(CNSNews.com) -- To deal with the often confusing and politically charged issue of gender identity and transgenderism, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, head of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Ill., has issued a "pastoral guide" on the topic, which clearly states that "a person cannot change his or her gender" and that sex-reassignment surgery is "a type of mutilation and intrinsically evil."
The bishop also explains that "gender dysphoria is a real psychological condition," and such cases should always be handled "with gentle and compassionate pastoral skill and concern" without any "discrimination" or "harsh treatment."
The guide sets the policy for the diocese and applies to "all Catholic agencies, including parishes, schools, institutions, departments, or other entities," and to the people who work in or attend those agencies.
The policy states that those agencies "shall respect the biological sex with which a person is born and shall apply all policies and procedures in relation to that person according to that person's biological sex at birth."
As Bishop Paprocki explains, "our schools, parishes and other institutions embrace with compassion those families and individuals with gender dysphoria and patiently supports them in their journey. However, it must be clear that our schools and Church institutions (including sacramental records and school records) will refer to such persons with the gender pronouns, along with bathroom and locker room use and sports activities that acknowledge their God-given biology."
"Some families may not be willing to agree with this approach, and we need to respect their freedom," he said. "[B]ut they must likewise respect the Church’s duty to adhere to revealed truth if they are to participate actively and fully in our faith community, especially our Catholic schools."
That "revealed truth" comes directly from the Catholic Church and is detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Paraphrasing and quoting from the Catechism, the bishop states, "The Church teaches that our identities as male and female are part of God’s good design in Creation, that our bodies and sexual identities are gifts from God, and that we should accept and care for our bodies as they were created."
"A person cannot change his or her gender," the Church teaches. "A person should accept and seek to live in conformity with his or her sexual identity as determined at birth."
Further, "the Catholic Church teaches that the removal or destruction of healthy sexual and reproductive organs is a type of mutilation and intrinsically evil," said the bishop. "Procedures, surgeries, and therapies designed to assist a person in 'transitioning' his or her gender are morally prohibited."
The bishop also mentions that there are many cases now of parents, in Illinois and elsewhere, submitting their children to hormone therapies to "prepare for sexual transgender surgeries later."
"Viewed through a Christian lens, such cases amount to child abuse and genital mutilation," says Bishop Paprocki.
In Britain, for instance, the number of children referred to the Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS) increased from 77 in 2009-10 to "nearly 2,600 in 2018-19," and there were 3,000 children on a waiting list, notes the pastoral guide.
"In particular, the number of girls being referred to the GIDS has increased by 4,500% over that time," the guide reports. "This trend presents moral, psychological, and physical dangers to our children."
To provide parents, students, and diocesan employees with more resources to study on gender identity, the pastoral guide links to instructional videos, a document entitled Male and Female He Created Them, and a study posted on YouTube, Transgender Children: Crisis in Care.
All employees in the Springfield Diocese must follow the policy in the pastoral guide. "Violation of this policy by any employee may include immediate corrective action, suspension, and possible termination of employment," according to the guide.
Also, the document stipulates, "A student of any Catholic school who insists, or whose parents insist, on open hostility toward, or defiance of, Church teaching, or who otherwise intentionally violate this policy, may be expelled from the school pursuant to this policy...."
Students with gender dysphoria may attend Catholic schools in the diocese but they must abide by the pastoral guide's rules and a Family School Agreement.