LGBTQ advocates were outraged over a statement from the Catholic diocese in Michigan saying that gay and transgender people could only receive communion if they have “repented.”
The guidance from the Diocese of Marquette was posted to social media on Wednesday, but was issued originally in March.
The statement said that people with gender dysphoria were “in need of our care and pastoral accompaniment,” and compared the condition to anorexia.
“In this disorder there is an incongruence between how the persons perceive themselves and their bodily reality,” the guidance said, according to NBC News. “Just as we would refer a person with anorexia to an expert to help him or her, let us also refer persons with gender dysphoria to a qualified counselor to help them while we show them the depth of our love and friendship.”
The diocese went on to say that transgender people and people in same-sex relationships should not receive communion or be baptized. It also said that they could participate in the sacraments of the church if they repented. Gay people would repent by leaving their same-sex relationships, and transgender people could do so by living as the gender they were born with.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, an advocate for LGBTQ rights in the Catholic church, called the statement from the diocese one of the most “egregious” ever issued by a diocese.
On Thursday, the Diocese of Marquette responded to the online furor by explaining that the guidance was meant to be shared with school principals and pastors.
“The Church teaches that persons experiencing feelings of same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria is not sinful, but freely acting upon them is,” said the statement from John Fee, the communications director for the diocese.
Duddy-Burke warned that such statements would lead to more people leaving the church.
“If the church continues to have discriminatory attitudes, policies and teachings, the trend of people opting out of Catholicism is only going to continue,” she concluded.