Catholic Family News

Vatican Congregation for Education Issues Scandalous Document on Gender Theory

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the government ministries are named for the opposite of what they actually do. The Ministry of Truth disseminates lies and propaganda to control the population. It alters historical records and photographs to make history into what the government wants. The Ministry of Love is the headquarters of a brutal secret police, a building that Orwell describes as an armed fortress surrounded by “barbed-wire entanglements, steel doors, and hidden machine-gun nests.”

Under Francis the Dictator, the Catholic Church is becoming the Orwellian government under the thumb of “Big Brother.” Vatican congregations and academies are coming to stand for the opposite of their names. We witnessed another example of this phenomenon on June 10, 2019, when the Congregation for (so-called) Catholic Education released a 30-page document containing some 45,000 words on the topic of “Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education” (emphasis added and henceforth the “MF Document”). In this text, the Congregation shows itself to be anything but concerned with Catholic education. The subtitle alone led Chris Ferrara in a recent online article on the Fatima Center website to conclude that the MF Document was “a sea of tendentious verbosity whose currents lead away from the orthodox teaching toward yet another concession to the spirit of the age”. Ferrara could not bring himself to read the entire text as a result of this scandalous subtitle. He is absolutely correct. There is no question of “gender theory”. Gender and biological sex are facts of reality, not open questions to be discussed through a theory. The ideological, anti-realist, and immoral agenda of those advocating gender “theory” needs to be rejected and refuted, not entertained through dialogue.

Perhaps I am a glutton for punishment, but I forced myself to read the entire 30-page text that purports to offer guidance to Catholic educational institutions. Having done so, I have proven Ferrara’s assessment to be correct. The document is nothing but a diabolically inspired disorientation. In this article, I draw out the major errors (there are many more that space prevents addressing) found in this document. Sadly, as scandalous as the MF Document is, it is what we have come to expect from the Bergoglian dictatorship.

Male and Female He Created Them

Before diving into the chaff of the MF Document, we should establish what the Church infallibly teaches about the human sexes. From the very first book of the Scriptures, the infallible word of God confirms what simple observation of natural reality teaches philosophers who adhere to a philosophy of realism. “And God created man to His own image: to the image of God He created him: male and female He created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1:27-28). There is no question to be resolved: we have God’s word for it. He created human nature to include both male and female who are such from their creation. Gender is a fact, not a theory. Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical Arcanum Divinae, confirms this fact which, as he says, is “to all known”:

We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep. God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time. (n. 5)

It is a unique trait of modernity that everything that has always and everywhere been known to all is somehow transformed into open questions for dialogue. In any event, we can summarize what the Church has always taught infallibly:

  1. The distinction of males and females within the human race was specifically created by God from the beginning.
  2. This created biological difference was created for the primary purpose of permitting human beings to actively participate in the generation of new life.
  3. There is no difference between biological “sex” (the possession of specific organs suited to one half of the procreative act) and gender. A person born with masculine organs (and, as modern science has proven, unique male chromosomes) is a man (or male) and one with female organs and chromosomes is a woman (or female).

Now, we must not be distracted by a fallacious argument speciously employed so as “to deceive (if possible) even the elect” (Matt. 24:24). Simply because extremely rare examples can be found in which nature has failed and a genetic anomaly has arisen (for example, a person born lacking parts or aspects of his or her generative organs) does not disprove these truths. These isolated examples are merely cases of the imperfection introduced into nature due to original sin. To argue that these rare anomalies call into question the created reality of men and women is equivalent to arguing that since a few babies have been born without a hand that raises the question of whether human beings are supposed to have two hands and that those with two hands can decide if they are supposed to amputate one to identify with one-handedness. These few biological failures are, as stated earlier, a consequence of original sin. In any event, those pushing the gender theory agenda are not doing so for people with genetic defects; it is for people who were born with all their proper organs.

Having firmly established ourselves in reality, let us turn to the major errors of the MF Document, which I have grouped under three headings: (1) errors about gender, (2) errors about marriage and the family, and (3) errors about education.

Incorrect Vision of Gender Ideology, Obsession with Social Sciences

One of the major themes that emerged from Vatican II (and something integral to its ever-invoked “spirit”) was a new obsession with modern secular (meaning godless) science and social science. Paragraph 54 of Gaudium et Spes is a classic example of this naïve and blind promotion of godless endeavors that destroy Catholic culture (its waxing lyrical about industrialization and urbanization is laughable in comparison with what these forces have done in the last fifty years):

The circumstances of the life of modern man have been so profoundly changed in their social and cultural aspects, that we can speak of a new age of human history. New ways are open, therefore, for the perfection and the further extension of culture. These ways have been prepared by the enormous growth of natural, human and social sciences, by technical progress, and advances in developing and organizing means whereby men can communicate with one another. Hence the culture of today possesses particular characteristics: sciences which are called exact greatly develop critical judgment; the more recent psychological studies more profoundly explain human activity; historical studies make it much easier to see things in their mutable and evolutionary aspects, customs and usages are becoming more and more uniform; industrialization, urbanization, and other causes which promote community living create a mass-culture from which are born new ways of thinking, acting and making use of leisure.

