Willem Jacobus Eijk, Cardinal Archbishop of Utrecht writes the following:
Gender theory seriously contradicts the nature of man and has serious implications for the proclamation of the foundations of the Christian faith by undermining the role of the father, the mother, marriage, and the relationship between children and parents. Many believers and bishops feel that a document setting out the Catholic Church’s vision is urgently needed.
With the exception of his insistence on the male only priesthood, I largely agree with his statement. And fervently hope that the Roman Catholic Church produces that encyclical, posthaste!
The basic idea of gender theory, i.e. that the roles of men and women (gender) can be completely separated from biological sex, derives from the dominant view of man in our current society. It generally limits the human person to his or her consciousness (the mind), with its ability to think and make autonomous decisions, which was gradually made possible within the framework of evolution by the development of very complicated biochemical and neurophysiological processes in the brain. According to this view of man, the body would only be the means by which the person (restricted to consciousness) can express himself. This gives the human person a very broad right to dispose of their body, including their biological sexuality.
On the contrary, the Catholic Church teaches that, “though made of body and soul, man is one” (Gaudium et spes, No. 14). The body, including the reproductive and sexual organs, is not something secondary or accessory, but belongs to the essence of man and therefore, like man, is an end in itself and not merely a means that man can use for any purpose. John Paul II writes in his encyclical Veritatis splendor (No. 48) that the human body is not a raw material with which man can freely do as he pleases.
The papal magisterium rejects gender theory, but has so far only done so in a cursory manner. In his Christmas address to the curia on 21 December 2012, Benedict XVI noted that in the context of gender theory, man “denies his own nature and decides that it is not given to him as a pre-established fact, but that he himself creates it”. Pope Francis has also said several times that gender theory is incompatible with human nature and the Christian view of gender difference. In the encyclical Laudato si‘, he emphasises that a true ecology also requires respect for sexual gender difference: “Learning to accept one’s body, to care for it and to respect its meanings is essential for a true human ecology. Appreciating one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is also necessary in order to be able to recognise oneself in the encounter with the other who is different from oneself. In this way, it is possible to joyfully accept the specific gift of the other, the work of God the creator, and be mutually enriched. Therefore, an attitude that claims to erase sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it is unhealthy” (No. 155). See also Amoris laetitia, No. 56.
In an address to the participants of the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy for Life on 6 October 2017, he warned the audience against the risks of the ideology of gender. “The biological and psychic manipulation of sexual difference, which biomedical technology lets us glimpse as being completely available as free choice – whereas it is not! – thus risks dismantling the source of energy that nourishes the covenant of man and woman and makes it creative and fruitful”.
“Children know that their mothers and fathers love them, and they trust their guidance. Now children are told that their parents’ judgment about them should not be trusted — that parents may have been mistaken from birth about ‘who’ the child really is.”
Although not a Roman Catholic, as a Christian I affirm their view of body and soul integration. And with them I recognize the creational givens of “sexual identity” over and above “gender identity.”
To understand why the Church warns about gender ideology, it is critical to examine the deceptive anthropology underlying gender ideology. Perhaps the easiest way to understand the anthropological claims made by gender ideology is to look at the “gender-affirming” or “transgender” resources widely used in schools, universities and popular culture to explain “who we are.” Colorful cartoonish graphics like the genderbread person or the gender unicorn depict androgynous figures with labels proposing new categories of identity. Lesson plans designed by activist organizations teach students the vocabulary and core concepts of this new belief system that conflicts with Christian anthropology.
Rather than recognizing the truth that each person, created by God as male or female, is a unity of body and soul, gender ideology claims “the person” is a random assortment of dimensions: “gender identity” (self-perception, regardless of the body), “gender expression” (how you present yourself to others), “sex assigned at birth” (a guess about your identity made by doctors and parents), sexual attraction or emotional attraction (feelings and desires), and anatomical parts (body parts that can be replaced at will). Each of these categories is typically represented as a “spectrum” or as fluid and changeable.
