Dialogue of the deaf

The recent Vatican statement about gender theory was issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education, in the guise of a discussion document.

It needs to be admitted by those who originate such documents that there are some things which are simply not open for discussion: that is to say, matters on which neither side can in conscience compromise. A prime example was the declaration of St John Paul on the ordination of women:

‘Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.’

Not only was that a clear statement of a Magisterial determination, but it was made on the understanding that the proponents of women’s ordination were similarly dogmatic. For them equality (and equal treatment) of the sexes is an ethical a priori imperative on which there can be no going back. Dialogue is therefore a logical impossibility.

The same appears to be the case with regard to modern gender theory.

The Catholic Church (committed to a belief in Creation by a good God) holds that sex is given and not made. The gender theorists have rejected creationism and affirm that gender is made and not given – socially constructed and subject to individual choice.

The Catholic Church (committed to the conviction that human happiness is achieved by willing acceptance of the given) sees the wilfulness of modern individualism as sinful. The gender theorists hold that the way to human felicity is by the fullest possible affirmation of the individual will.

It is not clear what fruitful dialogue could be engaged between these two mutually exclusive positions.

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