In reaction to the Congregation’s General Assembly of Cardinals, the Vatican’s Congregation on Catholic Education released a document rebuking the progressive theory regarding gender identity being taught in Catholic schools. The newly released document noted that gender theory is contradictory to human dignity and that it eliminates the God-given differences between a man and a woman.
Monday morning, the Vatican’s Congregation on Catholic Education, the office responsible for laying down guidelines for Roman Catholic educational institutions, issued a document titled Male and Female He Created Them-Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education. This monumental document renounced the secular and progressive “gender theory” that allows human identity to be a product of individual choice.
The main goal of the document was to create a way to establish a dialogue about how gender theory is taught in Catholic educational institutions. The document explained the biblical/Catholic world view on sexuality. Effectively, it should be the guiding theory taught in Catholic schools. This proclamation is in light of the current theory being taught in many Catholic schools that are guided by postmodernism and progressive ideology. The gender theory rests on a separation between one’s biological sex and one’s gender, a distinction that the Vatican sees as opposed to faith and reason. The document is especially concerned with the postmodernist separation of sex and gender which contradicts the main Church teachings of human dignity, reciprocity, complementarity, and conjugality regarding the nature of a man and a woman. On page 7 the Vatican Congregation noted that:
“This separation is at the root of the distinctions proposed between various “sexual orientations” which are no longer are defined by the sexual difference between male and female, and can then assume other forms, determined solely by the individual, who is seen as radically autonomous. Further, the concept of gender is seen as dependent upon 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 Congregation believes that proponents and adherents of and to the gender theory confuse genuine freedom with the idea that every individual can act as if there are no principles to guide decisions relating to human sexuality. The Vatican and the Catholic Church place such an importance on doctrines like complementarity because it allows for the sacred acts of procreation and rearing a family. The document called for Catholic educators and school institutions to create an environment in which dialogue would be possible with the human sciences field of gender studies (not gender ideologues) through the three-step plan of listening, reasoning, and proposing a biblically based conception of gender. Although this document renounces gender theory, it does acknowledge past discrimination of sexual minorities. It also says that the proper way for educational institutions to teach a biblically sound conception of sexuality is to repudiate all forms of discrimination in its lessons.
The issuance of this document is a good step in reclaiming God’s teachings, the Catholic Church’s teachings, and being obedient to Christ. The Catholic Church’s teachings on gender and human sexuality per the Catechism of the Catholic Church in part three, in section two, chapter two, article 6 states that the Church teaches the concept of complementarity. This is the idea that there is an essential difference, sexually, spiritually, and biologically between men and women and this difference is rooted in scripture in the book of Genesis (Gen 1:27, Gen 1:28, and Gen 5:1-2). In lines 2232-2234 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church the Vatican Council II stated:
“Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others. Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out. In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity. Man is a person, man and woman equally so since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God.”
Not only does this document lay out a framework as to how Catholic educational institutions are to properly teach the issues of sexuality and gender in a way that follows the Church teachings as well as scripture; it also applies the Catholic concept of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is a principle of Catholic social thought that states that issues should be dealt with at the most local/immediate level of authority. In the Vatican document, the Congregation calls for this principle to be applied on an educational level in terms of the family being the primary agent of socialization on the issue of human sexuality. According to page 24 of the Vatican document, educational institutions are to carry out their responsibilities regarding the teaching of sexuality in schools in the name of the parents who must give their full consent and authorization.
Other Catholic teachings such as Humanae Vitae teach faithfulness to God’s design in section 13 of the encyclical. Faithfulness to God’s design includes the notion that individuals are not the authors of their identity, only God is and that humans are to not change the identity God created them. Although Pope Francis originally looked as though he would be less bound by Church doctrine on issues like homosexuality and gender, he has stated “[the] design of the Creator is written in nature.” And also from one of his more recent writings, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation written in 2016, Pope Francis said [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.” Statements by Pope Francis and past documents written by the Vatican Council II such as Declaration on Christian Education influenced the creation of this new Vatican document. Having more and more Catholic officials formally follow the Church’s teachings as well as the scripture can only be an asset in fighting the religious left in which many churches and church leaders have all but abandoned the commandments in the scripture.
Many on the Religious Left from mainline Protestant denominations ordain transgender clergy and sanction same-sex weddings. These include the Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Presbyterian Church (USA), some liberal Quaker conferences, Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. While the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on sexuality and same-sex marriage is well documented above, many Catholic organizations not tied to the official church and even some church officials do not follow the Church’s teachings or God’s word. That is why this document’s issuance is so critical for the Church’s future moving forward.
Following in the spirit of LGBT Pride month, Jesuit Priest and consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, Fr. James Martin, as he has in the past, stirred up controversy last week when he tweeted “happy Pride month”. In the past, Martin, like other members of the Religious Left (particularly liberal Catholics) told people not to be wary of Pride month and that persons who identify as homosexual or transgender should be invited to become Eucharistic ministers as well as parish ministers in the Catholic Church. Martin received an award from liberal Catholic groups like New Ways Ministry and he also published a book on how the Catholic Church should be more accepting of homosexual lifestyles.
Martin’s actions and the Religious Left’s actions regarding the issue of sexuality and gender are concerning due to the fact that they are bound to uphold the Church’s teachings as well as God’s word. But concerned Catholics have reason to have faith due to recent and critical actions taken by Church officials like Illinois Bishop Paprocki who is protecting the unborn. Now the Vatican Congregation is taking steps to ensure that Catholic institutions follow Church teachings. It is critical in these divided and vitriolic times to also heed the words of the Vatican document regarding compassion. Acceptance of a person does not equal agreement with their lifestyle and we must treat every single human being with compassion and respect as God calls us to do in John 13:34.