Council of the Baptized logo
in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
November, 2017


Remember the Archdiocesan alarm that we were "facing the battle of our lives" at the time of the State vote on same-sex marriage?  Now Jason Adkins of the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) says "transgender ideology" threatens "to create a gender-neutral society." That is culture war talk.  It may be that the State is only attempting to provide safety and support for transgender students in public schools. The MCC and others negotiated an exemption for non-public schools.  See October Lay Network Update and the Catholic Spirit two page "news" story on transgender identity:

"Transgender ideology is the latest part of the push to create a gender-neutral society," said Adkins, whose work promoting the public policy initiatives of Minnesota's bishops has underscored the expansion of transgender ideology in state politics. Adkins cites same-sex marriage and so-called "third-wave feminism" as other currents in this movement, which he said seek to "erase all societal distinctions based on sex," replacing them with a concept of sex as something interchangeable and subjectively determined.  ... Transgender ideology rejects the truth that we are a body-soul composite, and that our biological sex is not incidental to who we are as people, but is a gift from God," he said. The Catechism of the Catholic Church underscores this truth, teaching in paragraph 2392 that each individual's personal dignity is derived from his or her created status as a man or wom an.  

December 11 Symposium
Continuing the official instruction on Monday, December 11,  the St. Paul Seminary, the MCC, and the Catechetical Institute  at St. Thomas are sponsoring a day-long symposium entitled"Man, Woman, and the Order of Creation"  on how the Church should respond pastorally to people they serve. The panelists are almost all addressing the transgender issue. 
The panel includes the following speakers whose credentials and organizations we invite you to google:
Michelle Cretella, MD, President of the American College of Pediatricians, not the American Association of Pediatrics.                    
Fr. Paul Check, Seminary Rector in Bridgeport CT, former Director of Courage International
Walter Heyer, regretful transgender person; at 42 he transitioned to female and switched back 8 years later           
Ryan Anderson, the Heritage Foundation to speak on religious liberty
There don't appear to be any panelists who are open to viewing gender transitioning as possibly an ethical good.   We will continue to update you on this symposium as we learn more.
Scroll to the bottom for Dignity Twin Cities suggestions for individual response to the Symposium.

Our preliminary response to the Symposium program announcement:
We are trying not to be culture warriors here.  Culture warriors stage crisis scenarios and storm into battle armed with a panel of one-sided experts.  Culture warrior opponents go toe to toe and to the mat with their own one-sided experts. It can be dueling ideologies.    

The way to sidestep the culture war mode may be to focus on the suffering that gives a platform to the ideologues.  Do you know any people who experience gender dysphoria?  Do you know anyone who is or has been bullied in school?  If so, you know that empathy with concrete suffering tends to ground abstract arguments.  We hope and pray that the Symposium recognizes the dignity of the actual living persons they are talking about.
You are invited to the Council of the Baptized Open Forum on Tuesday, December 12, where we will follow up on the very informative November Open Forum presentation by Dave Edwards on his experience as the father of a transgender child.   Come to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 S. Snelling in St. Paul. 7-8:30 p.m.  We will be talking about the experience of gender dysphoria and ways to be respectful.

We are in the process of learning about gender dysphoria, so take this as elementary understanding.  It is the term for the sense that some people have of being misplaced in the gender they were assigned at birth. There are degrees to that sense of misplacement, mild to severe.  What causes it is partially but not fully understood,   It is, nevertheless, recognized as a real experience of some people by the medical and psychological communities. How people cope with it is worked out personally on a case by case basis.  
Full disclosure: Though some of us are still in learning mode, CCCR/Council of the Baptized was established by members and allies of the GLBTQ and gender nonconforming community, especially Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) and Catholic Rainbow Parents. We advocated for the State to provide equal protection of the law for civil marriage for same-sex couples, and we advocated for collaborating with the State provisions for protecting transgender students from bullying in 2013 and 2014.  Check the website CoB pages for position statements:
We also believe as Catholics that all human beings are wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God, and that all the diversity of human complexity reveals God to us.   We believe our ethic of citizenship and our religious morality are compatible on this issue.  
Communicate with us!
See Luke Timothy Johnson in Commonweal, February 27, 2017. and tell us what you think of Catholic transgender teaching.  

Are the lay ministers in your parish going to this Symposium?  Email us at

More action:
Dignity Twin Cities, an organization representing LGBTQ Catholics and a member of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform/Council of the Baptized, suggests some ways to participate in this opportunity for discussion:  
  • Write to Archbishop Hebda: 
Email at:

U.S. mail to Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda:  

  Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
  777 Forest Street
    Saint Paul, MN 55106-3857 
  • Write to Pope Francis:
  His Holiness, Pope Francis PP.
  00120 Via del Pellegrino
  Citta del Vaticano
  • Register & attend the Symposium wearing a button and/or rainbow sash.  Buttons will be   available at the event from Art Stoeberl and others. 38880185682?aff=eac2
  • Register but stand outside the lecture hall with button and/or rainbow sash and engage   people in conversation.
  • Consider protesting. Volunteer to lead the planning.  Contact Art Stoeberl
  • Sign on for the long haul.  Dignity is looking for people to wear the button and attend various parishes for Mass.  This is an ongoing action.  Contact Art Stoeberl
  • Plan to attend PRIDE 2018 festival in June wearing the button.
We will keep you in the loop for developments on these actions.
Still in joyful hope,
CCCR Board and Council of the Baptized