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Bishop Calls Easter Observance of Transgender Day ‘Offensive and Unnecessary’

Attendees are seen at an Oct. 23, 2021, conference on gender ideology and the Catholic response at St. Theresa Church in Ashburn, Va. About 125 people attended the conference. (Photo: Kevin Schweers/Arlington Catholic Herald via CNS)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Commenting on the Biden Administration and local officials in Fairfax County, Virginia, promoting March 31, which this year was Easter Sunday, as Transgender Day of Visibility, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington called it “offensive to many people and unnecessary.”

“I was so extremely, extremely disappointed that our local officials and our president would use the most important religious observance of the Christian calendar to proclaim a message that is political, it is, and a source of division,” Bishop Burbidge said April 4. “It was offensive to many people, and unnecessary.” 

“I know you’re going to say, ‘well it goes back to March 31, 2009,’” Bishop Burbidge continued. “But we transfer holidays all of the time. We haven’t really talked about this day until it was on Easter, so I would tend to think that it was calculated and that is really, really sad, and it was offensive as Christians.” 

Transgender Day of Visibility has been celebrated on March 31 since 2009. President Joe Biden has issued a proclamation around the observance of that date every year since becoming president. This year, the day coincidentally fell on Easter Sunday, which falls on a different date each year. 

As for Fairfax County, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to declare March 31 as Transgender Day of Visibility at the county level at their most recent meeting before March 31. 

Bishop Burbidge made the comments in the April 4 episode of his “Walk Humbly” podcast, where he also accused the government bodies of trying, but failing, to take away from Christians’ Easter celebration.

Bishop Burbidge said that while the Church offers love and compassion, and has a desire to walk with, assist, and counsel transgender people, “we cannot agree that anyone is someone other than who God created that person to be, nor can we agree with surgeries or other medical inventions to confirm what is not true.” He added that lifting up Transgender Day of Visibility may be harmful to those who have detransitioned. 

Further, Bishop Burbidge, who is also the chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said he wishes Biden would instead celebrate all of life. 

“We should be celebrating all of human life and I wish the president would join us in special occasions throughout the year where we do exactly that, where we stand up for life, march peacefully for life, celebrate life, but this day just divides people and it hurts people,” Bishop Burbidge said. 

During the podcast, Bishop Burbidge also praised Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington for his recent appearance on the March 31 edition of “Face the Nation” on CBS. In the appearance, Cardinal Gregory labeled Biden a “cafeteria Catholic” in the way he picks and chooses aspects of the faith to support. 

“The ‘cafeteria Catholic’ phrase gets our attention, but it really goes back to what Jesus said. Jesus loves us so much he does not want us or allows us to be in the middle. He always said that one of the things that the Lord really spoke against was being lukewarm, and he said ‘you’re either for me, or you’re against me,’” Bishop Burbidge said. “And so I think that’s what Cardinal Gregory is saying. You can’t pick and choose.” 

“If you’re for the Lord then you’re all in and that means following his Gospel and embracing the Gospel of life,” he explained. “You can’t pick and choose. And that’s not just for the president, that’s for all of us.” 

Bishop Burbidge then touched on the White House’s decision to not allow any participants in its egg decorating contest to include any religious symbols, or “overtly religious themes,” saying that if that’s going to be the standard then they might as well not have the event. The White House later clarified that the language has been used for the event for the last 45 years across Democratic and Republican administrations. 

“You can’t make up what Easter is. Everyone knows what Easter is. It is a celebration of the Lord Jesus, who raised from the dead, who took on the world and proved victorious. That’s Easter. You can’t pretend it’s something else,” Bishop Burbidge said. “If you’re going to say no religious symbols, we’re not going to acknowledge Jesus on Easter Sunday, well then don’t have a celebration.” 

Between promoting the Transgender Day of Visibility and the Easter egg decision, Bishop Burbidge said it was “very disappointing” to see a Catholic president “compromise who you are and who you believe.”

“I think the average person, and people of goodwill, in the end, respect integrity. And seeing our president walking away from his faith, especially on Easter, and declaring no Easter symbols, declaring this Transgender Visibility Day, it’s very, very disappointing to say the least,” Bishop Burbidge said.