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“Male and Female He Created Them”: The Vatican’s document on gender theory and education

“Male and Female He Created Them”: The Vatican’s document on gender theory and education

A new Vatican document offers a response to the “educational crisis” which has arisen as a result of the growing influence of “gender theory”, and outlines an approach to dialogue that is rooted in Catholic anthropology and pastoral concern. 

Titled Male and female he created them”: Towards a path of dialogue on the question of gender theory in education, the June 10  document, written by the Congregation for Catholic Education, is divided into three sections: Listening, Reasoning, and Proposing.  

Pope Francis’ writings on gender theory are extensively cited in the document, as are the writings of Benedict XVI and Pope Saint John Paul II, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Second Vatican Council. 

I’ve chosen here to highlight, without comment, a few of the documents key passages which warrant further reflection and study: 

“The Christian vision of anthropology sees sexuality as a fundamental component of one’s personhood. It is one of its mode of being, of manifesting itself, communicating with others, and of feeling, expressing and living human love. Therefore, our sexuality plays an integral part in the development of our personality and in the process of its education.” Pg. 4 

“In this cultural context [of a gender theory which stresses the determination of the individual to determine his or her own sexual tendencies, and the separation of gender and sex], it is clear that sex and gender are no longer synonyms or interchangeable concepts, since they are used to describe two different realities. Sex is seen as defining which of the two biological categories (deriving from the original feminine-masculine dyad) one be- longed to. Gender, on the other hand, would be the way in which the differences between the sexes are lived in each culture. The problem here does not lie in the distinction between the two terms, which can be interpreted correctly, but in the separation of sex from gender. This separation is at the root of the distinctions proposed between various “sexual orientations” which are no longer 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).” Pg. 8 

“Gender theory (especially in its most radical forms) speaks of a gradual process of denaturalisation, that is a move away from nature and towards an absolute option for the decision of the feelings of the human subject. In this understanding of things, the view of both sexuality identity and the family become subject to the same ‘liquidity’ and ‘fluidity’ that characterize other aspects of post-modern culture, often founded on nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants, or momentary desires provoked by emotional impulses and the will of the individual, as opposed to anything based on the truths of existence.” Pg. 11 

“In practice, the advocacy for the different identities often presents them as being of completely equal value compared to each other. This, however, actually negates the relevance of each one. This has particular importance for the question of sexual difference. In fact, the generic concept of “non-discrimination” often hides an ideology that denies the difference as well as natural reciprocity that exists between men and women.” Pg. 11 

“The formation of one’s identity is itself based on the principle of otherness, since it is precisely the direct encounter between another “you” who is not me that enables me to recognise the essence of the “I” who is me. Difference, in fact, is a condition of all cognition, including cognition of one’s identity. In the family, knowledge of one’s mother and father allows the child to construct his or her own sexual identity and difference. Psychoanalytic theory demonstrates the tri-polar value of child-parent relationships, showing that sexual identity can only fully emerge in the light of the synergetic comparison that sexual differentiation creates.” Pg. 14 

“It is precisely within the nucleus of the family unit that children can learn how to recognise the value and the beauty of the differences between the two sexes, along with their equal dignity, and their reciprocity at a biological, functional, psychological and social level.” Pg. 21 

“[T]he path of dialogue, which involves listening, reasoning and proposing, appears the most effective way towards a positive transformation of concerns and misunderstandings, as well as a resource that in itself can help develop a network of relationships that is both more open and more human. In contrast, although ideologically-driven approaches to the delicate questions around gender proclaim their respect for diversity, they actually run the risk of viewing such difference as static realities and end up leaving them isolated and disconnected from each other.” Pg. 29 

“The culture of dialogue does not in any way contradict the legitimate aspirations of Catholic schools to maintain their own vision of human sexuality, in keeping with the right of families to freely base the education of their children upon an integral anthropology, capable of harmonizing the human person’s physical, psychic and spiritual identity. In fact, a democratic state cannot reduce the range of education on offer to a single school of thought, all the more so in relation to this extremely delicate subject, which is concerned on the one hand with the fundamentals of human nature, and on the other with natural rights of parents to freely choose any educational model that accords with the dignity of the human person.” Pg. 30 

To read the document in its entirety, click here 

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