No one can accuse Pope Francis of dragging Roman Catholicism into irrelevancy. A lightning rod for controversy, the current pope has been praised by many progressives as the harbinger of a new, “enlightened” Church. Conservatives, on the other hand, especially conservatives within the Roman Catholic Church, have bemoaned this pontiff’s seeming willingness to undermine long-held Catholic shibboleths. However, Pope Francis’ teachings on transgenderism should hearten conservatives while causing progressives to wonder what’s happened to their new hero.
According to the independent Catholic news organization Crux, “In one of his strongest defenses of traditional Catholic teaching on relations between the sexes to date, Pope Francis on Thursday insisted that modern assaults on the notion of intrinsic biological differences between men and women threaten both human dignity and the development of persons and societies.”
Pope Francis was speaking to the Pontifical Academy for Life’s general assembly when he made his remarks. This year’s general assembly had as its theme, “Accompany life: New responsibilities in the technological era.”
Wrapping up his speech, the pope added that the two God-ordained genders “were created, in their blessed difference; together they have sinned, for their presumption to replace God; together, with the grace of Christ, they return to God’s presence, to honor the care of the world and the history that He has entrusted to them.”
This isn’t the first time that Pope Francis has taken on the progressive dogma that gender is fluid, but his wording this time makes it harder for progressives to hijack the papacy in the service of their overall agenda. Crux pointed this out by adding,
“In effect, the pope’s message amounted to a strong re-affirmation of the traditional Catholic position that differences between men and women are rooted in nature and ultimately reflect the plan of God for human life.
‘The biologic and psychological manipulation of sexual difference, which biomedical technology allows one to see as open to free choice – which it’s not! – is thus likely to dismantle the source of energy that nourishes the alliance of man and woman and makes it creative and fruitful,’ Francis said.”
Predictably, progressives are not pleased with Pope Francis’ affirmation that transgender is not only harmful but also outside God’s created order.
Speaking to HuffPost, Francis DeBernardo, the director of the pro-lgbt Catholic organization New Ways Ministry, complained that “the pontiff’s comments on Thursday underscore his misunderstanding of transgender identity.”
“By referring to transgender people’s desires to transition as ‘manipulation’ and a ‘free choice’ Pope Francis shows that he does not understand that for transgender people, a transition is a discovery and affirmation of who God created them to be.
DeBernardo noted that, for many, gender isn’t solely based on biology. ‘It also includes psychological, emotional, cultural, and spiritual dimensions,’ he said. ‘To say that transgender people are acting against the plan of God is actually itself a rejection of God’s plan for these sacred human beings.'”
Pope Francis will continue to ruffle feathers, both inside the Roman Catholic Church and without. For now, conservatives can take heart that he appears committed to defending a Biblical definition of gender identity.