On August 2, Pope Francis said a few words about gender identity—words that are not at all new with him. In a meeting with bishops that day, he observed:
In Europe, America, Latin America, Africa, and in some countries of Asia, there are genuine forms of ideological colonization taking place. And one of these—I will call it clearly by its name—is [the ideology of] “gender.”
[Which is, in fact, an artificial construct. The academics and ideologues have co-opted a word that, in its normative meaning, refers to grammar. I find I always need to point that out.]
Today children—children!—are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. Why are they teaching this? Because the books are provided by the persons and institutions that give you money. These forms of ideological colonization are also supported by influential countries. And this terrible!
[The pope is not winning friends on the left by saying any of this.]
In a conversation with Pope Benedict, who is in good health and very perceptive, he said to me: “Holiness, this is the age of sin against God the Creator.” [That is, people are in rebellion against the design of human creation, man and woman.] He is very perceptive. God created man and woman; God created the world in a certain way … and we are doing the exact opposite.
[Note how Pope Francis announces his consistency with, not his departure from, Pope Benedict XVI.]
Should Have Seen Just What Was There
Now, the pope has said this kind of thing so often in the past that I marvel that people marvel. Dear heavens, the pope is Catholic. What ever shall I do? How can this be? How can I go on? I have, dear reader, documented such papal statements on this wery blog.
- I documented it here, on February 23, 2015, when the pope said the same thing in a papal interview in flight from Manila to Rome. (All anyone talked about was breeding like rabbits.)
Ideological colonization: I’ll give just one example that I saw myself. Twenty years ago, in 1995, a minister of education asked for a large loan to build schools for the poor. They gave it to her on the condition that in the schools there would be a book for the children of a certain level. It was a school book, a book prepared well, didactically, in which gender theory was taught.
This woman needed the money, but that was the condition. Clever woman, she said yes and did it again and again; and it went ahead, and that’s how it was achieved. This is ideological colonization. They introduce to the people an idea that has nothing to do with the nation; yes, with groups of people, but not with the nation. And they colonize the people with an idea that changes, or wants to change, a mentality or a structure.
During the synod, the African bishops complained about this, which was the same story, certain loans in exchange for certain conditions. I say only these things that I have seen.
Why do I say ideological colonization? Because they take, they really take the need of a people to seize an opportunity to enter and grow strong—with the children. But it is not new. The same was done by the dictatorships of the last century. They entered with their own doctrine. … Think of the Hitler Youth.
Oh, the leftists did not like that Hitler Youth comparison! At the Daily Screech, Dr. Candida Moss was shocked that the pope did not agree with liberal academics like Dr. Moss! The pope was “recycling centuries of misogyny” and “dissing women”!
- I documented it again, here, on June 25, 2015, when the pope said the same thing in Laudato Si 155. (All anyone talked about was the pope’s belief in global warming and his castigation of air conditioners.)
It is enough to recognize that our body itself establishes us in a direct relationship with the environment and with other living beings. The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. … It is not a healthy attitude which would seek “to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.”
The Washington Post did not miss any of that. Sarah Pulliam Bailey documented it all and predicted that such passages would be “read closely.”
- And I documented it here, on April 11, 2016, when the pope said the same thing in Amoris Laetitia 56 & 285. (All anyone talked about was communion for the divorced and remarried.)
56. Yet another challenge is posed by the various forms of an ideology of gender that “denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programmes and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time.”
285. Beyond the understandable difficulties which individuals may experience, the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created, for “thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation… An appreciation of our body as male or female is also necessary for our own self-awareness in an encounter with others different from ourselves.
A site called “Dignity USA” found “no joy” in any of that. “We had hoped for much more,” it lamented balefully. “Francis simply reiterates the long-standing teachings of the Church. There is no flexibility.”
Pope upholds teachings of the Church. When will these horrors end?
You Couldn’t Be That Man I Adored
And yet in spite of all that papal consistency—documented here on this wery blog—the New York Times reports that “leaders of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups expressed dismay” at the pope’s words.
They did? Why? What had they expected? Why do they continue to delude themselves? They’ve noted this very kind of thing before. They have no excuse to claim shock or dashed hopes. But they do; again and again, every time, they do.
“It is very troubling that the pope would say this,” cried Marianne Duddy-Burke. She is the executive director of Dignity USA—the wery same Dignity USA that had no joy last April. Do they have amnesia? Whence this expectation of some imminent departure? Surely it can not come from the actual record of history, available to anyone with a computer and a search engine and access to the Vatican and Catholic publications. (Or to the few, fewer every day, that lack an ax and a grindstone.) Dignity USA could have looked through its wery own archives, and the previous shocked words of Ms. Duddy-Burke herself.
But according to the troubled Ms. Duddy-Burke, the pope’s statement
also shows that he doesn’t understand the danger that his words can mean for gender-nonconforming people, particularly those who live in countries with laws or cultural pressures that put these people at risk for violence.
That is, I am afraid to say, incoherent. Does Ms. Duddy-Burke really think that the pope is advocating violence? Does she really think that there are people sitting around waiting for the pope to say something about gender identity that they can then use as an excuse to go on a rampage in clubs or bathrooms? That, if only the pope would make a bold departure on these points, such people would suddenly experience a wave of brotherly love, hold hands, and sing Jackie DeShannon? LGBT individuals will not be safe unless the pope changes Church teaching? Is that what Ms. Duddy-Burke is asking me to believe? This is strange.
