On June 10, 2019, the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education released a reflection on human sexuality entitled: ” ‘Male and Female He Created Them’: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education”
The document is the fullest exposition of the concept of gender (gender identity, gender fluidity, ‘transgenderism,’ etc.) that has been released from the Vatican to date. It is concerned with the “educational crisis… in the field of affectivity and sexuality” (no. 1) and reiterates Catholic anthropology, rooted in Sacred Scripture and Tradition. “The Christian vision of anthropology sees sexuality as a fundamental component of one’s personhood” (no. 4).
The document seeks to combat the dualism that is operative in the idea that “one’s gender ends up being viewed as more important than being of male or female sex. The effect of this move is chiefly to create a cultural and ideological revolution driven by relativism, and secondarily a juridical revolution, since such beliefs claim specific rights for the individual and across society” (no. 20). This is precisely what legislation such as the Equality Act does.
There will be further reflection on this document in the coming days and weeks, so watch this space!
And here’s a reminder of a few resources that the USCCB has created or made available on the issue of gender:
Created Male and Female: An Open Letter from Religious Leaders (December 15, 2017)
Today, the USCCB and a number of ecumenical and interreligious leaders released an open letter entitled, “Created Male and Female.”
Here is the text of the letter and its signers:
December 15, 2017
As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. We reiterate that natural marriage continues to be invaluable to American society.
We come together to join our voices on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one’s sex as male or female.
We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27).
A person’s discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love.
Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of “first, do no harm.” Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.
The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation.
We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person’s sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity.
Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America
The Rev. John F. Bradosky
North American Lutheran Church
Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth
Most Rev. James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln
Chairman, USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage
The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey
Bishop, Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic
Anglican Church in North America
Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
Imam Faizal Khan
Founder and Leader
Islamic Society of the Washington Area
Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
Chairman, USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty
Archbishop of Pittsburgh
Orthodox Church in America
The Rt. Rev. Eric V. Menees
Bishop of San Joaquin
Anglican Church in North America
Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III
Founder and Director
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies
Church of God in Christ
Rev. Dr. Gregory P. Seltz, PhD
The Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty
The Rev. Paull Spring
The North American Lutheran Church
Rev. Tony Suarez
Executive Vice President
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Very Rev. Nathanael Symeonides
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
The Rev. Dr. L. Roy Taylor
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in America
Director of Policy Studies
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
The Rev. Dr. David Wendel
Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism
The North American Lutheran Church
Paul Winter Elder
WASHINGTON, D.C. – His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, issued the following statement today on President Trump’s decision to disqualify transgender individuals from military service:
“Saint Pope John Paul the Second wrote that, ‘Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church.’ This care extends from the time an individual is conceived, until natural death, and every point of life in between. It is offered regardless of personal choices or conditions, because Christ offers salvation to all people.
“Earlier this week, citing a detriment to military readiness and the cost associated with gender reassignment surgeries and therapies, President Trump banned individuals who identify as transgender from serving in the military in any capacity.
“Certainly military readiness is of utmost importance to our servicemen and women who selflessly risk personal safety to defend the values and freedoms of our Nation. The President’s announcement and the prevailing response, however, fail to address the essence of the issue – the dignity of the human person.
“The dignity of the human person is rooted in the fact that people are created in the image and likeness of God – God who in the fullness of his divinity assumed humanity to redeem the world. A recent conference, titled ‘Framing a Catholic Response to Gender Ideology’ held this past May at Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, noted that gender ideology undermines basic Christian anthropology by defining the person as a disembodied mind and the body as a mere instrument. A Catholic response to gender ideology considers multiple insights including medical, psychological, philosophical, theological, pastoral, and legal perspectives. The Church honors human dignity by drawing near in order to accompany people.
“Sexual orientation and gender identity issues reflect a rapidly increasing and incorrect societal attitude that individual behaviors in life should pursue immediate and personal choices rather than eternal truth. In extending the maternal care of the Church to the faithful of this Archdiocese, it is opportune to reaffirm that personal choices in life, whether regarding the protection of the unborn, the sanctity of marriage and the family, or the acceptance of a person’s God-created biology, should be made not solely for a penultimate reality on this earth but in anticipation of the ultimate reality of sharing in the very life of God in heaven.”
Archbishop Chaput, incoming chairman for the Bishops’ Committee for Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, shares segments from the report on sexuality and gender from The New Atlantis in his column this week.
He notes: “We live in a time when fundamental elements of human identity are routinely challenged and reimagined, with consequences impossible to predict. The New Atlantis does all of us a service by publishing the ‘Sexuality and Gender’ report, and restoring some badly needed clarity, scientific substance and prudence to our discussions.”
A new extensive report on sexuality and gender has been issued by The New Atlantis: A Journal of Science and Technology. The report examines a number of claims about the topic in light of the available data.
