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Gender theory “dangerous” as it “cancels differences,” says Pope 

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 01/08/24

In his speech to the diplomatic corps of the Holy See the Pope warned the international community to not allow “ideological colonization” to divide states.

Ideological colonizations prove injurious and create divisions between states, rather than fostering peace,” Pope Francis said on January 8, 2024, in his long annual speech to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. Calling for respect for human rights and defense of the dignity of life at all stages, the Pontiff said that the international community must be wary of states splitting along ideological lines, to the detriment of peace, security, and cooperation.

In speaking about the development of human rights, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2023, Pope Francis deplored that in recent decades there have been “attempts” to “introduce new rights” that are not always generally agreed upon. He explained that this has “led to instances of ideological colonization, in which gender theory plays a central role.”

“The latter is extremely dangerous since it cancels differences in its claim to make everyone equal,” he added. 

Ideological colonization as a detriment to peace

Pope Francis has often defined “gender theory” as an instance of “ideological colonization,” meaning he takes the concept of colonization, as an imposition of an external worldview that destroys a culture or people, to explain how he believes certain “ideologies” are today imposed on society.

He often uses it in reference to family ethics, marriage, and gender issues. And it often comes up in regard to poorer regions of the globe, and the influence wielded by rich countries in offering or withholding financial support depending on if a country bends to pressure on these issues.

In his speech to the diplomatic corps he in fact explained how ideological colonization affects cooperation between states, as they divide themselves according to these worldviews.

“Organizations established to foster security, peace, and cooperation are no longer capable of uniting all their members around one table,” the Pope assessed, acknowledging also that the structures of multilateral diplomacy have weakened since the end of the Second World War.

“There is the risk of a ‘monadology’ and of splitting into ‘clubs’ that only admit states deemed ideologically compatible. Even agencies devoted to the common good and to technical questions, which have thus far proved effective, risk paralysis due to ideological polarization and exploitation by individual states.” 

“Dialogue, on the other hand, must be the soul of the international community,” he emphasized.

Stop surrogate motherhood

In defending human rights in his speech, the Pope also underlined the need to defend life at all its stages, calling for the international community to prohibit “so-called surrogate motherhood” across the world.

“The path to peace calls for respect for life, for every human life, starting with the life of the unborn child in the mother’s womb, which cannot be suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking,” he said.

“In this regard, I deem deplorable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs,” he continued. “A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract. Consequently, I express my hope for an effort by the international community to prohibit this practice universally.”

The Pope also deplored the “continued spread of the culture of death,” especially in the West. “In the name of a false compassion [the culture of death] discards children, the elderly, and the sick.” 

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