Catholic hermit comes out as trans on Pentecost Sunday, says the Church 'has to deal with us'

Saints Peter and Paul Church is a Roman Catholic Church in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, directly across from Washington Square.
Saints Peter and Paul Church is a Roman Catholic Church in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, directly across from Washington Square. | Getty Images

A Catholic hermit has come out as transgender male on Pentecost Sunday — the Christian celebration of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church — declaring that the Catholic Church must "deal with" trans-identified people.

Brother Christian Matson, a Catholic diocesan hermit in Kentucky, may be the first openly trans-identified individual in the position in the Catholic Church. The 39-year-old was raised in the Presbyterian Church but converted to Catholicism in 2010, four years after starting to transition genders.

Matson declared the intention to come out in an interview with Religious News Service with the permission of Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington. 

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"You've got to deal with us because God has called us into this church," Matson was quoted as saying. "It's not your church to kick us out of — this is God's church, and God has called us and engrafted us into it."

According to the report, Matson felt a calling to minister to people in the arts after converting to Catholicism in 2010. However, a document completed by the Vatican in 2000 concludes that sex-change surgeries are "superficial" and do not change whether an individual was born male or female. The document answered the question about whether a woman who underwent a sex-change operation could serve as a priest, a role in the Church that can only be served by men. 

After various religious communities and orders rejected Matson, a friend suggested reaching out to Stowe. The bishop is known for attempting to reach out to the LGBT community.

Matson wrote Stowe a letter in 2020 expressing the call to enter religious life as a trans-identified person. Matson eventually took vows as a diocesan hermit in August 2022. 

"Hermits are a rarely used form of religious life … but they can be either male or female," Stowe said of Matson. "Because there's no pursuit of priesthood or engagement in sacramental ministry, and because the hermit is a relatively quiet and secluded type of vocation, I didn't see any harm in letting him live this vocation."

In a phone interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader published Tuesday, Matson cited laws passed in Kentucky and other parts of the country and "policies being published in the Church, that are making life more difficult for transgender people and are based on faulty assumptions about them."

Last year, Kentucky passed a law banning cosmetic sex change surgeries and puberty-blocking drugs for minors with gender dysphoria. In April, the Vatican published "Infinite Dignity," a declaration that said "that human life in all its dimensions, both physical and spiritual, is a gift from God."

"Another prominent aspect of gender theory is that it intends to deny the greatest possible difference that exists between living beings: sexual difference. This foundational difference is not only the greatest imaginable difference but is also the most beautiful and most powerful of them," the document stated. "In the male-female couple, this difference achieves the most marvelous of reciprocities. It thus becomes the source of that miracle that never ceases to surprise us: the arrival of new human beings in the world." 

In November 2023, the Vatican's doctrinal office released a document stating that trans-identified individuals can be baptized and serve as godparents in some circumstances. 

The guidance says that people who have undergone sex-change surgeries or have taken cross-sex hormones can be baptized, provided "there are no situations in which there is a risk of generating public scandal or disorientation among the faithful."

Regarding whether a trans-identified person can serve as the godparent of a baptized child, the guidance stressed it "can be allowed under certain conditions" but noted that serving as a godparent is not a right. The document clarified that "pastoral prudence demands that it should not be allowed if there is a danger of scandal, undue legitimization, or confusion in the educational sphere of the ecclesial community."

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

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