Pope Francis' long-awaited apostolic exhortation"Amoris Laetitia," or "The Joy of Love"was just released.
The good news is that he urges church leaders to be pastors rather than church bureaucrats. The request wasn't surprising because Pope Francis immediately taking the reins of the Catholic Church displayed a pastoral countenance to his papacy.
While his recent tome might bring a sigh of relief to some Catholics, like divorced parishioners, for the LGBTQ community, however, Francis's message and tone to us are in lockstep with church doctrineand that message is anything but pastoral.
On the issue of same-sex marriage Francis wrote this scathing statement: "There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family."
And being in lockstep with the American College of Pediatricians in their denouncement of transgenderism, Francis wrote the following in advising transgender teens to stop being "self-centered" and "self- absorbed":
"The young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created, for thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation.
"An appreciation of our body as male or female is also necessary for our own self-awareness in an encounter with others different from ourselves. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment."
But this isn't the pontiff's first example of transphobic vitriol.
In the pontiff's 2015 tome, Pope Francis: This Economy Kills, Francis compares transgender people to nuclear weapons. His reason is that this unlikely pair destroy and desecrate God's holy and ordained order of creation.
In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Francis spewed the following transphobic remarks:
"Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings.
"Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.
"With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator. The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.
"God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth. The design of the Creator is written in nature."
In 2000, the Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also denounced the existence of transgender people.
"The key point is that the transsexual surgical operation is so superficial and external that it does not change the personality," it stated. "If the person was a male, he remains male. If she was female, she remains female."
Francis' clear denunciation of our present-day gender theories and understanding of the fluidity of human sexuality not only perpetuates spiritual harm and alienation to our trans community, but it also unwittingly invites physical harm to our trans communitydone in the name of God with righteous wrath and indignation.
For example, I wish Leelah Alcorn were alive today. Rather, Alcorn's memory will haunt us as a society until there's change. Her 2014 suicide note sparked a movement to end conversion therapy ( also known as "reparative therapy" ).
Her suicide note opened, "If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue. …To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy's body, and I've felt that way ever since I was 4. ... When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion, I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn't make mistakes, that I am wrong."
In wanting to advance the civil rights cause of transgender people, Alcorn ( whose birth name was Joshua Ryan Alcorn ) was a 17-year-old trans female who left the following instructions:
"I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups. ... Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ;that's f***ed up; and fix it. Fix society. Please. Goodbye."
When we miss the essential point that human life is varied, precious and of equal worth, we ignore the unique gifts that each life brings to each other and to the world.
That's what Leelah Alcorn was telling us. I had hoped Pope Francis would, too.