The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have issued a pastoral reflection on gender, highlighting the teaching of the Church but stressing that accompanying those struggling with gender dysphoria is “a complex but essential pastoral task.”

The document, titled Intricately woven by the Lord: A pastoral reflection on gender by the bishops of England and Wales, emphasises that all are welcome in the Church, but says that the sexual identity of an individual is not a purely “cultural or social construction.”

The document refutes the idea, proposed by Gender Identity Theory, that everyone has an ‘inner’ gender identity, which sometimes fails to match the biological sex of the individual. It upholds the value of the body and importance of sexual differentiation.

The bishops assert that we are all created in the image of God, with a dignity given to us by our creator and stresses that leading people to the fullness of life in Christ is a journey rooted in truth as well as compassion.

Bishop David Oakley, Bishop of Northampton, said:

“We have published this document because we know that those working in pastoral settings can find this issue complex. It is also an issue that needs to be handled sensitively.

“Accompaniment is crucial to the journey of faith, and we wish to emphasise that everyone is welcome in the Church. It is vital that as followers of Christ we imitate the boundless mercy and compassion of God as we deal with the complexity of another’s life.

“But this needs to be done with a clear understanding of the Catholic vision and understanding of the human person and a holistic view of human sexuality.”

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The document, and the executive summary, can be read and downloaded below.