In Depth

Five things the Vatican says about gender

Catholic Church disappoints liberal followers with new ‘Male and Female He Created Them’ treatise

Modern ideas of gender fluidity have resulted in a cultural “disorientation” that threatens the existence of the family, according to a new Vatican treatise that rejects the trans movement.

The 31-page document, titled Male and Female He Created Them, retrenches the Catholic Church’s conservative positions on gender and sexuality, dashing hopes that Pope Francis might spearhead a more inclusive stance towards LGBTQ+ people.

Although the Pope has reached out to gay people, campaigners may have been unduly optimistic, says The Washington Post. The newspaper notes that in 2016, Francis decried the idea of schools teaching kids that “everyone can choose his or her sex” as “terrible”.

Criticising the new treatise - released during Pride month - the director of DignityUSA, which lobbies the Church to be more inclusive, told the Post: “This casts everything back to the Dark Ages.”

Marianne Duddy-Burke added: “I think it is incredibly insensitive, to be talking still about gender and sexuality as a choice and a momentary whim rather than a fundamental God-given identity.”

Here are five other things the new treatise, issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education, says about gender and sexuality.

Crisis in education

The Vatican document says that the world is facing “what might accurately be called an educational crisis, especially in the field of affectivity and sexuality”, reports The Guardian. The Church, which has a global following of around 1.2 billion people, claims educators who teach gender theory are seeking to “impose a single school of thought” on young people.

Gender fluidity ‘not true’

The treatise says that ideas of a fluid identity are not “based on truths of existence” and that the right to choose one’s gender is in “direct contradiction of the model of marriage as being between one man and one woman”.

‘Confused concept of freedom’

The Vatican News site says the treatise highlights that new gender theory, “especially in its most radical forms”, is based on a “confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants”. Such theory “speaks of a gradual process of denaturalisation, that is a move away from nature”, the document adds.

Tolerance of those with ‘sexual tendencies’

The Vatican does find some aspects of current gender research that “could provide points of agreement”. One is that children should be taught 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, etc)”.

‘Inestimable value’ of motherhood

The treatise also praises strands of modern gender theory that, it says, highlight the “values of femininity” and the “willingness of women to dedicate themselves in a special way to human relationships”. Motherhood has “inestimable value for the … future of society”, the Church says.

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