SACRAMENTO, California, July 1, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic parish recently screened a film spotlighting “gender identity,” the presentation of which its diocese says did not controvert Church teaching.
The LGBT and Adult Faith Formation ministries of Sacramento’s St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church hosted Call Me Malcolm on June 22. The film was billed by the parish as a “down-to-earth, non-threatening and wholesome film” about a “transgendered man in his first year of United Church of Christ seminary.”
The 90-minute documentary was written by a United Church of Christ (UCC) minister and produced in 2005 by the UCC.
It follows Miriam, now “Malcolm,” a UCC seminary student who had undergone “sex reassignment” surgery and travels around meeting with other “transgender” individuals.
“Call Me Malcolm is an amazing story of the human spirit and God’s spirit, and the liberating struggle to realize and express with confidence the marvelous gift of one’s truest sense of self,” the UCC’s information says of the film. “The good news of Malcolm’s story is the way in which shame and fear are overcome by grace, compassion and knowledge. Viewers cannot help but come to a deeper understanding of faith, love, and gender identity, and by doing so, arrive at a deeper understanding of their own journey.”
An individual interviewed in the film censures the Christian view of gender theory, ChurchMilitant.com reports, calling it repressive and not the norm, and a female Protestant minister makes the claim that “transgenderism” is biblical, stating:
I think God was very clear in Genesis. When we hear the language, in the image of God was humanity created both male and female; and you’ve heard me articulate before that my theology of transgender is that: if you are looking for someone who incarnates the most clear and whole vision of who God is, based on our Scripture tradition, that it has to be a transgender person who experienced both male and female. That is the most whole vision of the sacred that we are going to get.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish advertised the event in a Facebook post and its parish bulletin, telling attendees to “be ready for stimulating post-film discussion.”
LifeSiteNews asked the contact for the event, who was listed in the church bulletin entry, for the parish’s intent in screening the film, and how doing so reconciled with Catholic teaching on gender and sexuality.
Richard Hernandez, who in addition to serving as St. Francis’ director of outreach is also listed on the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce as its vice president, serving on its Gala and Drag Queen Bingo committees, said it was not the right time to offer comment on the movie.
This was because the parish, founded and overseen for more than 120 years by the Franciscan Friars of California, was in the process of becoming a diocesan parish, Hernandez said, and outgoing pastor Father Ken Laverone (who assisted Pope Francis in the canonization of Father Junipero Serra during the pontiff’s U.S. trip last September) was in Europe walking the Camino de Santiago and Camino Portuguese.
Diocese of Sacramento spokesman Kevin Eckery told LifeSiteNews the diocese was made aware of the parish’s plans to screen the film after fielding inquiries expressing concern in advance of the scheduled date. The diocese gave the go-ahead to show the film, Eckery said, as long as it was made clear that it was non-catechetical in nature and there was someone present at the event to explain Church teaching on sexuality and gender so no one went away confused about Church teaching.
It was likely that Hernandez, as parish outreach director, would have been the one on hand to explain Church teaching, he said, and further emphasized that neither the parish nor its departing pastor encourages behavior in conflict with the Church’s teaching or has been affirming of anything but Catholic principles.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish has been a host site of Sacramento’s LGBT Service of Remembrance, it is listed on Yelp in the “gay church” category, and is also recognized by homosexual activist groups, with Dignity San Francisco calling it a “safer parish” and New Ways Ministry terming it a “gay friendly” parish.
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