The Roman Catholic hierarchy rarely utters the word transsexual or transgender. And when it does, it's only to say that transgendered persons either don't exist or are suffering from a psychiatric disorder.
Add this latest statistic to the "discrepancy between hierarchical teaching and lay conviction" file: According to a recent study by the Washington-based Public Religion Research Institute, a staggering 93 percent of Catholics in the United States support rights for transgendered persons.
The Public Religion Research Institute is also responsible for the study earlier this year that found that an overwhelming 74 percent of Catholics favor legal recognition for same-sex relationships, either through civil unions (31 percent) or civil marriage (43 percent).
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That figure is higher than the 64 percent of all Americans, 67 percent of mainline Protestants and significantly higher than 48 percent of black Protestants and 40 percent of evangelicals.
So, once again, Catholics in this country are on the cutting edge of issues related to human rights. Although they reject hierarchy's teaching on sexuality, the majority of the laity certainly takes seriously the Catholic theology of social justice in their defense of the rights and dignity of all members of society.