do what was possible, within constraints of health and finances, to henceforth present as a man in order to come to church?"

    If this quote was in the original article, it has been removed. I read the whole article and could not figure out if Sarah was born a man or a woman. It seems that any language that would make this clear to us has been removed. Why the obfuscation? If Sarah was born a man, he continues to be a man. If we are Catholics, why would we cloud the truth? I am reminded of a quote from Pope John Paul:

    “Every human being is by nature a sexual being, and belongs from birth to one of the two sexes. This fact is not contradicted by the phenomenon of so-called hermaphroditism–any more than any other sickness or deformity militates against the fact that there is such a thing as human nature and that every human being, even the deformed or sick human being, has the same nature and is a human being precisely because of it. In the same way every human being is a sexual being, and membership of one of the two sexes means that a person’s whole existence has a particular orientation which shows itself in his or her actual internal development.”
    –Pope John Paul II, “Love & Responsibility”, pg. 47

  12. Okay, I'm confused. Was this "Sister Julie" born a man or a woman? If a man, then Burke was very wrong in approving "her" community of sisters. If a woman, the lay complainer was in the wrong.

  13. "Sarah" is not now nor will he ever be a she. I think that is the crux of the issue. He cannot be a woman religious. However, as there are mixed communities, I don't see how this would prevent him from being part of a religious community as long as he embraces the church teaching.

  14. Anonymous9:51 AM

    I have to admit, I am confused, too, and it honestly is not because I am being judgmental. Sr. Julie is a transgendered woman. I'm sorry, but do you mean Sr. Julie is a man who dresses as a woman, or is Sr. Julie a man who has had a sex change operation? Really, if Sr. Julie has XY sex chromosomes, Sr. Julie is a man. Truly, I am not trying to judge this person, I am trying to clarify. I read Elizabeth Scalia's article about Sarah and cried when I read it. I believe in showing compassion to people who suffer from gender confusion. But... I also think we have to be careful. From what I have been reading (and I have been reading a lot since my son "came out" as gay this summer), these gender identity issues arise out of suffering, a suffering that should out of charity be addressed as early in the person's life as possible. (Ask me what I think of the Catholic Governors Christie and Brown.) This is a hard issue, because if the gender identity issues are not addressed at a young age, the gender disconnect can become permanent. No matter what, a person in that situation must, must, must be treated with compassion, but at the same time, the issue overall has to be treated, as I said, very carefully.

    I would also have to ask, if a man who has a sex change operation can be a religious sister (and if the Church says so, then the Church says so), can a woman who has a sex change operation become a priest?

  15. Anonymous9:58 AM

    Hi Terry - sending this through the comments section since comments are moderated. It is not meant to be a comment on the article but I could not find a way on the page to get in touch with you. "If you would like to get in touch with me" links to a youtube video, which may be your way of saying, "don't get in touch with me". Sorry to persist if that is the case! :) I wanted you to know that I commented on the article not realizing how old it was, since it was linked yesterday or today by Mark Shea. Also, it seems to have come through as anonymous, but I did use my name when signing in through AIM. My name is Sharon. If you would like to comment to me on this in a private message, I only use AIM to sign in to blogs that require it. I rarely check my AIM mail. I normally use Sharonand8@Reagan.com. Thanks for your blog and for the opportunity to think these matters through with charity.

  16. Sharon - my email is tjdotnelsonathotmaildotcom

    I removed it from my sidebar because I was getting crazy emails from crazy people and pornographers.

    To answer your question, the person I refer to was born a man. I have no idea the state of the person's mental health or any sort of diagnosis today. I can't recall the biological condition of the person Scalia referred to. It's an old post and I can't imagine why it was resurrected today.

    I believe Christ mentioned eunuchs in the Gospel - 'some have been made so by men' - but I doubt he intended that they would be excluded from reception into the Church. Today, if they are public persons, such as Chaz Bono, perhaps they would have to make some sort of public statement, otherwise I trust one might work things out privately with their priest.

  17. I feel sorry for Sr (?) Julie. This sad individual should've been given counseling to help him understand that he was genetically still a man, in spite of his surgery and hormone therapy. Instead, he was allowed to found a religious order of sisters. For Cdl. Burke to push for this order and to criticize a concerned laywomen who was upset about this thing, raises questions in my mind about his understanding of human sexuality. To me, he was defending a sodomite and his bad decision.

    BTW, I 'd have no problems accepting this man as a Catholic. I just don't think folks with sexual disorders should be allowed to enter religious life. The Vatican ruled in the 60's that SSA disqualified one from any membership in any clerical, brotherhood or sisterhood orders. Membership in such orders require a huge amount of discipline, and I think it's just commonsense to realize a sexually disordered person doesn't have it.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.