The Supreme Court last summer ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that civil rights protections extend to sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, social conflicts could arise that are not just religious, but deal with basic questions of human nature.
For instance, biological men identifying as transgender women could cite the court's ruling to use women's bathrooms, locker rooms, or homeless shelters despite the concerns of other women using those facilities, Anderson said. They could participate in women's sports against the wishes of their female competitors. They could demand that a doctor help them transition, even if the doctor thinks the procedure is harmful.
These scenarios do "raise religious liberty concerns," Anderson said, "but first and foremost they get the human person wrong-for everyone."
As a response, Catholics must witness to the truth of the human person, he said, "proposing a more excellent way, in season and out," than what the culture claims is true.
"This will entail basic evangelization and catechesis on theology, while also drawing from the best of biology, psychology, sociology, and philosophy" among other disciplines, he said, "to show that there is no tension between faith and reason."
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Catholics should use the "untapped resource" of Church tradition, he added, notably the writings of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and modern popes beginning with Pope Leo XIII.
The social teaching of modern popes "provides endless resources on a wholistic view of the human person, the family, the Church, and the proper role of the state," Anderson said.
When asked what saints could serve as inspirations for Catholics to engage with the broader culture, Anderson responded that Pope St. John Paul II's "clarion call to 'be not afraid'" can galvanize Catholics, and the "philosophical foundations" of St. Thomas Aquinas "will prove essential."