Beliefs Culture Ethics Institutions Politics

San Francisco archbishop blasts gender transitions as threat to faith

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks with a nun after his talk on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 in New York in which he criticized "gender ideology" as a threat to society and the church." Religion News Service photo by David Gibson
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks with a nun after his talk on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 in New York in which he criticized "gender ideology" as a threat to society and the church." Religion News Service photo by David Gibson

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks with a nun Wednesday (June 3) after his talk, in which he criticized “gender ideology” as a threat to society and the church. Religion News Service photo by David Gibson

NEW YORK (RNS) Amid the national buzz over transgender celebrity Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner revealing her new female identity, a leading culture warrior in the Catholic hierarchy on Wednesday (June 3) denounced the spread of “gender ideology” and warned that it threatens the very foundation of the church’s faith.

“The clear biological fact is that a human being is born either male or female,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said at the start of an address in Manhattan at a conference aimed at promoting an older form of the Mass in Latin.

“Yet now we have the idea gaining acceptance that biological sex and one’s personal gender identity can be at variance with each other, with more and more gender identities being invented,” said Cordileone, who is the point man in the battle against gay marriage for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Cordileone said a friend recently pointed out to him that a major university advertised housing “for a grand total of 14 different gender identities.”

“I’m sure even more will be invented as time goes on,” he said, prompting laughter from the audience of about 200.

“Those initials keep getting longer and longer,” he added, referring to debates over whether the LGBT acronym — for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — should include other categories.

Cordileone did not mention Jenner by name, but his comments landed directly in the middle of a national debate that exploded on Monday when the Vanity Fair cover was published depicting Jenner for the first time as a woman — in satin lingerie and an alluring pose — and announcing she would now be known as Caitlyn, not Bruce.

Jenner, now 65, came to fame in the 1970s as a gold medal Olympian and then won a more dubious celebrity in recent years as part of the Kardashian clan of reality television stars.

A supporter greets San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone in San Francisco on May 16. 2015 in the midst of a public campaign of attack against the archbishop. The Archbishop Cordileone Support Day Family Picnic was organized by a group San Francisco Catholics, led by Walk for Life West Coast co-chair Eva Muntean. Photo by Debra Greenblat, Catholic San Francisco, courtesy of Catholic News Service

A supporter greets San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone in San Francisco on May 16, 2015, in the midst of a public campaign of attack against the archbishop. The Archbishop Cordileone Support Day Family Picnic was organized by a group of San Francisco Catholics, led by Walk for Life West Coast co-chair Eva Muntean. Photo by Debra Greenblat, Catholic San Francisco, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Cordileone, who turns 59 on Friday, has become a controversial figure inside and outside the church for his battles against same-sex marriage and his outspoken defense of traditional Catholic teachings on sexuality.

In San Francisco, famous as an incubator of gay culture, he is currently embroiled in an especially fraught dispute with Catholic teachers over a handbook that aims to hold them to account for their views and behavior on sexual morality.

In his talk in New York at the Sacra Liturgia conference, Cordileone made a point of highlighting what he saw as the unacceptable evolution in American views on sexuality.

He said that what Pope Francis has also criticized as “gender ideology” poses not only a threat to society, but also to the faith. That’s because Christianity is based on what Cordileone said is the biological reality of the God-given “complementarity” of the male-female relationship.

“This is because God has used marriage as the primary sacred sign of our relationship with him,” he said, citing an author who described God as “hetero” and male, and Israel as “hetero” and female — hence their attraction to each other.

“It’s all the story of a marriage. God’s marriage covenant with Israel is fulfilled in the blood of Christ on the cross, establishing the new and eternal covenant between him, the bridegroom, and his bride, the church.

“When the culture can no longer apprehend those natural truths,” the archbishop continued, “then the very foundation of our teaching evaporates and nothing we have to offer will make sense.”

Cordileone said the inevitable result “is a reversion to the paganism of old, but with unique, postmodern variations on its themes, such as the practice of child sacrifice, the worship of feminine deities or the cult of priestesses.”

