Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dogmas of faith: Transgenderism and Transubstantiation

Few days ago, we hear in the news about the murder of the transgender Filipino Jennifer Laude--a man who changed his appearance to that of a woman.  While many used his death to push for the junking of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) or for the classification of deaths of gays as hate crimes, I shall focus instead on the similarity and difference between the words "transgender" and the Catholic dogma of "transubstantiation".

A. Transgenders and Homosexuals

What is a transgender?  The prefix trans means "across", so that a transgender person assigns to himself/herself opposite to what his physiology indicates:
There is ample academic literature on the difference between sex and gender. For example, the Medilexicon Medical dictionary states that one's sex is a biological or physiological quality, while one's gender is a (psychological) "category to which an individual is assigned by self or others...".[22] Therefore, transsexuality can be said to deal more with material aspects of one's sexuality, while transgender considerations can be said to deal more with one's internal gender disposition or predisposition, as well as the related social expectations that may accompany a given gender role.[23] However, in pragmatic English, the sex and gender distinction is often ignored, so that gender is used to describe the categorical male/female difference and sex is used to describe sexual activity.[24]
 In terms of the Aristotelian philosophy of accidents and substances, we can say that transgenders believe that substantially they are female, though by accident (physiology) they are male or vice-versa:
Aristotle made a distinction between the essential and accidental properties of a thing. For example, a chair can be made of wood or metal but this is accidental to its being a chair: that is, it is still a chair regardless of the material from which it is made.[2] To put this in technical terms, an accident is a property which has no necessary connection to the essence of the thing being described.[3][4][5]....  The nine kinds of accidents according to Aristotle are quantity, quality, relation, habitus, time, location, situation (or position), action, and passion ("being acted on"). Together with "substance", these nine kinds of accidents constitute the ten fundamental categories of Aristotle's ontology.[6] 
Or as Charice Pempengco would say in her interview with Oprah, her soul is male, though her body is that of a female:
"Not exactly transitioning to a male, but basically my soul is like male," Charice revealed. "But I'm not going to go through that stage where I'm going to change everything—not change my body. I would change, like this look: Cut my hair and wear boy clothes and everything, but that's all." (E online)
Well, if this is true, then transgenderism is a dogma comparable to Transubstantiation.

B. Transubstatiation and the Holy Eucharist

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."206 1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.... 1413 By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).
That is, after consecration, what appears to be bread is no longer bread but the Body of Christ and what appears to be wine is no longer wine but the Blood of Christ.  St. Aquinas explains this in more detail in his Summa Theologica:
For it is evident that every agent acts according as it is in act. But every created agent is limited in its act, as being of a determinate genus and species: and consequently the action of every created agent bears upon some determinate act. Now the determination of every thing in actual existence comes from its form. Consequently, no natural or created agent can act except by changing the form in something; and on this account every change made according to nature's laws is a formal change. But God is infinite act, as stated in I, 7, 1; 26, 2; hence His action extends to the whole nature of being. Therefore He can work not only formal conversion, so that diverse forms succeed each other in the same subject; but also the change of all being, so that, to wit, the whole substance of one thing be changed into the whole substance of another. And this is done by Divine power in this sacrament; for the whole substance of the bread is changed into the whole substance of Christ's body, and the whole substance of the wine into the whole substance of Christ's blood. Hence this is not a formal, but a substantial conversion; nor is it a kind of natural movement: but, with a name of its own, it can be called "transubstantiation".... 
From these observations we can gather the various ways of speaking in such matters. For, because in no one of the aforesaid three things are the extremes coexistent, therefore in none of them can one extreme be predicated of the other by the substantive verb of the present tense: for we do not say, "Non-being is being" or, "Bread is the body of Christ," or, "Air is fire," or, "White is black." Yet because of the relationship of the extremes in all of them we can use the preposition "ex" [out of, which denotes order; for we can truly and properly say that "being is made out of non-being," and "out of bread, the body of Christ," and "out of air, fire," and "out of white, black." But because in creation one of the extremes does not pass into the other, we cannot use the word "conversion" in creation, so as to say that "non-being is converted into being": we can, however, use the word in this sacrament, just as in natural transmutation. But since in this sacrament the whole substance is converted into the whole substance, on that account this conversion is properly termed transubstantiation. (Summa Theologica)
Here are some verses from Tantum Ergo composed by St. Aquinas regarding transubstantiation in the Holy Eucharist:
Tantum ergo Sacramentum Veneremur cernui: Et antiquum documentum Novo cedat ritui: Præstet fides supplementum Sensuum defectui. 
Translation: Hence so great a Sacrament Let us venerate with heads bowed [cernui] And let the old practice [documentum] Give way to the new rite; Let faith provide a supplement For the failure of the senses.

