Bishops begin process that could ban gender-affirming care in Catholic hospitals

by | Jun 16, 2023 | Religion

ORLANDO, Florida (RNS) — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted on Friday (June 16) to amend its directives for U.S. Catholic health care organizations, setting in motion a process that could bar Catholic hospitals and other church-affiliated institutions from providing gender-affirming treatment to transgender people.The vote occurred during the USCCB’s spring meeting in Orlando. It passed via voice vote, with no audible dissenters or abstentions.
Technically, the procedural vote doesn’t specifically bar gender-affirming care but allows the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine to begin the process of amending the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services — the “authoritative guidance on certain moral issues” for Catholic health care institutions.

Bishop Daniel Ernesto Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville, who chairs the USCCB’s doctrine committee, made the goal of the vote clear, however: In introducing the resolution, he said the doctrine committee desired to “incorporate” into health care directives arguments from a statement issued in March by the Committee on Doctrine discouraging Catholic health care groups from performing various gender-affirming medical procedures. Such procedures, it suggested, are “injurious” and do not respect the “intrinsic unity of body and soul.”
The statement, known as a doctrinal note, argued that while medical science should be used to “repair a defect in the body,” procedures that fall under the category of gender-affirming care are “not morally justified.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets in Orlando, Florida, Friday, June 16, 2023. RNS photo by Jack Jenkins
During discussion before the vote on Friday, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark urged fellow bishops to consult with transgender people in developing any new guidelines. Other prelates r …

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