In a powerful address in the Vatican Thursday, Pope Francis reaffirmed the importance of sexual differentiation, citing the “blessed difference” between men and women as revealed in the biblical book of Genesis.
The Pope went on to condemn recent attempts to “completely erase this difference,” which he denounced as a “unisex utopia.”
Addressing the Pontifical Academy for Life, Francis said that recent attempts to “reopen the way for the dignity of the person by radically neutralizing the difference between the sexes, and thus the relationship between man and woman, is misguided.”
This is not the first time that the Pope has attacked what he calls “gender ideology,” which he considers to be part of the “global war” to destroy marriage.
Last fall, Francis said that today we are witnessing a “global war to destroy marriage” in which gender theory places a key role, fighting “not with weapons, but with ideas.”
The Pope has criticized the LGBT lobby for its efforts to impose same-sex marriage and theories of gender fluidity that separate gender from biological sexual differences.
Earlier last year, Francis published a lengthy teaching letter on marriage and the family called “The Joy of Love” (Amoris Laetitia), in which he underlined the unique value of both motherhood and fatherhood, while denouncing the “legal deconstruction of the family” through the acceptance of same-sex marriage.
In that same letter, Francis denounced gender theory for its denial of “the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman,” and for its dream of “a society without sexual differences.”
“An appreciation of our body as male or female,” he said, is “necessary for our own self-awareness in an encounter with others different from ourselves.” Efforts to cancel out sexual differences based in anatomy are a symptom of a sick society that “no longer knows how to deal with it,” he wrote.
In his address in the Vatican Thursday, Francis returned to these themes, criticizing attempts to render sexual differences “irrelevant,” when in fact they are constitutive of the human person and society.
Appealing to the book of Genesis, Francis said that each one of us is “a creature willed and loved by God for our own sake,” and not just “an amalgamation of cells selected and well organized in the course of the evolution of life.”
“The biblical creation account must be read over and over,” the Pope said, “in order to appreciate the breadth and the depth of God’s gesture of love that entrusts creation and history to the alliance between man and woman.”
“It’s not merely a question of equal opportunities or mutual recognition,” Francis said.
Moreover, men and women are called to work together because “neither of the two—neither the man by himself or woman by herself—is capable of assuming this responsibility” for the world, politics, culture, the economy and even the Church.
Together they were created, in their blessed difference; together they sinned, by their presumption of replacing God; together with the grace of Christ they return to God’s presence, to honor and care for the world and the history that He has entrusted to them,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome