Mixed response to Vatican gender ‘educational crisis’ guide

The Vatican’s new gender education document “Male and female he created them” seeks to tackle what it calls “an educational crisis”.

The Holy See’s Congregation for Catholic Education says the document is intended to help guide Catholic contributions to the ongoing debate about human sexuality and to address the challenges that emerge from gender ideology.

Catholic schools must help parents teach young people that biological sex and gender are naturally fixed at birth and part of God’s plan for creation, the Congregation says.

However the document, published during LGBT Pride Month, was immediately denounced by LGBT Catholics as contributing to bigotry and violence against gay and transgender people.

Gay advocacy group New Ways Ministry says the document, which rejects the idea that people can choose or change their genders and insists on the sexual “complementarity” of men and women to make babies, would further confuse individuals questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation and at risk of self-harm.

The Congregation rejects this idea, saying the Catholic Church and those proposing a looser definition of gender can find common ground.

It says common ground can be found in “a laudable desire to combat all expressions of unjust discrimination,” in educating children to respect all people “in their peculiarity and difference,” in respecting the “equal dignity of men and women” and in promoting respect for “the values of femininity.”

While agreeing it’s important to be very careful to respect and provide care for persons who “live situations of sexual indeterminacy,” the document also points out that those who teach in the name of the Catholic Church must help young people understand that being created male and masculine or female and feminine is part of God’s plan for them.

Those who see gender as a personal choice or discovery unconnected to biological sex are, in fact, promoting a vision of the human person that is “opposed to faith and right reason,” the document says.

Not so, says Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest who wrote “Building a Bridge” – a book about improving Catholic Church outreach to the LGBT community.

“The real-life experiences of LGBT people seem entirely absent from this document.”

”We should welcome the Congregation’s call to dialogue and listening on gender, and I hope that conversation will now begin,” he says.

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