These graphics encourage the child to decide his identity for himself, using these categories to shape his understanding of “who he is.” According to gender ideology, the defining or core aspect of identity of the person is “gender identity.” Human Rights Campaign’s Welcoming Schools “LGBTQ inclusivity” program, for example, describes “gender identity” as “who you know yourself to be in your heart and mind” and teaches children that “our bodies do not determine our gender identity.” This directly contradicts the truth, known by reason and revealed by God, that each of us is created with a unity of body and soul, embodied as male or female. The Catechism of the Catholic Church uses the term “sexual identity” to describe embodiment as male or female and teaches that “everyone must acknowledge and accept his [or her] sexual identity” (No. 2333).
Children are taught to believe that because identity is self-defined, there is an infinite array of gender identities. In Portland’s public schools, for example, social emotional learning lessons (SEL) instruct children that there are as many different “gender identities” as there are stars in the sky. Every person has a “gender identity,” and only the individual child can say what his or her identity is. The child who declares a transgender identity must be believed and affirmed and cannot be challenged. According to gender ideology, it is normal to be “transgender” (an umbrella term for a person whose “gender identity” does not align with his body), just as it is normal to be “cisgender” (a person whose “gender identity” matches his body). This undermines the child’s natural knowledge of human nature, that human beings are embodied as either male or female, and in its place substitutes a new “binary” premised on the belief that some persons are born in the wrong body. In contrast, the Catholic Church teaches that the person is created at conception as a male or female person, with a unity of a human soul and either a male or female body. In other words, God creates you, uniting your soul with your male or female body.
But how does a child discern his or her “gender identity”? The child is taught to compare his or her own behavior and feelings to exaggerated stereotypes of what it means to be male or female. Interests, feelings and preferences are presented as reliable indicators of “gender identity,” while the sexed body is not…..
“What is true of creation as a whole is true of human nature in particular: there is an order in human nature that we are called to respect. In fact, human nature deserves utmost respect since humanity occupies a singular place in the created order, being created in the image of God (Gn 1:27). To find fulfillment as human persons, to find true happiness, we must respect that order. We did not create human nature; it is a gift from a loving Creator. Nor do we ‘own’ our human nature, as if it were something that we are free to make use of in any way we please. Thus, genuine respect for human dignity requires that decisions about the use of technology be guided by genuine respect for this created order.”
— “Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body,” March 20, 2023
Wisdom from Pope Francis
“It needs to be emphasized that ‘biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated.’ … It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality. Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent. Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created.”
From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Issued this week.
Regarding treatments for what is termed ‘gender dysphoria‘ or ‘gender incongruence.’”
“These interventions involve the use of surgical or chemical techniques that aim to exchange the sex characteristics of a patient’s body for those of the opposite sex or for simulations thereof,” they wrote. “In the case of children, the exchange of sex characteristics is prepared by the administration of chemical puberty blockers, which arrest the natural course of puberty and prevent the development of some sex characteristics in the first place.”
The bishops explained that these interventions ARE NOT morally justified. The two situations where it’s okay to use technology on the human body is:
1) to fix something that’s not working right, or 2) to sacrifice a part of the body for the benefit of the whole body.
“Instead … these interventions are intended to transform the body so as to make it take on as much as possible the form of the opposite sex, contrary to the natural form of the body,” the bishops said. “They are attempts to alter the fundamental order and finality of the body and to replace it with something else.”
“Such interventions, thus, do not respect the fundamental order of the human person as an intrinsic unity of body and soul, with a body that is sexually differentiated….Bodiliness is a fundamental aspect of human existence, and so is the sexual differentiation of the body.”
Also they offered guidance for Catholic health care.
“Catholic health care services must not perform interventions, whether surgical or chemical, that aim to transform the sexual characteristics of a human body into those of the opposite sex or take part in the development of such procedure,” they said. “They must employ all appropriate resources to mitigate the suffering of those who struggle with gender incongruence, but the means used must respect the fundamental order of the human body.”
“Only by using morally appropriate means do healthcare providers show full respect for the dignity of each human person.”