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Today the ugliest danger is gender ideology, says Pope

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 03/01/24

The Pope confided that he asked for studies to be done on gender ideology, which he defines as a "bad disease of our time."

“It is very important that there is this meeting between men and women because today the ugliest danger is gender ideology, that cancels out differences” said Pope Francis as he inaugurated an international conference on the vocation of men and women at the Vatican on March 1, 2024. Since the beginning of his pontificate, the Pope has regularly denounced “gender ideology,” which he sees as being promoted through “ideological colonization.” 

Early this morning, in the Vatican Synod Hall, the Pope introduced the international conference titled “Man and Woman, Image of God. For an anthropology of vocations“.  Affected by a cold, the Pontiff asked a secretary to read his prepared speech, but he did

a few words at the beginning to tell the participants of his concern for the current “anthropological crisis.”

Describing “gender ideology” as a “bad disease of our time,” the Pope explained that “to erase difference is to erase humanity. Man and woman, on the other hand, stand in fruitful ‘tension.'”

He confided that he has asked a doctor-cardinal to seriously study this ideology. (He could be speaking about Dutch Cardinal Wim Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, renowned for his doctrinal conservatism, who suggested that the Pope write an encyclical on the subject.)

First day of the conference Man and Woman, Image of God. For an anthropology of vocations at the Vatican in March 2024

A recurring subject

Last year, Pope Francis explained to the Argentine daily La Nacion that he was not working on a new encyclical on the subject. However, last January, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández told the Spanish press agency EFE that the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith – which he heads – was preparing a document on human dignity. According to him, this text will offer “severe criticism” of moral issues such as “sex change, surrogacy, [and] gender ideologies.”

Since the beginning of his pontificate, the Pope has regularly warned against an “ideology” that “dilutes differences.”

“The richness of men and women and all mankind is the tension of differences,” he explained in the interview with La Nacion, for example. However, he also emphasized that he always made a distinction “between pastoral work with people of different sexual orientation and gender ideology. They are two different things.”

In 2016, on the plane back from his trip to Baku, Azerbaijan, he sharply criticized the “indoctrination of gender theory,” particularly through the “ideological colonization” present in school books.

Three years later, the Congregation for Catholic Education published an around 30-page document on the question of gender. The Vatican’s aim was to provide Christian families and educators with elements of discernment in the face of an “educational crisis” concerning the themes of “affectivity and sexuality.”

“The Pope spoke about it spontaneously”

“It’s a scary ideology. The Pope spoke about it spontaneously today. It shows his concern,” Cardinal Marc Ouellet, former prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, told I.MEDIA. The 79-year-old Canadian cardinal presides over the Center for Research and Anthropology of Vocations(CRAV), which organized the conference. 

Over the course of two days, the participants intend to explore the foundations of Christian anthropology in response to socio-cultural changes in human identity. Issues such as “anti-speciesism” and the promotion of a “vocational culture in Christian-inspired schools” will be discussed.

The importance of fulfilling one’s vocation

In the speech Pope Francis had prepared, and that was read out by a secretary, he highlighted the importance of discovering and fulfilling one’s vocation as a way to respond “to the desire for human fulfillment and happiness that dwells in our hearts.” 

“Man and woman are created by God and are the image of the Creator; that is, they carry within themselves a desire for eternity and happiness that God himself has sown in their hearts and which they are called to realize through a specific vocation,” the Pope explained. 

“That is why there dwells in us a healthy inner tension that we must never stifle. […] The life of each one of us, no one excluded, is not a bump in the road; our being in the world is not merely by chance, but we are part of a plan of love and we are invited to go out of ourselves and fulfill it, for ourselves and for others.”

However, the Pope highlighted this “plan” is not something imposed on one’s life from some supernatural source but an affirmation of who one is, as a “response” to a “call.”

“I always like to remember that this is not an external task entrusted to our lives, but a dimension that involves our very nature, the structure of our being man-woman in the image and likeness of God. Not only have we been entrusted with a mission, but each and every one of us is a mission,” he wrote, underlining the importance of these kinds of conference to reflect on the meaning of a vocation. 

Pope FrancisVatican
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