Since this utopian nonsense issued from Rome over 50 years ago, Churchmen have shown themselves to be obsessed with modern social science and have sought acceptance by those who study these disciplines from an atheistic or agnostic foundation.

This obsession is one factor which has undermined the Church’s fulfillment of the first of her three primary and divinely mandated missions: to teach. Rather than teaching (as Leo XIII did in the above quoted passage), Churchmen obsessed with social science want to engage with godless errors and be accepted and invited to academic conferences to “dialogue” about things the Church has been commanded simply to teach.

We see this spirit pervade the recent MF Document from the outset when it announces the methodology it will recommend for dealing with gender “theory”:

The methodology in mind is based on three guiding principles seen as best suited to meet the needs of both individuals and communities: to listen, to reason and to propose. In fact, listening carefully to the needs of the other, combined with an understanding of the true diversity of conditions. (para. 5)

After confusing the teaching of divinely revealed truths (like the fact recorded in Genesis 1:27), everything is up for grabs. The Church doesn’t teach in her educational mission but must listen and at most “propose.”

Following from this technique of disarming the Church of her mission of teaching when educating, the MF Document employs another well-used trick. It creates a false distinction to lull into sleep more conservative readers who might object. Rather than simply stating that the root claim proposed by gender theory—that gender is not a fact distinguishing men from women but an individual choice among an ever growing list of optional genders—is not true, it tries to claim that the Church only opposes the extreme versions of gender theory (those that are “ideological”). In other words, the Church can dialogue and collaborate with the more moderate forms.

This was the same technique used to abandon the prior clear condemnation of Communism in whatever form. The “red” clergy claimed that we had to distinguish between radical communism and true Marxism. Pius XI warned the Church against this trap. Catholics cannot collaborate with a fundamentally false movement like Communism even in its less radical form. He states: “See to it, Venerable Brethren, that the Faithful do not allow themselves to be deceived! Communism is intrinsically wrong, and no one who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever” (Divini Redemptoris, n. 58).

Yet, the drafters of the MF Document throw out this warning and adopt the false distinction between radical and mild gender theory:

If we wish to take an approach to the question of gender theory that is based on the path of dialogue, it is vital to bear in mind the distinction between the ideology of gender on the one hand, and the whole field of research on gender that the human sciences have undertaken, on the other. (para. 6)

This approach of accepting so-called moderate forms of an error and dialoguing and collaborating with it ultimately leads to acceptance of the erroneous principles underlying Communism (or gender theory). This phenomenon is exactly what happened in Liberation Theology that attempted to collaborate with Marxism: it became Marxist by abandoning Catholic truth.* This is the nature of post-Vatican II dialogue: a one-way street. Churchmen accept the errors of their collaborators and their dialogue partners accept nothing of Catholicism. The authors of the MF Document demonstrate that they have accepted the core errors of gender theory. A few quotations (with emphasis added) prove this contention:

  • “In this cultural context, it is clear that sex and gender are no longer synonyms or interchangeable concepts, since they are used to describe two different realities. . . The problem here does not lie in the distinction between the two terms, which can be interpreted correctly, but in the separation of sex from gender.” (para. 11)
  • “The ideal presented is that the individual should be able to choose his or her own status, and that society should limit itself to guaranteeing this right, and even providing material support, since the minorities involved would otherwise suffer negative social discrimination.” (para. 14)
  • “From the whole field of writing on gender theory, there have however emerged some positions that could provide points of agreement, with a potential to yield growth in mutual understanding. . . . Indeed, it cannot be denied that through the centuries forms of unjust discrimination have been a sad fact of history and have also had an influence within the Church. This has brought a certain rigid status quo, delaying the necessary and progressive inculturation of the truth of Jesus’ proclamation of the equal dignity of men and women, and has provoked accusations of a sort of masculinist mentality, veiled to a greater or lesser degree by religious motives.” (para. 15)
  • “Another position held in common is the need to educate children and young people to respect every person in their particularity and difference, so that no one should suffer bullying, violence, insults or unjust discrimination based on their specific characteristics (such as special needs, race, religion, sexual tendencies, etc.” (para. 16)

Paragraph 11 is the end of the game. The entire premise of the modern gender theory movement is to get people to accept that biological sex and gender are different concepts. They claim we may be born with a certain biological sex but our gender is something different—something we can “choose” for ourselves. Accepting this cleavage of synonymous concepts is equivalent to accepting the Marxist claim that all history is evolutionary class struggle. There is no way to “interpret” this false claim about reality in a correct way. It is simply false.

