[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese of North Michigan issued a statement on Dec. 16 in response to instructions on the “pastoral care of persons with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria,” a 15-page document published by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette in July.
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan Roman Catholic diocese instructed its clergy “to deny baptism, confirmation and other sacraments to transgender and nonbinary people unless they have “repented,'” according to a Dec. 8 story published in the Washington Post.
The instructions, dated July 31 and signed by the Roman Catholic bishop of Marquette and the diocese’s vice-chancellor, went unnoticed until the Washington Post broke the story, Steve Pelto, communications missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, told Episcopal News Service.
The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan’s statement signed by Bishop Rayford Ray and the diocesan leadership follows.
Dec. 16, 2021
We, the leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, are saddened by the news that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette has called upon its clergy to withhold baptism and other sacraments from persons who are Trans, Transgender and Non-Binary until they deny their personhood and repent of who they are. This does not reflect the loving, liberating and life-giving God we know.
We believe and proclaim the Good News that all people are created in the image of God and that all people are beloved children of God. Because this is true, we are called to advocate for and protect the rights of and respect the dignity of all persons. We assert that our fellow children of God who identify as Trans, Transgender, and Non-Binary are whole and fully dignified: worthy of love, respect, support, and inclusion. We assert and affirm that no one needs to explain themselves: their bodies, their pronouns, and who they love–or meet any other requirement—to be God’s beloved.
We in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, as a member diocese in The Episcopal Church, are called to do the work of loving, supporting, and advocating for Trans, Transgender and Non-Binary persons. The General Convention of The Episcopal Church, in 2018 called the Church to, “…support legislative, educational, pastoral, liturgical, and broader communal efforts that seek to end the pattern of violence against transgender people in general and transgender women in particular, calling attention especially to the rising violence against transgender women of color and gender non-conforming people…” (General Convention Resolution 2018-C022)
We understand that we as a Christian body have much to learn and must let Trans, Transgender and Non-Binary persons lead the way. In accordance with another General Convention resolution passed in 2018, we strive to “… engage in the complex realities for transgender and non-binary persons in our churches, schools, and camps, and not yield to the temptation to ignore those realities….” and to… “recognize and accept our responsibility to protect the privacy of transgender and non-binary persons…” (General Convention Resolution 2018-C054)
To those who identify in this way: We recognize our world as a dangerous place for you. You are often treated as though you do not deserve respect unless you apologize for and deny who you truly are. So often you suffer verbal and physical abuse, and all too frequently: death. This is unjust, wrong, infuriating, and heartbreaking. We would like this to change for you and are willing to stand with you and to help. We will not always get it right, but we hope to do our best.
We here in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan not only pray for your safety, good health, and happiness. We not only hope you know that you are beloved. We pledge ourselves to the task of making your world a safer place in which to live. We desire that you prosper and thrive just as you are.
To those who identify as LGBTQI or who identify in any way that has caused you to be excluded, please know that the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan embraces you and people of all expression of personhood as part of the family of God.
We welcome you to come and join us. We welcome conversation and an opportunity to learn how we might support and get to know you.
Rayford Ray, Bishop