Vatican document says no to current trends in gender ideology

The Vatican has responded to the ongoing debate on human sexuality with a new document rejecting some of the current interpretations of gender ideology.

'Male and Female He Created Them' has been issued to Catholic schools by the Congregation for Catholic Education.  Its release has fallen during Pride month, which many schools in the UK will have been marking

The document speaks of "an educational crisis" around sexuality and warns of "challenges emerging from varying forms of an ideology that is given the general name 'gender theory', which 'denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman'" and instead regards them as "merely the product of historical and cultural conditioning". 

It says that such an identity will gradually "become the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time" and that the current cultural climate will contribute to "the destabilization of the family". 

The document says that young people should be taught to respect others and not to bully people for their differences but says more dialogue is needed on the issue of gender identity. 

"While the ideologies of gender claim to respond [...] 'to what are at times understandable aspirations', they also seek 'to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised', and thus preclude dialogue," the document states, adding that people should be "open to listen, to reason and to propose", especially to the findings of research into gender identity.

The document goes on to say that gender theory "especially in its most radical forms, speaks of a gradual process of denaturalisation, that is a move away from nature", and that concepts such as "sexual identity" and "family" are becoming increasingly based on "a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants".

Catholic journalist Caroline Farrow, who has campaigned for a traditional understanding of gender, said the guidance was "extremely timely". 

"This unequivocal guidance from the Vatican is extremely welcome. UK Catholic schools need to take note and ditch the Stonewall guidance. Catholic teaching is very clear," she said. 

The document has been a issued a time when the Church of England has also been grappling with gender ideology.  Its recent guidance on transgender services was met with outcry and many traditionalists have welcomed the Vatican's stance, wishing to see something similar from their own bishops. 

Controversially, the transgender guidance was issued before the completion of the Church of England's Living in Love and Faith consultation process on human sexuality. 

Church of England priest Peter Ould said: "The Vatican's new document on gender theory offers a welcome corrective to the assumption that particular progressive views on sex and gender are normative.

"By offering a Christian vision to Catholic schools, there is an implicit challenge to the Church of England to reflect on how it guides the educational establishments it is responsible for.

"As we move forward with the Living in Love and Faith process in the Church of England, it is important that we approach issues of sexuality and gender in a way that is free from dogmatic and biased influence and coercion, so we can develop a robust biblical and pastoral theology in this area."