Vatican issues document on challenges of ‘gender ideology’ to Catholic education

Pope Francis takes part in a global live video conference at the headquarters of the Pontifical Foundation for Education “Scholas Occurrentes” in Rome Thursday, March 21, 2019, during the launch of the international computer science peace project “Planning for Peace”. (Credit: Andreas Solaro/Pool Photo via AP.)

ROME – In light of changing definitions of love and sexuality fueled by “gender theory,” the Vatican on Monday released a new document looking into issues such as “third sex,” transgenderism, and polyamory.

The document was released by the Congregation for Catholic Education and discussed the response Catholic schools should have to the changing societal landscape.

Titled Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a path of dialogue on the question of gender in education, the document is in many ways a compilation of several remarks given by Pope Francis, who has often expressed his concern over the impact gender ideology has on children.

The 30-page document begins with three quotes from the last three popes: Pope Francis, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II.

In Francis’s words, gender theory “denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family.”

This ideology, the quote continues, “leads to educational programs and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time.”

The Argentine pope has often spoken against this ideology, saying that it harms children and that it’s an attack against the family.

The document, signed by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi on Feb. 2, says that “it is becoming increasingly clear that we are now facing what might accurately be called an educational crisis, especially in the field of affectivity and sexuality.” Quoting Benedict, it claims that in many places, educational curricula are being planned and implemented which “allegedly convey a neutral conception of the person and of life, yet in fact reflect an anthropology opposed to faith and to right reason.”

Yet, the document says this issue should not be looked at in isolation from what John Paul II defined as “education in the call to love,” which should offer “a positive and prudent education in sexuality” within the context of the inalienable right of all to receive “an education that is in keeping with their ultimate goal, their ability, their sex, and the culture and tradition of their country, and also in harmony with their fraternal association with other peoples in the fostering of true unity and peace on earth.”

The final quote belongs not to the Polish pontiff, but to the Second Vatican Council Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis.

In an introductory letter, Versaldi said that the idea for it came in 2017, during the congregation’s general assembly, after bishops from around the world expressed their concerns over the growth of gender education in schools.

According to the document, a distinction has to be drawn between gender ideology and the research on gender that human sciences have undertaken.

The ideologies of gender, as Francis has said, also seek “to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised,” precluding dialogue. On the other hand, there’s work on gender which tries instead to “achieve a deeper understanding of the ways in which sexual difference between men and women is lived out in a variety of cultures.”

To the latter, the Catholic Church should be open “to listen, reason and propose.”

The document says in the present cultural context, “it is clear that sex and gender are no longer synonyms or interchangeable concepts, since they are used to describe two different realities.”

“Sex is seen as defining which of the two biological categories? … The problem here does not lie in the distinction between the two terms, which can be interpreted correctly, but in the separation of sex from gender,” it continues.

The separation of sex from gender is at the root of the various “sexual orientations,” the document argues. These are no longer defined by the sexual difference between men and women, but it can “assume other forms, determined solely by the individual.”

Furthermore, the concept of gender depends on the “subjective mindset of each person, “who can choose a gender not corresponding to his or her biological sex, and therefore with the way others see that person (transgenderism).”

The document also says that the duality in male-female couples is seen as a conflict with the idea of “polyamory,” meaning a relationship that involves more than two individuals. This leads to a claim that relationships are not necessarily built to last, and are instead flexible, depending on the desires of the individuals. This has “consequences for the sharing of the responsibilities and obligations inherent in maternity and paternity.”

This redefinition of gender and the plurality of new types of unions are in direct contradiction to the model of marriage as between a man and a woman, which in turn is portrayed as a “vestige of patriarchal societies.”

The ideal pushed forth by this redefinition is that individuals should be allowed to choose their status, and that society should not only guarantee this right but provide material support, “since the minorities involved would otherwise suffer negative social discrimination.”

Despite the clash this theory poses with Catholic education, the document acknowledges that there can be points in common, such as the fact that children should be taught to appreciate the equal dignity of men and women; to respect every person in their particularity and difference, so that no one should suffer bullying, violence, insults or unjust discrimination based on their specific characteristics (such as special needs, race, religion, sexual tendencies); and to appreciate the values of femininity.

Nonetheless, the most “radical forms” of gender theory also create “a gradual process of denaturalization,” giving both sexual identity and family a “liquidity” and “fluidity” that characterize other aspects of post-modern culture, often rooted with a “confused sense of freedom.”

These forms of ideology create educational programs that try to negate the sexual differences between men and women, and confuse freedom with the idea that people can act “arbitrarily as if there were no truths, values and principles to provide guidance, and everything were possible and permissible.”

The document acknowledges that in some cases, sex isn’t clearly defined. But it’s up to medical professionals to make a therapeutic intervention, and it’s not up to parents, or society, to make an arbitrary decision.

Male and Female He Created Them also argues that the process of identifying sexual identity is made more difficult by the “fictitious construct known as ‘gender neuter’ or ‘third gender’” which obscures the fact that “a person’s sex is a structural determinant of male or female identity.”

The ideas of intersex or transgender, the document says, lead to a masculinity or femininity that is ambiguous. In addition, these concepts “presuppose the very sexual difference that they propose to negate or supersede.”

The document also notes that even though gender ideology aims to remove the idea of complementarity between men and women, particularly when it comes to procreation, by proposing alternatives such as in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, at the end of the day, a man and a woman are needed for either process to work.

In keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church, it also says that children enjoy the right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother.

The document also underlines the primacy of parents in educating their children, which is supplemented by the subsidiary role of schools and the Church. Quoting Francis, it also says that this educational alliance has entered into crisis.

“There is an urgent need to promote a new alliance that is genuine and not simply at the level of bureaucracy, a shared project that can offer a positive and prudent sexual education that can harmonize the primary responsibility of parents with the work of teachers,” the document says.

Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma


Taking the life of a child in the womb is not the answer – Not in Alabama or New York, not in Northern Ireland or London


WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 21: Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y) speaks at a pro-choice rally at the Supreme Court on May 21, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Alabama law, signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last week, includes no exceptions for cases of rape and incest, outlawing all abortions except when necessary to prevent serious health problems for the woman. Though women are exempt from criminal and civil liability, the new law punishes doctors for performing an abortion, making the procedure a Class A felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Whilst the Brexit drama continues to unfold, there is a fight underway in the US which, arguably, says far more about a nation and its people than Britain leaving the EU: It is the fight over what protections, if any, a baby in the womb should have in law.

In the wake of the State of Alabama’s decision to pass The Alabama Human Life Protection Act, the abortion issue has hit the headlines once more. The bien pensant were particularly horrified by this piece of legislation – which grants full legal protection to unborn children and effectively outlaws abortion – leading to panic and hysteria in large sections of social media, and a number of celebrity personalities offering some bizarre, threatening, and macabre condemnations.

So before accepting this distorted narrative let’s at least establish and evaluate the  facts.

A woman who has an abortion in Alabama “will not be held criminally culpable or civilly liable for receiving the abortion”, neither will any woman go to prison for having a miscarriage, as has been claimed.

The legislation also rightly stipulates that if the mother’s life is in danger, the premature cessation of pregnancy to save her life remains lawful. Importantly “[t]he term [abortion] does not include: a procedure or act to terminate the pregnancy of a woman with an ectopic pregnancy.” Those who support the right to life of the unborn, including myself, have long recognised the tragedy of an ectopic pregnancy, and have always distinguished this from an abortion insofar as the intention in ending such a pregnancy is not to end the life of the child.

Now contrast this “extreme” legislation with the opposite “extreme” legislation: New York’s Reproductive Health Act.

This legislation, passed in January of this year, did not meet with anything like the same outcry despite its truly radical and dehumanising nature. It establishes abortion as a “fundamental right” essentially making abortion available up to birth.

In the developed world, children born as early as 22 weeks, just over half way through the pregnancy, are able to survive with medical assistance outside of their mother’s womb. And yet the law in New York allows a doctor to end the life of a fully developed baby right up until they are born.

Revealingly, a ComRes poll conducted in 2017 shows the British public favour greater, not fewer, protections for the unborn in law.

70% of women respondents wanted to see a reduction in the upper limit for abortions, which is currently at 24 weeks in the UK (and up to birth where it is thought that the baby might have a disability).

Indeed, 59% of women overall wanted to see the upper limit as low as 16 weeks. By contrast, only a tiny minority (1%) of the general population wanted to see an increase in the time limit through to birth, in all cases, similar to the extreme New York law, a position that has nonetheless been advocated for by many abortion lobby groups here in the UK.

Furthermore, 91% of women support an explicit ban on sex-selective abortion, with only 4% of women against.

If 90% of women don’t want sex selective abortion but if abortion‘s leading cheerleader, Ann Furedi, is right that “you can’t be pro-choice only when you like the choice” then in reality very few people *are* pro-choice.

Nor are parents in the Furedi camp.

70% of parents with children who are 18 or under wanted to see parental consent before a teenage girl undergoes an abortion.

These figures clearly show that there is strong support for changes to our abortion laws in the UK.

Despite this, the pro-abortion lobby are now using the law in Alabama as a springboard to impose abortion on Northern Ireland and some British MPs, once champions of devolution, have apparently turned full circle when it comes to abortion.

When it comes to abortion, the ideologues will not allow other concerns to hold them back.

They are indifferent to the 2016 democratic vote of the Northern Ireland Assembly against a change to its pro-life abortion law.

Nor are they willing to address the “reasonable probability” that “around 100,000 people are alive in Northern Ireland today who would have otherwise been aborted had it been legal to do so”.

Neither are they interested in polling showing that two-thirds of women in Northern Ireland (including 70% of 18-34 year olds) believe that the law on abortion should be a decision for the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives, and not for Westminster.

And then they wonder that political elites are despised by vast swathes of the population.

And what is the ideology that they seek to impose?

Since 1973, when the Federal Government imposed abortion on States which, historically, had always upheld the right to life of their unborn citizens, we have seen a coarsening of conscience leading to a significant political backlash.

What was once thought is now openly and offensively said  – encapsulated by this remark of John Rogers, a member of the Alabama House of Representatives:

“Some kids are unwanted. So you kill them now or you kill them later. You bring them in the world unwanted, unloved, and you send them to the electric chair. So you kill them now or you kill them later.”

Northern Ireland, without laws that elsewhere in the U.K. have led to one abortion every 3 minutes, and with a unique understanding of the consequences of violence, has maintained protections for unborn children in law.  That is to their credit.

While it is true that “some kids are unwanted” and “unloved”, the solution is not to end their lives, now or later. It is to love them now and later. To love them and their mothers. To love them both.