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Catholic school says it can't meet demands of transgendered student

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Credit: Dystopos via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Philadelphia, Pa., Sep 14, 2016 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic high school in New Jersey has denied a transgendered student admission after recognizing it would be unable to meet certain accommodations requested by the student and the student’s parents.

A 14-year-old originally registered as a female student, Madelyn Catrambone, was accepted to Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, N.J. last February. The school then received a request form Catrambone’s parents to change Madelyn’s registration to male, and to register the student as Mason.

After meeting with Catrambone’s parents and discussing their requested accommodations, school officials said in a statement that they decided to deny admission to the student, because the accommodations would be in violation of Catholic beliefs about gender.

Michael Walsh, director of communications for the Diocese of Camden, said in a statement that the diocese “fully supports” the school’s decision. "Our administrators took great care to meet with the family and discuss their requests for accommodations. Adhering to its Catholic principles, the school concluded that it could not accommodate the family's requests without compromising some of the basic tenets of our faith," he added.

Father Joseph Capella, director of Catholic identity at the school, also said that the school is shaped by religious belief and must be run accordingly. "Our bodies, and every aspect of our humanity, are a gift we have been asked to steward and protect. We are not the creators. We are the created," he said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We understand that not everyone will accept or agree with our beliefs, and some will choose another learning environment," he added.

In the school’s statement following the incident, school officials said that their policies regarding gender identity reflect Pope Francis’ recent teachings in his encyclical, Amoris Laetitia. “In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis has explained that accepting our bodies as gifts from God is vital for accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father, while ‘thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation,’” they said.

“In addressing certain gender ideologies, Pope Francis concluded clearly that, ‘biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated.’” The school, therefore, could not meet the student’s and parent’s requested accommodations without being in violation of the faith.

Catholic News Agency reached out to the Camden Diocese, which did not clarify what specific accommodations were requested. “As a Catholic school, our principal mission is to form students in the Faith and we must always be true to the teachings of that Faith, even – indeed especially – when those teachings are challenged by the secular world,” the statement continues.

In their corresponding statement, the Diocese of Camden said that while the school strives to work closely with students and families in unique situations, as Pope Francis called for in Amoris Laetitia, in this case, the accommodations could not be made. School officials reiterated the sentiment. “We strive to be welcoming, respectful, and sensitive to each student’s unique needs, while always remaining true to the Church’s teachings,” they said. “In this case, we could not do what the parents wished for their child and they chose to look for another school.”

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