by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
I am privileged to co-chair with the Rev. Jerry Kirk, a Presbyterian pastor, the Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP). I have a profound compassion for our young people who are exposed to pornography — on average — at age 11.
In some ways, the pornography pandemic is much worse than Covid-19. Unlike the coronavirus, young people are the most vulnerable and least equipped to defend themselves against pornography’s distortion of our human sexuality and the counterfeit love it offers its users.
Of course, young people are not the only victims of pornography. Some estimate that at least 5% of the adult population is addicted to pornography. The capacity for healthy marital relationships is impaired by this moral virus.
Pornography destroys marriages and families. It disrespects, particularly, the dignity of women and fuels sex-trafficking.
Is it any wonder that many young people and adults are confused about their sexuality? One of our great cultural myths is that one must be sexually active to be happy and fulfilled.
The counterevidence to that claim surrounds us. Yet, this cultural lie dominates so much of our music, literature and visual entertainment. Growing up in such a confusing environment, it is not surprising that an increasing percentage of young people struggle with same-sex attraction and gender confusion.
The innate dignity of every human being is a fundamental tenet of Catholic anthropology. We believe that every human being is created in the divine image.
Even more significantly, we hold that every human being is of such worth in the eyes of God that Jesus Christ gave his life on Calvary for each of us. There are no throwaway lives for the Christian.
This is true for every human being, no matter our frailties and flaws. It is true for men and women who experience same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
As Catholics, we oppose all forms of unjust discrimination against any and all groups. It is a sin to participate in ridicule or demean individuals who struggle with sexual confusion.
The U.S. House of Representatives a week ago passed The Equality Act by a narrow margin. The bill now goes to the Senate for debate and vote. President Biden during the campaign promised to seek to pass The Equality Act within his first 100 days.
Despite its lofty name, this is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation ever proposed to Congress. The Equality Act, if enacted as passed by the House of Representatives, would do the following:
• require women athletes to compete with men and boys in sports as well as share locker rooms and shower facilities
• force faith-based charities such as foster care agencies or homeless shelters to violate their religious beliefs or shut down
• jeopardize existing prohibitions on the use of federal taxpayer dollars to provide abortions
• pressure and even mandate the performance of abortion by health care providers
• force health care professionals, against their best medical judgment and/or their religious convictions, to engage in treatments and procedures for gender transition
• exempt the implementations of The Equality Act from having to comply with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, thus allowing it to infringe on religious liberty and conscience rights.
Before the House vote, five chairs of USCCB committees, including myself as the chair for pro-life activities, wrote a letter to Congress stating:
“Every person is made in the image of God and should be treated accordingly, with respect and compassion. This commitment is reflected in the church’s charitable service to all people, without regard to race, religion or any other characteristic. It means we need to honor every person’s right to gainful employment free of unjust discrimination or harassment, and to the basic goods that they need to live and thrive. It also means that people of differing beliefs should be respected.
“The Equality Act represents the imposition by Congress of novel and divisive viewpoints regarding gender on individuals and organizations. This includes dismissing sexual difference and falsely presenting gender as only a social construct. As Pope Francis has reflected, however, biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated. . . . It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality. Tragically, this Act can also be construed to include an abortion mandate, a violation of the precious rights to life and conscience.”
I encourage you to write both to Sen. Jerry Moran and Sen. Roger Marshall encouraging them to oppose vigorously the so-called Equality Act. Gender ideology is the fruit of bad philosophy. The idea that we can deny our own biological identity and choose to become the opposite sex is both false and dangerous. It defies scientific fact and rejects moral truths.
We do not help others by enabling them to persist in denying their biological identity. Those experiencing same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria deserve our compassion and concern. The Equality Act fails to do either, but instead strips conscience rights and religious liberty from millions of Americans.