Divine Division: Kentucky Bishop Comes Out for Trans Brother, Fracturing Church Unity

A 39-year-old Catholic hermit from Kentucky, Brother Christian Matson, has made headlines after coming out as transgender with the public support of local church leader Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington.

Finding Catholicism

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Originally, Matson was raised Presbyterian, but he converted to Catholicism in 2010, finding his new religious identity four years after his gender transition in college.  

Life of a Hermit

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Now living in a solitary life of prayer, Matson eventually became a diocesan hermit, making vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity directly to a diocesan bishop.

Searching for Acceptance

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Matson spent many years looking for religious acceptance but struggled to find support thanks to a 2000 Vatican document declaring those who have undergone “sex-change” surgery ineligible for certain religious roles.

Finding a Bishop

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To be a diocesan hermit, there is no restrictions on sex or gender, so Matson just needed to find a bishop willing to support their religious journey.

A Bishop Who Will Accept You

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When talking about this stage in his experience, Matson said, “There’s no problem as long as there’s a bishop who will accept you, because there’s no distinction by sex and you’re not in a community — you’re by yourself.”

Finding Acceptance

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In 2020, Matson finally found someone willing to support him when Bishop Stowe responded positively to Matson’s letter and provided Matson the opportunity to pursue his vocation.

An Enormous Relief

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After years of searching with little hope, Matson said receiving Bishop Stowe’s letter “was an enormous relief. I was in tears. I felt my hope revive.”

Male or Female

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Bishop Stowe supported Matson’s vocation and reiterated the fact that hermits can be either male or female and do not engage in priesthood or sacramental ministry.

Moving to Kentucky

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After some back and forth with Bishop Stowe, Matson moved to Kentucky, took his first vows in 2022, and has been living a life of prayer and work while keeping his “medical history” private.

Coming Out

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However, Matson would eventually decide to come out publicly on Pentecost after seeing anti-trans rhetoric and the Catholic Church’s stance on trans people.

Possible Backlash

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Both Matson and Bishop Stowe understood that there would most likely receive a great deal of negative comments and feedback once this was all made public, but they say they are prepared to handle it.

Culpably Ignorant

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When discussing this decision, Matson told ReligionNews.com, “I can’t stand by and let this false and, at times, culpably ignorant understanding of what it means to be transgender continue to hurt people.”

Encounter with Trans Student

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Matson attributes a meeting he had with a trans and nonbinary student who felt rejected by the church as their inspiration to advocate more publicly for trans rights.

Promoting Understanding

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Despite the Vatican’s mixed messages on gender theory and identity, Matson hopes his public disclosure will create an opportunity for dialogue and promote understanding within the church.

Not Serving the Church

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Matson said, “If I don’t say anything and allow the church to continue to make decisions based on incorrect information, then I’m not serving the church.”

Belonging in Church

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Matson now advocates for trans-Catholics and spreads a message that says they belong in the church and should be acknowledged as members. 

Remaining Committed

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Despite the potential opposition, Matson remains committed to his faith and vocation, and sees this experience as an essential part of his spiritual journey and service to the church.

Serving the Church

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 Matson told ReligionNews.com, “You’ve got to deal with us, because God has called us into this church” and “I don’t have a hidden agenda, I just want to serve the church.”

Hope for Dialogue

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Now, Matson hopes his coming out will lead to constructive dialogue about the place of transgender individuals in the Catholic Church and enhance unity among all believers regardless of sexual identity.

The post Divine Division: Kentucky Bishop Comes Out for Trans Brother, Fracturing Church Unity first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.