The U.S. Catholic bishops (USCCB) have issued a teaching document to counter the rising tide of gender ideology.
Geared for Catholic educators, ministers and parents, “Gender Ideology: Select Teaching Resources” draws on teaching from the current and previous two pontificates, the Church’s catechism, and documents from the Vatican and the USCCB.
Released through the bishops’ “Marriage – Unique for a Reason” initiative, the prelates call their gender ideology document a simple resource to address gender ideology (or gender theory). In its introduction, they forthrightly identify gender ideology as “a position on anthropology (who a human being is) that is in conflict with the Christian one.”
The seven-page document cites six passages from Pope Francis, each clearly criticizing gender ideology.
They quote the pope from his meeting with families in Manila in January of this year: “Let us be on guard against colonization by new ideologies. There are forms of ideological colonization which are out to destroy the family.”
Continuing in this vein, the Holy Father is cited in the document from March at his address in Naples, Italy: “The crisis of the family is a societal fact. There are also ideological colonializations of the family, different paths and proposals in Europe and also coming from overseas. Then, there is the mistake of the human mind – gender theory – creating so much confusion.”
“For example, I ask myself, if the so-called gender theory is not, at the same time, an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it,” the Holy Father stated in a general audience on man and woman in April of this year, also included in the document. “Yes, we risk taking a step backwards. The removal of difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution.”
Pope Francis extensively criticized the erroneous concept of changing gender and its violation of natural law in his widely-recounted encyclical letter Laudato Si’, which the U.S. bishops also include in their resource document:
Human ecology also implies another profound reality: the relationship between human life and the moral law, which is inscribed in our nature and is necessary for the creation of a more dignified environment. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of an ‘ecology of man’, based on the fact that ‘man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will’. It is enough to recognize that our body itself establishes us in a direct relationship with the environment and with other living beings. The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.
From the Catechism, the bishops’ document confirms how both men and women are to “acknowledge and accept” their sexual identity, and also that God’s design of complementarity and spiritual difference between the genders is meant to foster marriage and the family.
“By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other,” it states, citing paragraph 2393 of the Catechism. “Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.”
The bishops’ document also says the body shares in the dignity of the image of God, delves into modesty, and explicitly addresses the immorality of gender reassignment surgery with the Catechism’s paragraph 2297, which states, “Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.”
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