They next accept the false argument that because the Church has been faithful to Genesis 1:27, the Church is responsible for violence and unjust discrimination and persecution throughout history. The reasoning for this argument is embedded in the other error that respect for human dignity is not rooted in our common human nature (as a rational animal created in the image and likeness of God) but in different sexual tendencies. The document accepts the false premise that if the Church teaches the truth about the reality of sex and gender, she is not respecting these differences and is therefore responsible for violence and bullying. The document scandalously calls on Catholic schools to teach children to respect different (i.e. morally deviant) sexual tendencies so as to get out of the “certain rigid status quo” that veils a “masculine mentality” in “religious motives.” Clearly, they want to teach children that the Church’s teaching on the created difference in God-given genders and its consequences for sacramental ordination needs to give way in dialogue so as to atone for the alleged and unproven responsibility of the Church for crimes in the past.

Incorrect Vision of Sexual Acts and Marriage

At the root of the errors of gender ideology is a flawed understanding of the nature and primary end of marital acts and marriage itself. Modern gender theory considers the sole obligatory end of marriage to be the psychological and personal well-being of the spouses and sexual acts to be primarily about expressing personal feelings and sharing pleasure. Although the Church has always acknowledged that when engaged in between validly married spouses, the marital act does strengthen the bond between them and supports the spouses in their duties of state. Yet, these effects are secondary ends subordinate to the primary end of the act: the procreation and education of children. Husbands and wives make proper use of the marital act primarily to dispose matter for God to create a human soul if He chooses and to build a strong and indissoluble relationship for the purpose of supporting each other in rearing and educating those children whom God wills to send.

Yet, the MF Document develops the ambiguity contained in the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes about the primary and secondary ends of marriage and embraces the modern error that marital acts are exclusively destined for the pleasure and well-being of whomever engages in them and children are merely optional choices that can be tacked on to the pleasure. For example, the MF Document states (emphasis added):

  • “The Christian vision of anthropology sees sexuality as a fundamental component of one’s personhood. It is one of its mode of being, of manifesting itself, communicating with others, and of feeling, expressing and living human love. Therefore, our sexuality plays an integral part in the development of our personality and in the process of its education.” (para. 4; note that procreation doesn’t even get an honorable mention)
  • “Thus, the institutional model of the family (where a structure and finality exist independent of the subjective preferences of the spouses) is bypassed, in favour of a vision of family that is purely contractual and voluntary.” (para. 9; yet they cannot connect the dots between this result and the “Christian vision of anthropology of sexuality.”)
  • “‘Faced with a culture that largely reduces human sexuality to the level of something common place, since it interprets and lives it in a reductive and impoverished way by linking it solely with the body and with selfish pleasure, the educational service of parents must aim firmly at a training in the area of sex that is truly and fully personal: for sexuality is an enrichment of the whole person – body, emotions and soul – and it manifests its inmost meaning in leading the person to the gift of self in love'”. (para. 38 quoting John Paul II, who invented the scandalous “Theology of the Body”)

Notice that the authors do not call for “training of the areas of sex that is truly and fully” moral. No, they call for sex education that makes sex “personal.” They have accepted the modern erroneous understanding of marital acts as all about the pleasure or personal growth of the people and nothing to do with procreation and rearing of children.

Their complete loss of a Catholic moral sense is exhibited in paragraph 28 in which they mildly critique modern scientific interference in the marital act severing it from procreation. They state: “However, the use of such technology [i.e. artificial ways of conceiving and bearing children] is not a replacement for natural conception, since it involves the manipulation of human embryos, the fragmentation of parenthood, the instrumentalization and/or commercialization of the human body as well as the reduction of a baby to an object in the hands of science and technology.” Completely absent from this statement is the moral evil that these technologies result in the death of conceived human beings. Note that the only thing they see wrong with these technologies which sever procreation from marital acts is the bad effects on the parents and have not a word to say about how they result in untold deaths of tiny human beings.

I have saved the best for last. Paragraph 35 is astounding, not only in its babble of jargon but in its completely clear rejection of procreation as the “real meaning of sexuality.” They proclaim:

Therefore, in the light of a fully human and integral ecology, women and men will understand the real meaning of sexuality and genitality in terms of the intrinsically relational and communicative intentionality that both informs their bodily nature and moves each one towards the other mutually.

