Pope Francis reiterated his concerns regarding gender ideology during a discussion with Jesuits held during his trip to Slovakia on September 12. He says that abstract ideologies have “a diabolical appeal” that must be “exposed at the root,” according to an article in the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, which published a full version of the exchange on September 21.
On the occasion of his visit to Slovakia, Pope Francis engaged in one of his favorite exercises: a casual discussion with members of the Society of Jesus, the Pope’s own spiritual family.
In a question-and-answer session with about 50 Jesuits, the Pope spoke about migration, the recent Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes, and gender ideology—a way of thinking that considers sexual identity to be primarily a social construct, independent of biological realities.
When asked about this ideology, the Pope replied, “The ‘gender’ ideology of which you speak is dangerous, yes. As I understand it, it is so because it is abstract with respect to the concrete life of a person, as if a person could decide abstractly at will if and when to be a man or a woman.”
For the head of the Catholic Church, “Abstraction is always a problem.” He adds, “Ideology always has a diabolical appeal,” because “it is not embodied.”
“We need to expose (ideologies) at their roots,” he insisted.
The Pope has spoken on other occasions of the need to stay grounded in concrete life.
For example, in a general audience on prayer, he said, “It is dangerous for man to cultivate an interest so abstract that he loses contact with reality. Work helps us to stay in touch with reality. … a prayer that is alien from life is not healthy. A prayer that alienates itself from the concreteness of life becomes spiritualism, or worse, ritualism.”
Distinct from homosexual issue
The Argentine pontiff then insisted on separating abstract ideology from the issue of homosexuality. “This has nothing to do with the homosexual issue,” he stressed, explaining that, “If there is a homosexual couple, we can do pastoral work with them, move forward in our encounter with Christ.”
He went on immediately to repeat, “When I talk about ideology, I’m talking about the idea, the abstraction in which everything is possible, not about the concrete life of people and their real situation.”
Colonization all over again
This is not the first time that Pope Francis has spoken out on gender ideology since his accession to the Throne of St. Peter in 2013.
In 2016, for example, on the plane returning from his trip to Baku, Azerbaijan, he strongly criticized the “indoctrination of gender theory,” especially through the “ideological colonization” present in school books.