Diocesan News

Series equips Christians to address gender issues

By S.L. Hansen

LINCOLN (SNR) - Due to an increase in public policy and general awareness about what is commonly known as “transgendering,” the Diocese of Lincoln has scheduled a new lecture series.

“Understanding Gender Identity: Tools for Informed Conversation” will be comprised of three talks that will cover the psychological, political, and anthropological issues arising from this phenomenon.

“Everyone should be concerned about this because it has become a predominant issue in the culture,” stated Father Sean Kilcawley, director of the Family Life Office.

He pointed out that even if somebody doesn’t personally know people who believe they are transgendered, the concept is creeping into homes through the media.

“There are favorite characters in television shows and movies that our young people are watching,” he warned.

Father Kilcawley continued, “As the culture proposes the idea that all forms of sexual expression or identity are valid, it confuses young people as they attempt to understand themselves, God and others.”

It’s important for Catholic people — who are all called to evangelize — to be able to clearly and accurately share Church teaching regarding the human person, authentic love, marriage and family.

“We must be able to present the truth in a beautiful, clear, and inviting way to those we dialogue with,” Father Kilcawley said.

The three talks will be held on consecutive Wednesday nights at the John XXIII Center in Lincoln beginning March 2.  They will also be live-streamed so that distant parishes and individuals who cannot attend in person can listen to the speakers in real time. Each talk will begin at 7 p.m. CT.  To view these talks livestreamed, simply visit the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln YouTube channel (go to YouTube and search “Catholic Diocese of Lincoln”) or go to the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln Facebook page, as links will be posted there.

Father Kilcawley will deliver the first talk March 2. Dr. Cody Hollist, associate professor in the department of Child, Youth and Family Studies and director of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will speak on the psychological aspects March 9. Sheri Rickert, general counsel and policy director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, will cover the legal aspects of this issue March 16.

Father Kilcawley’s topic is, “A Catholic Look at Gender Ideology,” which will focus on the anthropology (or human) aspects of this issue.

“After the recent decision by the NSAA regarding the role of gender in activities participation, many people are confused about how to understand the terms being used by the secular media,” Father Kilcawley said.

Words and phrases such as “transgender,” “pan-gender,” or “gender neutral” are sometimes used interchangeably. Add in concepts such as “sexual orientation” and “sex vs. gender,” and it can become very confusing.

Father Kilcawley will strive to provide clarity from an authentically Catholic perspective. He will lay a foundation built on the Catholic understanding of the human person, who is created in the image of God and for communion with God.

“Then I will break down different terms so that we can try to better understand the language that is being used in the world, in the NSAA policy and in proposals to amend the policy going forward.”

“One of my concerns about the current policy,” Father Kilcawley continued, “is that it seems to encourage gender identification at a time of life where many young people are confused about their bodies.”

“I asked Dr. Hollist to speak as a professor of marriage and family therapy, in order to address normal adolescent development and gender identification from a purely scientific perspective.

Dr. Hollist will present “Gender Identity and Child Development,” while addressing research regarding gender confusion.

“My biggest concern,” Dr. Hollist said, “is that we make decisions based on research rather than political agenda.”

Sheri Rickert’s talk is titled, “The NSAA and Transgender Student Participation: Facts and Issues.” She will be joined by Karen Bowling, outreach and operations director of the Nebraska Family Alliance.

Rickert will start her talk by explaining the NSAA’s current board-adopted policy and the pending “participation according to sex at birth” bylaw proposal. Then, she will delve into public policy and legal considerations, including possible implications for religious liberty.

“The condition of gender dysphoria and the gender ideology — separate but related issues — are not well understood by the general public,” Rickert stated. “Both have serious implications for individuals, the family, the Church and society at large.”

Rickert’s talk is geared for parents, educators, administrators and other school staff in both public and private schools.

“Parents of students in both public and private schools need to understand how the issue can directly impact them and their children in the near future,” she said. “Educators and other school staff will want to learn how the NSAA policy and gender ideology in general could affect their work.”

She added, “This is an important issue about which everyone needs to be informed…Members of the general public need to become informed about these issues and the policies being proposed in response, and make their voices heard in the democratic arena.”

“The Church’s voice must be as loud as the culture’s voice regarding these issues,” Father Kilcawley asserted. “Our people deserve to be told the truth, beauty and goodness of each person created in God’s image.”

“True joy,” Father Kilcawley said, “comes when we fully realize that we have been called to adoption as the sons and daughters of the Father — this is our true identity.”

All are encouraged to attend the talks, either by coming to the Blessed John XXIII Center or by live-streaming via the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln YouTube channel.

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