He cited as evidence the recent Gallup survey on liberalizing attitudes among Americans that showed approval of polygamy rising in recent years from 7 percent to 16 percent.

LM/MG END GIBSON

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

63 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • Why don’t Christians just get out of the way of secularists and allow them whatever lunacy, perversions and evil their hearts desire? None of the sickness embraced by these odd and weird individuals and groups can do anything to stain The Church. In fact a far more clear line of demarcation is just what this society is in desperate need of. How many people are actually going to want to be like Mr. Jenner anyway. Maybe when he was a role model athlete but now, what impact can he have on those who choose a better path. None.

    Why not just watch the traveling circus go by and stay away from its fans.

    The Church came out of this kind of depravity and thrived because of the reality of a better life lived in the Body of believers.

    Nothing can ever change that truth. Certainly not a surgeons blade or the gender confused mind of any “person.”

  • Why don’t Christians just get out of the way of secularists and allow them whatever lunacy, perversions and evil their hearts desire? None of the sickness embraced by these odd and weird individuals and groups can do anything to stain The Church. In fact a far more clear line of demarcation is just what this society is in desperate need of. How many people are actually going to want to be like Mr. Jenner anyway. Maybe when he was a role model athlete but now, what impact can he have on those who choose a better path. None.

    Why not just watch the traveling circus go by and stay away from its fans too.

    The Church came out of this kind of depravity and thrived because of the reality of a better life lived in the Body of believers.

    Nothing can ever change that truth. Certainly not a surgeons blade or the gender confused mind of any “person.”

  • You should really be asking the “good” archbishop about this.

    All of those starving children in the world, and he is upset over Caitlyn’s transition. All of those homeless people, and st. Mary’s in san Francisco installed a sprinkler system to drive them away.

  • I think this whole gender identity thing should be recategorized as a mental illnesses. No matter how much outside remodeling is done, the person remains biologically male or female. Those who change most often take on the affectations of a bad stereotype of their new sex…..like Jenner in sexy lingerie.There is just something wrong with their thinking, and now the gay community is covincing even young children that they can be turned into something else. Crazy.

  • Wow, that was said so well. I try to teach this to my children. We are simply traveling through this world, separate from it and yet conjoined with it. Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. That means your whole life, the one He gave you, male or female and the appropriate role that entails. How can this be explained to those with ears who don’t hear and eyes that don’t see. We can simply pray that God have mercy on their souls and make us a light unto their darkness.

  • And that doesn’t even address Cordileone’s likely criminal acts in 2008! Cordileone has a habit of writing letters that get him in trouble. The federal judge who revoked the 2008 California anti-gay H8te Vote had in his possession an email likely written by Cordileone to Mormon leaders in which they both agreed to violate California campaign finance laws to throw the H8te Vote by making secret, illegal cash and in-kind contributions to the H8te Vote. The email serves as proof positive they knew they were breaking the law; the email itself is an act of criminal collusion. Here is documentation about that email:

    latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/01/documents-show-close-links-between-prop-8-campaign-and-mormon-catholic-churches.html#comments

    That document is now in the possession of the United States Supreme Court.

  • “Be Brave” wrote, “Why don’t Christians just get out of the way of secularists”

    You tell us, you’ve defended his other similar misdeeds. Why did Cordileone seek to insult Caitlin Jenner in public? What purpose was there in that but to express his rage and frustration that no one cares what he thinks about other people. Americans are sick and tired of this and other sad little men shrieking through the media that we all “have to” pay attention to their anti-LGBT rants.

  • What you think isn’t relevant, nor is it appropriate for you to be fantasizing about Caitlin Jenner’s privates. Can’t you keep that sort of thing to yourself? However, psychologists identified homophobia as a mental illness and published their results in the Journal of the National Institutes of Health in 1953.

  • The world is not as black and white as you would make it.

    Male or female? More accurately, male, female, and a number of people in between. Google can be your friend. Try googling “intersex”. Five minutes and you will learn of a whole different world of gray.

