Vatican document addresses the topic of gender ideology in schools
By Barb Szyszkiewicz
A new document from the Vatican’s Congregation on Catholic Education addresses the topic of gender ideology and its challenges for Catholic educators.
Titled “Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a path of dialogue on the question of gender theory in education,” the 31-page document, penned earlier this year, outlines Church teaching on the complementarity of the sexes, a discussion of Christian anthropology, and an affirmation of the dignity of all human beings.
Gender theory (especially in its most radical forms) speaks of a gradual process of denaturalisation, that is a move away from nature and towards an absolute option for the decision of the feelings of the human subject. In this understanding of things, the view of both sexuality identity and the family become subject to the same ‘liquidity’ and ‘fluidity’ that characterize other aspects of post-modern culture, often founded on nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants, or momentary desires provoked by emotional impulses and the will of the individual, as opposed to anything based on the truths of existence (19).
The authors, Giuseppe Cardinal Versaldi (Prefect) and Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani (Secretary) point out the role of the Catholic school in supplementing the primary educators of children, the family:
The Catholic school should be an educating community in which the human person can express themself and grow in his or her humanity, in a process of relational dialogue, interacting in a constructive way, exercising tolerance, understanding different points of view and creating trust in an atmosphere of authentic harmony (40).
[Education] requires language that is appropriate as well as measured. It must above all take into account that, while children and young people have not yet reached full maturity, they are preparing with great interest to experience all aspects of life. … [in] the face of a continuous bombardment of messages that are ambiguous and unclear, and which end up creating emotional disorientation as well as impeding psycho-relational maturity (42).
Noting the breakdown in the family unit that is prevalent in society today, among other societal challenges, the document states,
the family must not be left to face the challenges of educating the young on its own. The Church, for its part, continues to support families and young people within communities that are open and welcoming. Schools and local communities are called, in particular, to carry out an important mission here (44).
The authors conclude,
Catholic educators are called to go beyond all ideological reductionism or homologizing relativism by remaining faithful to their own gospel-based identity (54).
Read the full document: “Male and Female He Created Them.”
The Vatican News reports on the release of this document.
Our own Rachel Padilla, a Colorado-based campus minister, offered strategies on discussing issues of gender and sexuality in the Catholic classroom in a March article.
Barb Szyszkiewicz is managing editor at Today’s Catholic Teacher. Learn more about her work at FranciscanMom.com.
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