While a new document by the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference (USCCB) clearly forbids Catholic medical facilities from engaging in “gender transition” surgeries or distributing cross-sex drugs, Alaska’s largest Catholic hospital says it will continue to provide what it calls the “full range” of services available in its facilities.
While Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage does not advertise transgender surgeries, it does openly promote and dispense cross-sex hormones for patients who wish to reshape their bodies to so as to appear as the opposite sex.
The U.S. bishops’ March 20 document, however, condemns this as contrary to the natural order and design of the human body.
The bishops’ document, “Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body,” is specifically directed to Catholic medical organizations. It strongly denounces transgender ideology due to its radical rejection of the human body, along with the false notion that a person can be born into the “wrong” body, and may therefore change or reconfigure certain parts of their body to fit with various gender identity preferences.
While Providence claims to be a “Catholic health care ministry” that expresses “God’s healing love,” a March 28 statement from the hospital showed little regard for the bishops’ document.
“We are aware that the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) has released the Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body and plan to review the note thoroughly,” a statement from the hospital explained.
Providence added that it remains committed to providing health care “without discrimination,” including transgender services.
“In line with state and federal laws and more importantly our mission and values, we provide each patient with the full range of care available at our facilities,” the statement continued. “We are proud to offer transgender community a respectful, welcoming place of healing. To ensure we are providing this care compassionately and consistently, we are developing best practices, standardizing care, and rolling out education to train clinicians and caregivers in our facilities on caring for transgender persons, including creating an inviting and healing environment by using our patients’ preferred names and pronouns.”
Alaska’s largest hospital added, “Care for transgender patients is highly specialized. When patients require providers with medical expertise beyond what’s available at Providence, we ensure a safe transition of care to those providers as needed.”
The Providence statement concludes by stating the organization was willing to “continue our dialogue with the USCCB around this important issue.”
The U.S. bishops, though, warn that capitulation to transgender ideologies violates human nature and will never lead to true happiness.
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“We did not create human nature; it is a gift from a loving Creator,” the bishops wrote. “Nor do we ‘own’ our human nature, as if it were something that we are free to make use of in any way we please. Thus, genuine respect for human dignity requires that decisions about the use of technology be guided by genuine respect for this created order.”
The bishops emphasize that humans are a body-soul unity, which cannot be re-fashioned at will. Any legitimate medical treatment must respect the fact that humans are created male or female, the said.
The bishops specifically called out “gender transitioning” surgeries and drugs, which they said regard the natural order as “unsatisfactory in some way and proposes a more desirable order, a redesigned order.”
They later criticize some of the exact treatments, which Providence offers, specifically those that “involve the use of surgical or chemical techniques that aim to exchange the sex characteristics of a patient’s body for those of the opposite sex or for simulations thereof.” This would include puberty blockers which “arrest the natural course of puberty.”
According to the U.S. bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives, “If it is discovered that a Catholic health care institution might be wrongly cooperating with immoral procedures, the local diocesan bishop should be informed immediately,” and “the leaders of the institution should resolve the situation as soon as reasonably possible.”
Archbishop Andrew Bellisario is head of the Anchorage-Juneau Archdiocese and charged with shepherding area parishes, schools and organizations such as Providence that claim to be Catholic.
The Alaska Watchman sent multiple emails to the Anchorage-Juneau Archdiocese leadership and Archbishop Bellisario for comment on the status of Providence and its Catholic identity. There was no response.
Providence has historic ties to the Catholic faith. It still maintains a chapel and a large statue of Christ outside its main entrance, but has largely deviated from its Christian roots. Founded by the Sisters of Providence to serve the medical needs of Alaskans, the hospital has distanced itself from Catholic moral and ethical teachings surrounding human sexuality and reproduction.
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