A list of policy suggestions from the Archdiocese of Denver in Colorado, obtained by The Denver Post, is drawing criticism for its approach to LGBT+ students, parents and staff at local Catholic schools.
The document, titled “Guidance for Issues Concerning the Human Person and Sexual Identity,” instructs schools to not enroll students who identify as transgender and have begun transitioning, limit school involvement of parents in a same-sex relationship and not describe their child as having two mothers or two fathers, not allow students to attend school dances with a same-sex partner and to fire staff members who identify as transgender, among other similar policies. It was initially shared with administrators in 2019, according to the Archdiocese.
The guidance asserts that “the spread of gender ideology presents a danger to the faith of Christians.”
Bishop Kae Madden, however, begs to differ.
“Let’s come together around people who are suffering, in whatever way that is, and love them into wholeness,” said Madden, who serves as the bishop of the Rocky Mountain region of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion.
The Ecumenical Catholic Communion (ECC) practices many aspects of the Roman Catholic tradition but allows women to hold leadership roles and is affirming of LGBTQ parishioners.
“It means more inclusive Catholicism,” Madden said. “We don’t have any restrictions about who may receive Communion. All are welcome. Not just some flowery statement, but truly all are welcome.”
Madden was saddened to read the guidance from the archdiocese aimed at LGBTQ students and families at Catholic schools, she said. As a lifelong Catholic, she views it as a repudiation of the values she holds.
“To not be received and welcomed in the church, that’s not the Jesus that I know, that I love,” Madden said. “He addressed fidelity and love, and reached out to all the people who are on the margins and brought them in. He told people not to be rigid, not to judge.”
The archdiocese’s guidance stipulates that “a Catholic School cannot affirm a student’s identity as transgender,” adding that enrollment of a student who has transitioned “would not be appropriate.” It also says that enrollment of a child raised by a same-sex couple creates “difficult issues,” and that if a student is enrolled, the parents could not be identified as two mothers or two fathers and their involvement in the school would be “limited.”
The document does mandate that LGBTQ students and families be treated with “charity,” and that bullying towards the students should not be tolerated.
"We don't expect everyone to ascribe to a Catholic worldview, but we strongly reject attempts to paint our position as bigoted or unloving," a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Denver said in a statement. "It is precisely because of our love and reverence for the nature of the human person that we cannot stay quiet on this matter and must address what Pope Francis has said is the 'ideological colonization' taking place in our world today."
Madden, however, said she wants to see a much broader sense of love and community from her religion.
“Inclusivity is important, and we are all beloved of God,” she said. “Jesus never, ever judged and ostracized anybody. So, let’s keep the doors open. Let’s keep welcoming. Let’s keep loving.”
This story was originally published by KMGH in Denver, Colorado.