The Church in England and Wales has been forced to defend a tweet it published on Transgender Day of Remembrance last week that said: “all people are loved by God and valued in their inherent God-given dignity”.
In the tweet sent by @catholicEW, the official Twitter account for the Church in England and Wales, the Bishops’ Conference said: “We pray for all people who are ill at ease with their gender, seek to change it, suffer for it and have been persecuted, and also killed.”
They ended the message with the hashtag #TDOR, the official tag for tweets about the Trans Day of Remembrance. The annual observation commemorates trans people who have died as a result of transphobia.
The bishops’ tweet was liked 3.4k times, more times than any other tweet from the bishops that week, but provoked complaints.
Fr Marcus Holden, parish priest of St Bede’s Church in Clapham Park, London, said: “‘Transgender Remembrance Day’ is part of an ‘ideological colonisation’ which Catholics cannot support. I’m surprised to see this here”.
In a response seen by The Tablet the Bishops’ Conference said that the purpose of the tweet was not to promote transgenderism but, rather, to promote prayer. It said the views of the Church on gender ideology were well-known, and pointed out that it had in a previous statement said it was “deeply concerned that this ideology of gender is creating confusion”.
The statement noted that the Church was also committed to the pastoral care of “people who do not accept their biological sex”.
“Through listening to them we seek to understand their experience more deeply and want to accompany them with compassion, emphasising that they are loved by God and valued in their inherent God-given dignity. There is a place of welcome for everyone in the Catholic Church,” the statement concluded.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance website, which hosts an online memorial to trans people who have died from anti-trans violence in the past year, lists 310 victims of lethal transphobic violence in 2018.