    Appropriate role that that entails? Completely culturally conditioned. Arab men walk down the street holding hands. Try that in this country, and you can get attacked.

    Heterosexual vs. everyone else? Not really.

  • The good Bishop is not upset about Jenner’s transition. He is worried about his soul and eternal life. Yep. Our souls are eternal…even someone confused like Jenner. As for poor, hungry and homeless. The Catholic Church is the biggest charity on this planet. You do what they do and then start telling them what they need to do, okay.

  • Maybe because we are our brothers keeper…we do have a responsibility to share the Gospel message, even more the good Bishop. We have accountability in this too. If you knew someone was going to hurt themselves..would you not intervene. Well, Jenner has hurt himself.

  • Nonsense. No one is fantasizing Jenners genitals but Jenner, and maybe people like you. And there is no such thing as “homophobia”. That is a made up word by a group of people who want to turn society upside down and don’t care what the effects are. Selfish people to be more precise.

  • You are born male or female. There are exceptions but gender dysphoria is not an exception. They are not born with both, like the exceptions. They have a real medical situation. These people who “feel” like a boy or girl but are a girl or a boy have mental issues. Studies have shown (John Hopkins no longer does sex reassignment) it does not help the person to have the operation. This is not therapy at all. The whole industry of sex change is unregulated too. It’s all about money. Not healing.

  • What if we think about these things in this manner? —

    1. Man’s ways are of the Lord, how can we understand our own ways?…….Proverbs 20:24

    2. All things are allowable, all things are lawful, all things are permissible…..1 Corinthians 6:12…..1 Corinthians 10:23

  • “The clear biological fact is that a human being is born either male or female.”

    Actually, not such a clear biological fact, and the biology can be more subtle than what you see between the legs. According to the Intersex Society of North America:

    “If you ask experts at medical centers how often a child is born so noticeably atypical in terms of genitalia that a specialist in sex differentiation is called in, the number comes out to about 1 in 1500 to 1 in 2000 births. But a lot more people than that are born with subtler forms of sex anatomy variations, some of which won’t show up until later in life.” (This is followed by a detailed list: http://www.isna.org/faq/frequency)

    Much of society prefers that the intersex issue boils down neatly to “mental illness” or just plain “sin”, but in most cases, the state of mind is driven by the biology, not the other way around.

    If god designed the biology, he must have intended to create the intersex issues as well.

  • Because then you couldn’t use the differences to cause fear and outrage among your base, you couldn’t manipulate simpler minds into agreeing with your assessments and positions, and you would lose influence and power. That’s why.

  • 2. “All things are allowable, all things are lawful, all things are permissible…..1 Corinthians 6:12…..1 Corinthians 10:23

    Yep, even slavery. Jesus gave us instructions on how to treat our slaves. Look it up. It’s in there.

  • You suggest simply paying no attention to the growing perversion taking over society? Just as you worry about the quality of the air and water you take in, Christians are concerned about the quality of society and the cultural environment we and our children live in.

  • News flash:

    Catholic bishop defends Catholic teaching on sexuality.

    Also in the news, the head of an LGBT group in San Francisco said he disagreed with Catholic teaching on sexuality, adding, “We just don’t agree.”

    Also in the news, a spokesperson for the diocese responded by saying, “We don’t agree with their disagreement.”

    In other news, the sun rose in the east this morning, after which time a dog bit a mail carrier at 3rd and Main.

  • This from a guy who represents a church full of pedophiles and gays.

    And believes that little wafer is really (not figuratively…really) the body of a long dead religious zealot who promised he would be back while some of his followers were still alive, and has yet to show up nearly 2000 years later.

    How much longer can religion survive? According to a recent Pew Research poll, not much longer in this country as young people are leaving the fairy land of the supernatural in droves.

    Childhood indoctrination is the most egregious sin one can commit. The Bishop may someday have to get a real job. I wonder if there are still openings for carnival barkers?

  • “The clear biological fact is that a human being is born either male or female,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco. Thank God for the Archbishop and others of the same ilk. That’s how the church reforms itself by having ill-informed people like him think they can tell others who they are. The church has a need to be ” born again” as people do. The church is here, not to tell people the truth, but to help them find their own truth.

