Once again, Pope Francis’ straight talk is making waves in the media. Two Vaticanisti, Andrea Tornielli and Giacomo Galeazzi, highlight his forceful condemnation of gender theory in a recent Italian book entitled
Pope Francis: This Economy Kills, (Questa economia uccide), not yet available in English.
Last January, in a press conference during his return from the Philippines, Francis condemned the efforts to colonize developing countries with gender ideology. In one of the interviews provided in this new book, which had already been partially published but is only now made fully available by Tornielli and Galeazzi. Francis expands upon that condemnation.
With his full set of recent statements, including those brought together with this new book, Francis forcefully criticizes the attempt by gender theorists to impose programs of indoctrination that deny the naturally inherent differences between boys and girls, and between men and women, in exchange for development funds. Francis compares gender theory’s rejection of the essential role of complementary sexual difference in forging personal and social identity to genetic manipulation, nuclear weapons, and to the tyrannical political programs against humanity of Herod in ancient Jerusalem, and even to the 20th century fascists Hitler and Mussolini.
These three tyrants used power and ideology to deny nature and nature’s law that requires universal respect for our inherent human dignity. The "Herods" of every historical period destroy and "plot designs of death, that disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation." In contrast, respect for our divinely endowed human dignity requires respect for the "design of the Creator … written in nature".
The Pope’s blunt denunciations may seem harsh, even out of character, but, on deeper analysis, they are of a piece with his gentle gestures of cordial acceptance shown to individuals.
Defending the marginalized
Francis pulls no punches when defending the personal freedom of the marginalized from the powerful forces of homogenizing globalization, especially when organized by top-down strategies coordinated against ordinary people striving to exercise the demands of human nature in trying circumstances.
While defending the poor and the outcast, Pope Francis continues to cause controversy, provoking criticism from the left and from the right, from within the Catholic Church and from outside it. As a transformational change agent leading the oldest existing institution, he confounds standard categories, especially those emphasized in facile media sound-bites. He is leading with his personal example by truly shaking things up.
Pope Francis attracts crowds and moves hearts because he exudes authenticity and tenderness. Many see Jesus in him. He emphasizes mercy, not rules. He calls for conversion, not self-righteousness, and directs his challenge first to the Vatican itself and then to the whole world.
To appreciate the depth of those personal gestures, one must see him within historical context. He is no longer just Jorge Mario Bergoglio. His hard-charging efforts to reform the Vatican demonstrate his acute awareness of the weight of his office as successor of Peter at the head of an organization that is nearly 2000 years old and composed of over a billion members.
Act 2 of the “dictatorship of relativism”
Indeed, in a private conversation with a friend of mine, he recently declared: I am continuing the teaching of Benedict XVI regarding the dictatorship of relativism by extending Benedict’s critique of our age to also condemn what I call the throwaway culture.