C. Transgenderism vs. Transubstantiation

So is the homosexual dogma of Transgenderism on the same level as the Catholic dogma of Transubstatiation?  In a sense this is true that both are dogmas, for a dogma is a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted, or that is taught by a religious organization.  This makes homosexuality a religion, but instead of the worship of God, the homosexuals worship pleasure and sex.  As St. Paul said:
Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts* for the mutual degradation of their bodies.v 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.w 26 Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27 and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. (Rom 1:24-27)
The due penalty for homosexual perversity is HIV:
US: Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM)a represent approximately 2% of the United States population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV. In 2010, young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24 years) accounted for 72% of new HIV infections among all persons aged 13 to 24, and 30% of new infections among all gay and bisexual men. At the end of 2010, an estimated 489,121 (56%) persons living with an HIV diagnosis in the United States were gay and bisexual men, or gay and bisexual men who also inject drugs. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
Philippines: In August 2012, there were 272 new HIV Ab sero-positive individuals confirmed by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL) and reported to the HIV and AIDS Registry (Table 1). This was 39% higher compared to the same period last year (n=196 in 2011) [Figure 1]. Most of the cases (95%) were males. The median age was 28 years (age range: 18-60 years). The 20-29 year (59%) age-group had the most number of cases. Fifty-one percent (138) of the reported cases were from the National Capital Region (NCR). Reported mode of transmission were sexual contact (253) and needle sharing among injecting drug users (19). [Table 2, page 3]. Males having sex with other males (86%) were the predominant type of sexual transmission [Figure 2]. Most (93%) of the cases were still asymptomatic at the time of reporting [Figure 3]. (Department of Health)
On the other hand, saints who were devoted to the Holy Eucharist were given the sign of the stigmata:
Stigmata (singular stigma) is a term used by members of the Christian faith to describe body marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ, such as the hands, wrists, and feet. The term originates from the line at the end of Saint Paul's Letter to the Galatians where he says, "I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." Stigmata is the plural of the Greek word στίγμα stigma, meaning a mark, tattoo,[1] or brand such as might have been used for identification of an animal or slave. An individual bearing stigmata is referred to as a stigmatic or a stigmatist. Stigmata are primarily associated with the Roman Catholic faith. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders.[2] St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. For over fifty years, St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin reported stigmata which were studied by several 20th-century physicians. (Wikipedia: Stigmata)
Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community
Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community
Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue
Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue
Homosexuality and the Catholic Church
Homosexuality and the Catholic Church
Truth about Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful
Truth about Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful
Some Later Medieval Theories of the Eucharist: Thomas Aquinas, Gilles of Rome, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham
Some Later Medieval Theories of the Eucharist: Thomas Aquinas, Gilles of Rome, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham
Aquinas and Radical Orthodoxy: A Critical Inquiry (Routledge Studies in Religion)
Aquinas and Radical Orthodoxy: A Critical Inquiry (Routledge Studies in Religion)
Holy Mass: In defence of transubstantiation
Holy Mass: In defence of transubstantiation
This Is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers The Real Presence
This Is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers The Real Presence
The Metaphysics (Penguin Classics)
The Metaphysics (Penguin Classics)
The Global HIV Epidemics among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) (Directions in Development)
The Global HIV Epidemics among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) (Directions in Development)
The Stigmata of Francis of Assisi: New Studies, New Perspectives
The Stigmata of Francis of Assisi: New Studies, New Perspectives