Doctors Mayer and McHugh have also answered some frequently asked questions about the report.
Our Holy Father Pope Francis has once again surprised the media (this is just one example) with a brief and frank comment about gender ideology. This comment was made during an open discussion with the Polish bishops during the pope’s trip for World Youth Day.
The comment was in response to a question about migrants and is as follows:
I would like to conclude with this aspect, since behind all this there are ideologies. In Europe, America, Latin America, Africa, and in some countries of Asia, there are genuine forms of ideological colonization taking place. And one of these – I will call it clearly by its name – is [the ideology of] “gender”. Today children – children! – are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. Why are they teaching this? Because the books are provided by the persons and institutions that give you money. These forms of ideological colonization are also supported by influential countries. And this terrible!
In a conversation with Pope Benedict, who is in good health and very perceptive, he said to me: “Holiness, this is the age of sin against God the Creator”. He is very perceptive. God created man and woman; God created the world in a certain way… and we are doing the exact opposite. God gave us things in a “raw” state, so that we could shape a culture; and then with this culture, we are shaping things that bring us back to the “raw” state! Pope Benedict’s observation should make us think. “This is the age of sin against God the Creator”. That will help us.
One might ask, how is what the pope said such a surprise?
Pope Francis has commented a number of times on the “ideology of gender” and even the “ideological colonization” that attacks the family. (See, for example, Amoris Laetitia, no. 56; his Meeting with Families in Manila on January 16, 2015; his Address in Naples on March 23, 2015; his General Audience on April 15, 2015; his Address to the bishops of Puerto Rico on June 8, 2015; and his Address to Équipes de Notre Dame on September 10, 2015.)
This is in addition to the numerous times that the Holy Father has insisted (reflecting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2333 and 2393) that all men and women are called to accept their sexual identities (see Amoris Laetitia, nos. 285-286 ; Laudato si’ no. 155) and that the family, based on the marriage between one man and one woman, is essential for children’s development (see, for example, Lumen Fidei, no. 52; Address to the Bishops of Malawi, November 6, 2014; Address to the International Catholic Child Bureau, April 11, 2014; Message for the 49th World Communications Day, January 23, 2015; and Welcome Ceremony in La Paz, Bolivia, July 8, 2015).
Does this mean that the pope is somehow out-of-step with his own declarations about the mercy of God and the abundance of love that God has for each person? Surely not. In fact, these assertions by the Holy Father are no doubt uttered with profound love for those who are harmed by the confusion and pain that gender ideology causes. For if we are created by the loving God as male and female, then we will not find happiness or fulfillment by rejecting this fundamental fact of our existence. Out of love, then, Pope Francis points out the errors in gender ideology and encourages bishops and all Catholics to do the same.
This article was originally posted here by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.
By Archbishop Paul S. Coakley. May 29, 2016.
Earlier this year I came across an “all gender” restroom in the airport of a large American city. I had never seen such a thing. I snapped a picture. It struck me as strange, certainly not something I would expect to find in Oklahoma, for example. That may be about to change.
The media have been highlighting recent legal attempts in some states to keep boys out of girl’s restrooms and vice versa. This latest restroom controversy is a manifestation of the new battleground over “gender.” This battle, however, is about more than who can use which restroom. According to rules just issued by the Obama administration, public schools ought no longer to differentiate between boys and girls based on their biological sex, but now ought to acknowledge and accept their personal “gender identity.”
This is to be the basis for allowing them to choose which restroom to use. So-called gender identity, according to the gender theorists, is a matter of personal expression rather than biology. Consequently, if a boy self-identifies as a girl, then he ought to be allowed to use the girl’s restroom or locker room in any school that accepts government funding. It doesn’t take long to imagine the bizarre consequences that this way of thinking and establishing public policy and law will have in the future.
Efforts to resist the imposition of this gender ideology are already meeting stiff resistance from the federal government and powerful economic forces that are determined to advance their radical reinterpretation of human personhood and relationships. In recent years, many Americans were astounded by how rapidly public opinion, cultural standards and laws changed with regard to the acceptance of so-called homosexual marriage.
Today, anyone who questions the appropriateness of equating same-sex unions with traditional marriage is labeled a bigot, a homophobe and a “hater.” Stiff economic penalties and laws are being enacted that threaten individuals, businesses and other associations that dissent from this new radical orthodoxy that is being advanced by a powerful network of special interests.
What proponents called “marriage equality” was just the beginning. Gender ideology is the next tsunami that threatens to sweep away centuries of accepted human wisdom about the complementarity and real differences between men and women.
These differences are not merely about self-expression and personal choice. Science, philosophy, theology and the accumulated wisdom of every culture have recognized that these differences are rooted in something real and objective. They are rooted in biology and more fundamentally, they are rooted in the design of the Creator.
Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of Love,” acknowledges the threat that this new radical gender ideology poses. It was the subject of much discussion in the recent Synod of bishops on the family. Pope Francis writes, “Yet another challenge is posed by the various forms of an ideology of gender that ‘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 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 that can also change over time.’”
As with every ideology this one asserts itself as beyond dispute and absolute. It envisions a brave new world in which the creature asserts himself as the creator of his own reality. This is demonic. Pope Francis continues, “It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality. Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent. Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place accepting it and respecting it as it was created”(Amoris Laetitia 56).
I am not an alarmist, but it seems clear to me that battle lines are being drawn very clear. And, these lines are about more than government overreach. This is a spiritual battle between Light and darkness.
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!
Cardinal Wuerl has published a piece on his blog regarding the nature of man as male and female.
He writes, “This body is not extraneous, but goes to our very essence… Before all else in this world, before we are able to form a single thought or make any decisions, from the very moment of our origin and conception, we have a body that is intrinsically sexually differentiated and constituted male or female in a way that cannot really be changed. Furthermore, the body reveals that man and woman are made to complement one another – they are made for love, the reality that forms the basis of family.”
Addressing the current cultural situation, Cardinal Wuerl says, “Last year we saw a societal redefinition of marriage and family. Today, the concept of humanity itself is called into question with an aggressive ‘gender’ ideology which holds that whether a person is male or female is not an objective reality, but is subjectively determined. Increasingly, those who do not go along with this new order are denounced and ostracized as bigoted. It is as if we all must now affirm that the world is flat lest we be condemned of discrimination.”
The Cardinal’s piece echoes parts of the MUR video Made for Freedom, released last week. He also cites the statement from Bishop Malone and Archbishop Lucas regarding the “transgender” directives to public schools.
USCCB Chairmen Respond to Administration’s New Guidance Letter on Title IX Application
WASHINGTON—Two Committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement in response to guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education entitled “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students”:
The Catholic Church consistently affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person and advocates for the wellbeing of all people, particularly the most vulnerable. Especially at a young age and in schools, it is important that our children understand the depth of God’s love for them and their intrinsic worth and beauty. Children should always be and feel safe and secure and know they are loved.
The guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education that treats “a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex” is deeply disturbing. The guidance fails to address a number of important concerns and contradicts a basic understanding of human formation so well expressed by Pope Francis: that “the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created” (Amoris Laetitia [AL], no. 285).
Children, youth, and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion, sensitivity, and respect. All of these can be expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security on the part of the other young students and parents. The federal regulatory guidance issued on May 13 does not even attempt to achieve this balance. It unfortunately does not respect the ongoing political discussion at the state and local levels and in Congress, or the broader cultural discussion, about how best to address these sensitive issues. Rather, the guidance short-circuits those discussions entirely.
As Pope Francis has recently indicated, “‘biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated'” (AL, no. 56, emphasis added). We pray that the government make room for more just and compassionate approaches and policies in this sensitive area, in order to serve the good of all students and parents, as well as the common good. We will be studying the guidance further to understand the full extent of its implications.
The statement was issued by Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Archbishop George Lucas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education.
Consultant Dr. Theresa Farnan also wrote an article about this issue for OSV.
On January 4, 2016, the Catholic bishops of Nebraska issued a statement regarding the immanent vote of the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) regarding whether high school students who experience gender dysphoria may participate in sports according to their chosen “gender identity”. They said that allowing biological male students to play women’s sports, or vice versa, would “allow a harmful and deceptive gender ideology” to determine a schools’ activities. “This would certainly have a negative impact on students’ and society’s attitudes towards the fundamental nature of the human person and the family,” they wrote.
The bishops note that every person who experiences gender dysphoria is entitled to respect, dignity, support and concern, but that this support must not compromise the safety, privacy, or rights of all the other students. Read the whole statement here.
“Gender” – as distinct from “sex” – is a term widely used today, but it is quite a new concept in history. While the term “gender” was used to denote masculinity and femininity as early as the Middle Ages (for example, in grammar), the idea that a human person’s masculinity or femininity could be separated from his or her bodily reality did not exist formally until the 1950s. Even then, the person at the origin of this concept – John Money – should give us pause, considering the controversy that surrounds him. There are many articles and books that examine the false separation of “gender” as a psychological experience and sexual difference as a biological reality, but that is not the purpose of this post.
MUR is sharing a simple resource document: a compilation of quotes from the last three pontificates, as well as other Church documents that address this phenomenon of “gender ideology” or “gender theory,” which is a position on anthropology (who a human being is) that is in conflict with the Christian one.
Please share this resource. Teachers, catechists, youth ministers, family life directors, and parents may find this compilation helpful in understanding and communicating about this topic: