Bishops to vote on directive banning sex-change surgeries, puberty blockers in Catholic hospitals

Catholic Bishops meet at the start of an afternoon session during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Annual Spring Assembly in Atlanta, Georgia, June 13, 2012.
Catholic Bishops meet at the start of an afternoon session during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Annual Spring Assembly in Atlanta, Georgia, June 13, 2012. | Reuters/Tami Chappell

During their spring assembly this week, Catholic bishops in the United States will vote on whether to amend official healthcare directives to prohibit Catholic facilities from offering services that affirm trans-identified individuals' perceptions about their sex.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is gathering this week for the 2023 Spring Plenary Assembly, which began Wednesday in Orlando, Florida. The public sessions will take place on Thursday and Friday, beginning with opening remarks from multiple Catholic figures, including Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States. 

One of the items on the agenda is the bishops' vote on whether to move forward with revising a portion of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, which provide "authoritative guidance on certain moral issues that face Catholic health care today." 

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The revision could update the directive to align with a doctrinal note released by the USCCB's Committee on Doctrine in March. The note, titled "Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body," stated that modern technology has led to the creation of "interventions that are injurious to the true flourishing of the human person." 

A copy of the ballot item shared by the National Catholic Reporter Monday states that the committee does not plan to make extensive changes to the directives but "is prepared to make those changes necessary for providing clear and useful guidance to Catholic health care services."

The committee's "immediate concern" is Part III of the directives addressing the relationship between Catholic medical professionals and patients, NCR reported. The committee "does not exclude the possibility of proposing minor revisions in other parts" of the directives.

The bishops' upcoming vote comes as a report released by the Lepanto Institute Sunday alleges that hospitals within the largest Catholic healthcare system in the U.S. are performing gender-change surgeries and puberty interventions for minors. 

As The Christian Post reported, the institute alleged that CommonSpirit Health is "performing transgender surgeries, providing hormone-based transgender therapies, providing puberty blockers to children under the auspices of so-called 'gender-affirming care.'" The health system has over 1,000 care sites and 140 hospitals in 21 states.

In the report's executive summary, the authors accused CommonSpirit of acting against Catholic moral teachings "in direct defiance of its Catholic identity."

The Lepanto Institute listed multiple Catholic hospitals and medical centers it had identified as providing "transgender healthcare services," such as referrals for hormone intervention and puberty blockers, in addition to "performing sterilizations."

While some of the facilities listed in the report are not Catholic, their ties to CommonSpirit mean that they still fall under the sponsorship of the Catholic Health Care Federation, which has ties to the Vatican.

One of the 13 facilities that received 100 points from the Human Rights Campaign's "Healthcare Equality Index" is the Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. The high score means these places cover hormone replacement therapies, puberty blockers for minors and trans surgeries for employees.

The healthcare company Dignity Health, which oversees Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, joined Catholic Health Initiatives in 2019 to create CommonSpirit. 

The San Francisco-based hospital operates a facility called the Gender Institute that offers what it refers to as "gender-affirming care." The facility performs breast augmentations, hysterectomies, as well as vaginoplasties and phallus reconstructions for trans-identifying individuals. 

"It should be noted that CommonSpirit's tax form 990s for 2020 and 2019 both indicate that CommonSpirit Health provided funds totaling $2,128,662 to the Saint Francis Memorial Hospital over the course of those two years," the report explains.

"What this means is that Catholic funds are going directly to the very hospital performing these ghastly procedures. Bear in mind that all of this is being done through CommonSpirit's 2019 merge partner, Dignity Health. What's worse is that Dignity Health is doing this in the name of the Catholic Church."

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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