If I had quoted paragraphs 35 and 38 claiming it had come from the scandalous book The Joy of Sex, would anyone object and say, “No, it can’t be from that book; it must be from a Vatican document”? I think not.

Errors about Education

Finally, the MF Document demonstrates that its authors, in addition to lacking any Catholic understanding of marriage, also lack any notion of Catholic education: a scandalous conclusion for a document issued by the Congregation for Education.

The Church has always taught, and confirmed as recently as Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Divini Illius Magistri from 1929, that education is about teaching. From the Latin verb educere (meaning “to lead out of”), the term signifies someone with superior knowledge and wisdom leading others out of ignorance into truth. Modern education based on the errors of Jean Jacques Rousseau and John Dewey is all about letting the pupils learn for themselves and choose what they want to believe as true. Education is about the student “expressing himself.” Our Lord told His Church to “teach ye all nations” (Matt. 28:19), not “let all nations express themselves.” Yet, the MF Document clearly adheres to the modern erroneous understanding of education (emphasis added):

  • “The Catholic school should be an educating community in which the human person can express themself [sic] and grow in his or her humanity, in a process of relational dialogue, interacting in a constructive way, exercising tolerance, understanding different points of view and creating trust in an atmosphere of authentic harmony. Such a school is truly an “educating community, a place of differences living together in harmony. The school community is a place for encounter and promoting participation….’” (para. 40)
  • “The Christian educational proposal fosters deeper dialogue…” (para. 53)
  • “The programmes dealing with formation in affectivity and sexuality offered by Catholic centres of education must take into consideration the age group of the students being taught and treat each person with the maximum of respect. This can be achieved through a way of accompanying that is discrete and confidential, capable of reaching out to those who are experiencing complex and painful situations [Amoris Laetitia alert]. Every school should therefore make sure it is an environment of trust, calmness and openness, particularly where there are cases that require time and careful discernment [Amoris Laetitia alert].” (para. 56, citing Amoris Laetitia)

Notice that for these deluded Churchmen, education is no longer about teaching children natural and supernatural truths. It is about “relational dialogue”, children “expressing[ing] themself,” and school being “a place of encounter and participation.” Although they want to include in Catholic schools “programmes” on “affectivity and sexuality” (i.e. secular sex education that scandalizes and which Pius XI decreed has no place in Catholic schools), from their poor writing they obviously are not interested in programs teaching grammar. Notice that they call for education which includes “understanding different points of view.” Yet, they do not call for education that leads students to understand which points of view are right and which are wrong, which are moral and which are immoral. Again, these quotations could be attributed to John Dewey or any secular public schoolboard without anyone thinking they came from the Catholic Church. This document is a complete surrender to the erroneous understanding of education as self-expression rather than actual learning.


Perhaps Chris Ferrara’s initial reaction (mentioned above) was the correct one: do not even bother reading this drivel. Yet, we need to be aware of how radical the post-Conciliar revolution is. Particularly under Pope Francis the Dictator, there is a constant barrage of novelty seeking to eliminate (in an erroneous way) any ambiguity in the Council documents and to bring the seeds of error to their full conclusion. The means of this revolution primarily rests on the concept of dialogue. As this document shows, the only goal of dialogue is to conform the Church to the world, not to proclaim the truth of Christ and to teach all men to obey all that He has commanded (cf. Matt. 28:20). This smiling “Big Brother” Pope is transforming all aspects of the Church’s organization into the opposite of their original purpose.


* We also know from the testimony of Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa (former head of intelligence for communist Romania, defected to the U.S. in 1978) that “liberation theology” was created by the KGB and brought into Latin America by Soviet agents: This transplanted novelty won adherents who naively thought they could forge a reconciliation with their unknown masters.

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Brian McCall

With degrees from Yale University, the University of London, and the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. McCall is a member of the faculty of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Mr. McCall became Editor-in-Chief of Catholic Family News in 2018. He is the author of numerous books and articles on law, politics, and Catholic Social Teaching and has made frequent speaking appearances at academic and Catholic conferences on these topics. He and his wife are the parents of six children.

Brian McCall

Avatar photo

With degrees from Yale University, the University of London, and the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. McCall is a member of the faculty of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Mr. McCall became Editor-in-Chief of Catholic Family News in 2018. He is the author of numerous books and articles on law, politics, and Catholic Social Teaching and has made frequent speaking appearances at academic and Catholic conferences on these topics. He and his wife are the parents of six children.