“Francis, who is Argentine,” the Times goes on, “also did not offer examples of classrooms using such a curriculum.”
What does him being Argentine have to do with any of this? And the Times wants examples? They doubt this? Well, the pope in fact gave one during his flight from Manila to Rome, if anyone had been paying attention to more than just bunny rabbits. But here’s another: Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. According to a plan for updating the schools’ seventh- through twelfth-grade mandatory health curriculum:
Emphasis will be placed on an understanding that there is a broader, boundless, and fluid spectrum of sexuality that is developed throughout a lifetime. Sexual orientation and gender identity terms will be discussed with focus on appreciation for individual differences.
I mean, Google’s a handy, handy thing. Perhaps the pope means for us to use it. Perhaps he expects the media to have access to such things right at their wery fingertips. I know Dignity USA lost its archives and suffered tragic memory loss. But has the New York Times been robbed of all its resources for fact-checking? It must demand that the pope’s audiences come complete with citations and a bibliography?
“But church analysts,” the Times continues,
say [the pope] has long harbored resentment over so-called ideological colonialism, the notion that international groups offer aid to developing nations contingent upon the adoption of Western values.
This is true, but I would hardly call gender ideology “Western values.” In fact, it is opposed to “Western values.” If I be wrong about this, can I ask the Times to explain for us where the notion of gender fluidity has its origin in Western culture and thought? The last I checked, it is a novelty. Call me crazy.
“It’s not all that clear who he’s mad at and what’s upsetting him,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior analyst for The National Catholic Reporter. [Fr. Reese is himself a touch mystified by all this odd and unexpected consistency from the pope. Nothing like this has ever been.] “But there’s something underlying there. And I think it’s primarily that he feels that this kind of stuff is being pushed down their throats.”
Well, yes, some people do have a strange objection to being told what they must think, particularly on contentious issues like this one. It’s not like teaching people their times tables.
Illusion Never Changed Into Something Real
“The pontiff’s latest remarks,” the Times continues,
represented a letdown for gay rights groups that were encouraged by the pope’s conciliatory remarks in June after the massacre of gay patrons at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Francis said at the time that gays were owed an apology for past mistreatment by Christians.
Sure; I don’t doubt that there’s been a “letdown.” But there are two separate issues going on here. Of course no one should gun down those who are LGBT. We should love them and treat them well. Christians should repent and apologize every time they fail in this regard.
But that is not at all the same as saying that their behavior, or their thinking, is good and correct.
That the Times, and LGBT leaders, can confuse the two, helps to explain their muddled thinking, and their tendency to indulge in illusion with regard to Pope Francis.
One naturally wonders, however, why such wild hopes were never placed in Pope Benedict XVI, who as Cardinal Ratzinger wrote these words in his letter to bishops “On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”.
It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.
And in the very next paragraph, Ratzinger added:
But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground. [That would include gender ideology.]
That Pope Francis can say both, just as Ratzinger said both, is a mark of coherence and consistency with his predecessor in the Chair of Peter. Where the illusion of imminent departure comes from, in the specific case of Pope Francis, I confess I have no idea.
And likewise, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says of homosexual persons, “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” And that wery same paragraph (2358) also describes same-sex attraction as “objectively disordered.”
But for some reason, every time Pope Francis says the one, the secular media and certain advocacy groups get all hot and bothered that he is about to deny the other. The Times article includes an example of this.
Sarah McBride, a spokeswoman for the Human Rights Campaign, said the words sent a ripple of hope through the LGBT community that the Vatican might be embracing a broader stance on inclusion.
She added, however, “I think what’s clear in this last statement is that maybe those sentiments weren’t universally applied—that for transgender people, the pontiff is applying a different standard.”
Well, no, Ms. McBride, there is no “different standard” for homosexual people than for transgender people. The very same principle applies to both: Treat them with dignity and respect, and love them. Say you are sorry when you are cruel or dismissive of them. But none of that implies acceptance of everything they think or everything they do. That’s a separate matter.
But “LGBT leaders,” according to the Times, “said Wednesday that the pope had failed to grasp that one’s gender identity is discovered, often at a very young age, not chosen.”
In fact, it’s not so much that the pope does not “grasp” this—if by “grasp” you mean understand the argument—it’s that the pope does not agree with it. It is a contentious argument, not one that has been in any way proven. But one would think that, by denying this, the pope is denying that the sun rises in the east, or that Halley’s Comet comes once every 76 years.
“There have been times,” Ms. McBride concluded, “where [the pope has] demonstrated compassion. Then there have been other times where his words have been not only hurtful, and frankly harmful, but really demonstrating a misunderstanding of what it means to be transgender.”
A larger problem here is not the pope’s understanding “of what it means to be transgender” (or lack thereof), but Ms. McBride’s understanding of what it means to have compassion. That compassion, for her, seems to mean both “don’t kill people,” “be kind to people,” and “accept every false and wreckless and destructive idea and lifestyle that occurs to them” helps to explain why Pope Francis is the cause of repeated dashed hopes on the left.
People like Ms. McBride work themselves up into a pitch of nervous excitement, and then wail in a jilted rage when reality sets in. Only to do it all over again next month.
This is Pope Francis Derangement Syndrome of the left.