  • Shush, Janelle. You don’t want to be the skunk at the garden party.

    The web site, no doubt, is racist, sexist, gender-ist, species-ist, classist, capitalist, misogynistic, misanthropic, homophobic, mythophobic, judgmental, hurtful, hateful, harmful, neanderthal, anti-science, pro-big-business, anti-environmental, anti-poor, anti-progress, and…….worst of all…..the cardinal sin of sins…..(gasp!) anti-left.

    Shame on you, Janelle….off to re-education camp you go.

  • Charlie, the message of that “long-dead religious zealot” seems to have covered much of the earth in His absence.

    Not bad for a decedent.

    It’s as though He…..ahem….lives on.

    You even measure time based on His initial visit here…..as in “2015.”

    If you lived on this earth for 20 more centuries, you wouldn’t make the impact that He did and still does.

  • So being a Christian is an excuse from acting like a decent human being and treating others well. Any act against others is excuses if you feign some concern over their “immortal soul”.

    If the Bishop was a confidant of Jenner, you might have less chance of sounding like a nosy obnoxious fool. Hurling insults and demonizing someone is not showing love or concern.

    Your argument is dishonest bullcrap used to justify bad behavior towards others. Instead of looking for God to bail you out and give you ready made excuses, you should see how your behavior really affects others.

  • If transgendered people are a threat to the good bishop’s faith, it speaks badly of the strength his faith.

  • And Psychologists are largely known as having enough problems of their own while instructing people to lay blame upon parents and other people. The idea of taking personal accountability is a foreign language. No wonder so many Psychologists have been married and divorced several times.

  • Well said Angela. We keep going farther and farther from the Word of God. I pray that there is something I would do or say that would show God’s love and the availability of forgiveness of sins to these lost people. Soon, every knee will bow to the true God, no matter what they think now.

  • You mean you are tired of having to acknowledge some people exist.

    Btw the “shoving down our throats” trope is one of the most ridiculous one coming out of the anti-queer crowd. It makes you guys sound like you have an oral fixation. Can you guys come up with a better phrase to overuse?

  • I take it you probably never would have rented “Can’t Stop the Music” anyway. It features the Village People. 🙂

  • I love this line: “the very foundation of our teaching evaporates and nothing we have to offer will make sense.”

    It’s like he’s encouraging others to stop adjusting systems of thought to accommodate observations of reality, as if wishing the world would stay the same is sufficient to make it so.

    One can hear the death-knell of this brand of dogmatic religion in those words.

  • “Start doing what they do”?

    So.. I can have a critiquing opinion after I spread lies, hate, and misery around the planet?

    All I have to do is condone the endemic of sexual molestation of children.. the denial of obvious fact.. and the divisive revulsion of people who think slightly different than myself?

    Just need to convince myself that vicarious redemption isn’t a horrible immoral concept.. and that sacrificing another human being will grant us all magical immunities from the wrath of the one you worship…

    THEN I can make the observation that Cordelione is unaware of actual gender birth statistics.. maybe then I can point out that telling SubSharan Africa that condoms actually give you AIDS, is a pretty vile thing to do.. or then, maybe, I could highlight how the Church’s sick obsession with sex and poverty have been a regressive weight around the neck of society for centuries?

    No thanks.. I’ll stay in 2015.. and just watch as you all become increasingly…

  • I’m all for being clear which side of the line you fall on

    The side of decent people concerned with the well being of their neighbors.. and those of you who have been brainwashed into thinking human sacrifice grants magical powers

    By all means.. keep yourself and your barbaric beliefs on that side of the line and we’ll ALL be happier! (Well.. you won’t.. because we can see in the world around us that the more religious a state, the worse its crime, life expectancy, teenage birth rate, education, and overall quality of life, etc)

    You can keep prayer and faith.. we’ll take medicine and fact

  • “Most” Americans (according to polls) are actually ok with treating other human beings with respect

    I could say.. first you wanted absolute submission at the point of a sword – then you wanted credit for the discoveries we made about the world around us – now you want capitulation again, when really you’re struggling for relevance

    Continue crying about homosexuals, or witches, or spooky gods all you want.. the rest of us will be busy figuring out how to make a better society without you and your antiquated ignorance

  • LOL!

