Bishops should consider requiring DNA tests or physical examinations to ensure that all seminarians are biological men, said Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki in a recent memo sent to the members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“Recently, the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance was made aware of instances where it had been discovered that a woman living under a transgendered identity had been unknowingly admitted to the seminary or to a house of formation of an institute of consecrated life,” said the memo.
Archbishop Listecki is the chairman of the USCCB’s canonical affairs committee.
In one case, the archbishop said “the individual’s sacramental records had been fraudulently obtained to reflect her new identity.”
“In all instances, nothing in these individuals’ medical or psychological reports had signaled past treatments or pertinent surgeries,” he added.
None of the biologically female seminarians received Holy Orders, said Archbishop Listecki.
The archbishop’s memo does not identify which seminaries or houses of formation have enrolled a biological female who presented herself as a male, nor was it clarified if these “instances” occurred in the United States or elsewhere.
Rocco Palmo, who writes the blog Whispers in the Loggia, first reported the memo via Twitter on September 23.
While a Catholic baptism certificate typically does not indicate the sex of the person being baptized, other Christian denominations have invited people identifying as transgender to re-affirm their baptismal promises under their new, chosen, name.
The archbishop said that he was “encouraged by the Committee” to send the memo to his brother bishops, so that they could “exercise special vigilance as a new year of seminary formation begins.”
Archbishop Listecki, a doctor of canon law, noted that “canon law requires the diocesan bishop to admit to the major seminary and to promote to Holy Orders only men who possess the requisite physical and psychological qualities,” and that the bishop “can require various means to establish moral certitude in this regard.”
The memo continues: “Some members of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance observed that a bishop could consider requiring a D.N.A. test or, at a minimum, certification from a medical expert of the bishop’s own choosing, to assure that an applicant is male.”
The USCCB declined to comment on the contents of the memo.