VATICAN CITY — Despite the significant differences among the 13 small groups that are discussing the working document at the synod on the family, the majority are in agreement that “gender ideology” poses a serious challenge for families in the modern world.
Seven of the bishops’ working groups (which are divided by language) mention gender ideology as one of their major concerns and suggest that the synod’s working document does not sufficiently address the issue.
Gender theory or ideology is the idea that one’s gender is chosen and need not correspond with one’s biological sex.
Pope Francis has tackled the issue at least once during his series of general audiences dedicated to family.
“I ask myself if the so-called ‘gender theory’ is not, at the same time, an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference, because it no longer knows how to confront it,” the Pope said at an April 15 general audience this year. “Yes, we risk taking a step backwards. The removal of [sexual] difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution.”
The Holy Father’s concern is shared by bishops at the synod.
The small group known as “French B” noted in its first report that “a wide discussion within our group focused on gender theory. In particular, it was underlined that gender theory has the character of an ideology when it is spread, or better imposed, by some international organizations.”
The group referred to pressure exerted by some international bodies, making financial aid dependent on the adoption of regulations based on gender ideology. This phenomenon has been denounced by numerous African prelates during the synod.
However, concerns about gender ideology were not limited to the prelates from Africa. In Italy, bishops have been constantly fighting over the past year against attempts to introduce textbooks into the nation’s schools that present gender theory as a fact.
It was no surprise, therefore, that the issue was also raised in two Italian small groups.
“For what concerns the anthropological and cultural context, it seemed necessary (that the synod text) would more widely refer to the risks of gender ideology, as well to the negative influence it has on scholastic programs of many countries,” said small group “Italian A.”
Small group “Italian B” presented a specific amendment on the issue, saying, “The group more clearly emphasized the ideological character of gender ideology, in order to lend families a hand so that they can take back their original right to educate children in a responsible dialogue with other educative agencies.”
Meanwhile, the group “English D” issued its critique that “there were a number of elements missing” from the working document, including “a serious reflection on gender ideology.”
The “Spanish B” group mentioned the challenge of gender ideology among “the ongoing anthropological changes” that are “deeper than what we can imagine.”
Also delving into the issue was the group “French C,” which underscored gender ideology as one of its top two concerns.
“We are concerned by the uprise of a new ideology that is often called gender ideology,” the group stated.
It said that “several gender theories have been developed in sociology and philosophy, with the attempt to analyze some human and social phenomenon.” But “when these theories are taken as an absolute, they tend to create a unique thought that aims to sweep away everything else.”
The group concluded, “While [these theories] try to impose a view that denies the relation between sexual identity and the sex of individuals as we are, they dissolve families, parenthood, human love in its more noble and humanizing part.”
Andrea Gagliarducci is Catholic News Agency’s Vatican observer.