    Reality is a threat to their faith

    Knowledge and the full force of The Enlightenment are freeing young minds from these barbaric mental shackles of tribalism and divisiveness

    They will likely never completely go away.. but, I imagine in a generation.. they’ll be as relevant as those still worshiping Zues and Ra

  • Tell that to the American Psychological Association! They will tell you that their panel vote trumps any study on gay disorders.

  • Michelle, you are talking to an number of brick walls here; good luck. Even if Jesus would appear to them, they’d deny he was there.

  • I beg to differ. Caitlyn Jenner isn’t confused at all; however Bruce Jenner was quite confused about his gender. I’m a conservative transsexual, that with the exception of celebrity status and large amounts of money, went through pretty much the same thing. I found the hate and lack of information that the dear archbishop spewed forth to be quite offensive. If only the Catholic Church would spend a great deal less money on ornamentation and less time on things of which they don’t understand then maybe they would grow in size and trust instead of shrinking into irrelevance.

  • Of course this Huffington Post and the RNS would castigate the Archbishop for his views. I will leave it at that!!

  • The Church is here to profess the eternally unchanging Truth, not to revise it for public consumption. I’m sure the Cardinal is highly intelligent and a learned theologian, so his statements profess moral truth, not ideological prattle.

  • What an interesting choice of words! You say that WE are getting further and further away from God, and that THOSE people are lost souls who, not surprisingly, need your benign, loving, and all knowing guidance. Could it possibly be that you are the lost soul, and not gay and transgender people? Just because you don’t understand the subject, doesn’t mean that we can’t.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that religious people of a certain stripe are always full of opinions about something that they clearly know nothing about. When confronted withTHEIR lack of knowledge, their response is usually two words: “God said.”

    Maybe you should pay some more attention to what the people you despise tell you about their lives, rather than thinking that what you think you understand from a 2000 year old book is the answer to every question in the modern age.

    We are the authorities on OUR lives, not YOU.

  • It’s your opinion, and only your opinion, that Miss Jennifer has hurt herself. He apparently doesn’t seem to think so. Why is it that you think he needs your permission? And why do you think that you are an authority on his life?

    Your attitude is quite reminiscent of that of the slaveholders 150 years ago, who thought that the “poor, innocent, darkies” couldn’t possibly function without the guidance of the benign, white people. This was very much the attitude of rigid click Gibl couldn’t possibly function without the guidance of the benign, white people. This was very much the attitude of Rudyard Kip’ing with his “white man’s burden.”

    Simply put, you are not the authority on our lives, however much you may think that to be true. We are the authority on our lives. Especially in your remark about Jenner, you assume your moral, spiritual, and temporal authority over his life, based upon some stuff you made up about it. Please stop. Jesus had something to say about…

  • Sorry, my iPad autocorrected at the end, and I didn’t auto correct myself. Ms. Jenner. And she, not he, wherever the latter appears.

  • Faith is not what he’s worried about. It’s his power that is threatened. He feels his fear-and-shame-based power over society slipping from his grasp with every variation of humanity that society finally accepts, embraces, and celebrates. If people ignore the Church’s ignorance-driven condemnations of those who are different, it has no power at all.

  • And you are repeating this lie yet again. How many times will you need to be corrected on it before you admit that you are lying, and therefore reviling and slandering.

  • Christians used to want little boys to sing like little girls so they cut their testicles off so their voices wouldn’t mature motivated by the fact that the church didnt want woman in the church physically, let alone singing. Religious folks tend to forget their own “gender-bending” they forced on those who had no choice or were unwilling. At least now, people like Jenner, can make their own choices, as we don’t live in a theocracy, like the “church” has always wanted to do in the USA.

ADVERTISEMENTs