The Vatican has condemned 'gender theory', the notion that people should be able to choose or change their gender, as a “confused concept of freedom” not “based on the truths of existence” in an official new document.
The Vatican booklet released Monday, titled “Male and Female He Created Them” describes gender fluidity as a symptom of the “momentary desires” that characterise post-modern culture, and claims that basing gender on self-identity rather than biology is an attempt to “annihilate nature”.
The right to “choose one’s gender”, the Vatican says in the document, is in “direct contradiction of the model of marriage as being between one man and one woman”.
The text was designed to aid Catholic teachers, parents, students and clergy address what the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, calling gender theory an “educational crisis” in the field of sex education.
It called for a “path of dialogue” and for educators to address the issue of gender theory directly.
The advocacy group New Ways Ministry told the media it would further confuse individuals who are questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation and are at risk of self-harm.
Francis DeBernardo, head of New Ways Ministry, said such concepts are outdated, misinformed and ignore contemporary science.
“Gender is also biologically determined by genetics, hormones and brain chemistry — things not visible at birth,” Mr. DeBernardo said in a statement.
Reacting to the 31-page document, the pro-LGBT Catholic group @NewWaysMinistry writes, "The only truth that the document reveals is that the Vatican remains ill equipped to discuss gender and sexuality in the modern world."— Michael J. O'Loughlin (@MikeOLoughlin) June 10, 2019
Even priestly advocates for LGBT Catholics noted that the document seems to rely entirely on previous papal pronouncements, Vatican documents and philosophers and theologians.
Prominent Jesuit Priest Father James Martin, who has advocated for the church to more openly welcome LGBT members, said on Twitter that while the new document supports dialogue and listening, it “sets aside the real-life experiences of LGBT people”.
“The real-life experiences of LGBT people seem entirely absent from this document,” said Father Martin, author of the book Building A Bridge, on improving Catholic Church outreach to the LGBT community.
“We should welcome the congregation's call to dialogue and listening on gender, and I hope that conversation will now begin.”
Breaking: Vatican document takes aim at "gender theory." It rightly calls for "dialogue" and "listening," but sets aside the real-life experiences of LGBT people. Sadly, it will be used as a cudgel against transgender people, and an excuse to argue that they shouldn't even exist. https://t.co/UMAIKitD9w— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) June 10, 2019
The released Vatican document, as anticipated, split Twitter users, eliciting very diverse reactions.
So very disappointed. While this Pope seems to display a BETTER understanding, he obviously understands nothing. Shame.— Heather Otto (@HAOtto5) June 10, 2019
It also took them over 500yrs. to admit Galileo was right the the Earth orbits the sun. They’re progressing — right thru to the Middle Ages!— mona lisa (@stclairartist) June 11, 2019
Even though I am not a fan of Vatican, I must say this is an excellent decision.— Naadaadi (@longonlytrade) June 10, 2019
But James… They shouldn’t exist! It is a mental issue— Josef Mirna (@JosefMirna) June 11, 2019
So, should it be granted for LGBT groups to enter the public schools and teach about sexuality and affectivity despites of the families, and so to violate the freedom of education and to harm their children's rising conscience? And should the Catholic Church encourage it?— Gabriele Marconi (@Orobriele) June 10, 2019
At a time of increased secularisation, the church has been facing a challenge as many of its teachings on sexuality are being ignored as out of date.
Pope Francis has earlier expressed an interest in outreach to LGBT followers, while adopting a definitive stance on gender identity, denouncing the fact that children are taught in schools that “everyone can choose his or her sex”.