Gender theory, the notion that male and female roles have no, or merely a remote, connection with the biological sex, sets the human race and world order “against the Christian faith,” Cardinal Willem Eijk warned at a Rome conference.
Speaking May 16 at the Rome Life Forum, an annual meeting of members of the international pro-life movement, the archbishop of Utrecht, Netherlands, explained how the ideology, which has spread rapidly, is rooted in “radical feminism” and that “many organizations” inside and outside the West are now aiming to introduce what has become known as “gender equity.”
One result of enforced gender equality could be to make hospitals, doctors and others vulnerable to litigation if they oppose a particular sexual orientation or performing gender alteration surgery. Cardinal Eijk stressed the urgency to highlight the errors of gender ideology due to its “grave consequences,” not just for society and sexual morality, but also for the proclamation of the Christian faith.
In this May 16 interview with the Register, the Dutch cardinal summarizes his concerns about gender theory and discusses his views on the current moral crisis in the Church — what it means, and how to approach it.
Your Eminence, you spoke about radical feminism, contraception and their connection with gender ideology. What does link them together?
Radical feminists in the ’60s said: “Well, you know, now we have contraception and we can use it in order to redeem, so to say, women of the tyranny of maternity, of having children, of bearing children.” But you know, they did not limit it to motherhood and female biology, they extended it to all biological sexes. So they say, well, “We have now the means to liberate people from their biological sex and to give them the gender they like. They can choose whatever they like, because there is no, or only a pretty remote connection, between gender, your social role and your biological sex.”
They think it in a dualistic way, they think the body is something secondary, and that the human person is only his mind, his center, with which he thinks and which he makes autonomous decisions, and these are very complicated functions of the brain that emerged during evolution, but the rest of the body is what we have in common with animals. So, we can dispose completely of our bodies, even our biological sex.
It's a very materialistic view.
Sure, it is a materialistic view of the mind. It’s a kind of Cartesian view of man. Soul and body. The soul became the human mind, and that is explained in a very materialistic way.
You also say it’s a danger to the proclamation of the Church, the Church’s ability to proclaim the Gospel. How is it an attack on this, as well as sexual morality?
God reveals himself as a Father in the Old and the New Testament. He reveals himself as the Bridegroom of his people, Israel. The relationship between Christ and the Church is compared to the relationship between man and wife in marriage, that’s in St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.
Now these analogies lose every sense if you completely alter the sense of paternity-maternity marriage, because when you proclaim the matrimony, so-called matrimony, between people of the same sex, what is left of the analogy between God and his people and the spouses within matrimony?
And is that where we get calls for women priests, etc.?
Yes, we use these analogies, the Holy Scripture, in order to reveal something of God, the Triune God. And when we accept the theory of gender, we make it impossible for ourselves to proclaim the Christian faith. That’s the great problem we are facing now.
Moving on to the current crisis in the Church, some people are very concerned, as we’ve seen in the open letter calling on bishops to investigate Pope Francis for heresy and other initiatives. What words of comfort can you give to the faithful who are very concerned about the way the Church is going, and where do you think it’s going and what can be done about it?
There’s much confusion, because people are burdened with a lot of information. We are living in an information society, everything from the media, public opinion, to the world of advertisements, and social media. People are bombarded with this, and all these confused ideas are entering the Church. They don’t stop at the entrance of our churches, they enter the Church, so people are confused. You see also confusion about priests, our leaders, religious leaders. It happened in other times as well and it is our duty to believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding our Church also in this time. The holy Church is active in our heart when we believe and we have to follow him. And at a certain moment, Christ will change, through the Holy Spirit, the situation in the Church, as he has done many times.
We are the eldest concern in the whole world. We’ve existed for 2,000 years, and we will exist until the end of times. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, so we have to really believe that. Amid all the confusion, just pray for the guiding of the Holy Spirit and you will find the true way of Christ.
Do you think that the Holy Spirit is working through this pontificate, perhaps inadvertently, to reveal the errors, the sins of the past 50 years or so? The sins and corruption that have remained hidden in the Church have been coming to the surface such as the sexual abuse crisis. Is that the work of the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is working in this confusion, too. What is the sense of all this? What is the meaning of God with this crisis in the Church? Mostly, we only see the meaning of it, what God meant to say to us, afterward. At this moment we must live in the now, the present. We have to believe in Christ who gave us his Holy Spirit, and we have to follow what he says in our heart. We all have the Holy Spirit, have the faith of the Holy Spirit through baptism and confirmation, so we can rely on him. He will work in the magisterium as well. In what way? Sometimes that’s difficult to decipher for us, at other times it is easier, but just believe that and afterward you will see what God meant with this crisis in the Church.
Is it a time of purification?
I think it is a great purification in our Church, and perhaps we need it, such purification. The Dutch Church was still very strong in the ’40s and ’50s. But priests saw then that Catholics had more of a social relationship with the Church than a relationship based on the personal faith, on their prayers. John Paul II, as Karol Wojtyła, while he was studying in Rome, here at the Angelicum, he visited our country for a few days and he admired the organization, the mighty organization of our Church. At the same time, he said what it lacks is a life of personal prayer, of personal faith among people. When this individualism came in the ’60s, Catholics only had their social relationships with the Church, but not relationships based on faith, and therefore many left the Church, especially in the second half of the ‘60s, and afterward the decline became slower but it is still going on.
The quantity of people who are believing is getting smaller, but the quality is getting higher. People are more believing, the people who go to Church are praying people.
Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.