December 23rd, 2016

Excerpts: Encyclical on Danger of Gender Ideology

Read the full Encyclical on the Danger of Gender Ideology

Prot. N. ВА 16/562 ENG.

ENCYCLICAL
OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
OF THE MAJOR ARCHBISHOPRIC OF KYIV-HALYCH
OF THE UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC CHURCH
CONCERNING THE DANGER OF GENDER IDEOLOGY

Dearly Beloved in Christ!

Introduction

1. In the twentieth century, the people of Ukraine suffered from a godless Soviet regime that attempted to forcefully tear people from the roots of faith and impose an atheistic worldview. Presented as the only “scientific” one, this worldview denied human persons’ freedom of conscience and deprived them of the right to freely profess their religious beliefs. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the world stands before similar challenges, which, however, are not accompanied by open and bloody persecution, but rather are served by hidden ideological means of destroying Christian faith and morality, as well as universal human values. Some of these challenges relate to areas of human sexuality and family life, and are not new to Ukraine; rather, they are accented or presented in public consciousness in a new manner. Others are entirely new and even far removed from the Ukrainian context, but certain forces are attempting to artificially impose them upon us.

3. Under these circumstances, the Church-Mother seeks by means of this Encyclical to warn the faithful and all people of good will of the threats that are hidden behind gender ideology and similar worldview systems, and recall the traditional biblical, Christian, and universal values upon which interpersonal relationships and the way of organizing social life are based.

Creation of Eve

I. Human Dignity in God’s Plan

4. The whole history of salvation attests to the incredible love of God for the human person. From the very first pages of Holy Scripture we learn about the extraordinary greatness of the human person. While everything else arose from only one word of God, Church tradition speaks of a Divine “meeting” that preceded the creation of the human person: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’” (Gen. 1:26). Particular attention should be given to the phrase “in our image, after our likeness.” This is the basis of the concept of human dignity, which in the New Testament is emphasized in the Incarnation of the Son of God in human nature. The image of God is integral to the natural dignity and spiritual beauty of every human person, from the moment of conception until natural death. This is a common feature of all people that reflects their equal and infinite value.

6. Sexuality, as a gift to be man or woman (cf. Gen. 1:27) given by God during creation, integrally covers all the natural dimensions of existence of the human person: body, soul, and spirit. A person is called to accept God’s plan for themselves as expressed in their sex—because sex does not depend on human choice—and to embody it in their lives. Sexuality can only be comprehended in light of the Christian understanding of love as a vocation to the communion of persons and the self-giving of one person to another. “In marital life, a man and a woman open themselves to God through mutual love, which becomes the foundation of their indissoluble union, fidelity, and fruitfulness. In the virginal state of consecrated life, sexuality is transfigured in the Holy Spirit in order to serve God and one’s neighbour in love for the sake of the heavenly kingdom (cf. Matt. 19:12). Any selfish exploitation of another person as a means for obtaining sexual pleasure contradicts God’s gift of love, deforms the essence of sexuality, and deeply wounds the person.”[1]

9. One of the features inherent in God’s image in the human person is free will, by which it can freely choose the good; however, it is also able to choose another way: “The most profound dimension of human freedom consists in being able to freely choose God and to be with him. This is the good. Yet with this same freedom, we can also reject our relationship with God—and this is evil.”[2] “The devil in Paradise lured Adam with a vain hope for divinization, proposing that he consider the measure of goodness resides not in God but within himself…The deceit of the Evil One is based on the premise that God is deceiving humankind with his commandment, thereby undercutting their freedom…”[3] From the biblical account of the fall of the progenitors, we conclude that a sinful choice has serious consequences for the person—the loss of paradise as a state of blessed communion and life with God and other creatures (cf. Gen. 3:4–14). The sin of the progenitors also obscured the truth about the human person as the image of God. Since then, human nature has also been marred by sin. The brokenness caused by sin continues in history, appearing in a variety of abuses in the area of ​​sexuality.

II. The Concept of Gender

13. Over the course of millennia, humankind has recognized the existence of two sexes based on biological criteria—male and female. Recently, worldviews that are contrary to the Christian faith, objective scientific reality, and natural law have become widespread and influential, namely theories of gender. Their basis is the distinction between biological sex, given to the person from conception, and gender, a certain personal choice of sexual behaviour. Consequently, gender identity is no longer considered a gift from God, but rather declared a matter of individual choice for each person. The person ”no longer understands its deep calling to eternal love, but considers it as a temporary diversion.”[4] While sexual identity is based on a biological, psycho-physical reality, gender identity abandons binary gender (male or female) in favour of a broad and free range of self-identification. Thus, sex is a natural phenomenon, whereas gender is the reality of psychological self-understanding often caused by social influence. Gender ideology insists that a person is free to choose and implement their sexual identity regardless of their biological sex. Such separation and opposition of sex and gender is dangerous, because it distorts the traditional foundations of society based on divine and natural law.

16. Of particular concern is the fact that gender ideologies are not just virtual worldview systems—they are aggressively imposed on public opinion, gradually introduced in legislation, and made ever more forcefully visible in different spheres of human life, especially in education and upbringing. “If these ideas circulated only in theory, they would not go beyond the right to private opinion and the possible existence of different philosophical views. The danger lies in the fact that such anti-human theories are trying to become the ruling ideology and be put into practice, sometimes by means of international pressures on the global community.”[5] Pope Francis states that “today a world war is being wagged to destroy marriage,” referring to the theory of gender as “destructive ideological colonization.”[6] That which was until recently considered sexual deviation is today proclaimed by gender theorists as not only normal, but as a rule of life to be followed under pain of ridicule, censure, and even punishment.

III. Destructive Outcomes of Gender Ideology

20. Gender ideology, which denies the existence of objective human nature, the complementarity of man and woman, and the values of marriage, actually denies the existence of the Creator and negates the truth of humans in his image. In such ideologies, there is no place for God, and therefore there is no place for the person in their uniqueness and dignity, because human uniqueness is grounded in its connection with the Creator. The biblical doctrine of the person, created by God, emphasizes the greatness and dignity of its origin and calling—from God and eternal life with him in holiness (divinization), while, according to gender theory, the person has a base origin and lowly potential—from itself and for temporary life, with a goal of its own pleasure. Therefore, one can say with conviction that gender theory is destructive and anti-human.

21. In addition to the fact that gender ideology clearly contradicts the teaching of Holy Scripture and Christian anthropology, it also does not correspond to objective scientific data, and is instead based on subjective hypotheses and pseudoscientific assertions made by interested parties. Objective researchers have concluded that gender ideologues ignore results of scientific research, medicine, psychology, anthropology, and bioethics that show the difference between men and women is based on the difference between the structure of the brain, hormonal balance, psychological nature…

IV. Proclaiming the Truth of Christ in the Context of an Expanding Gender Ideology

27. All people of good will should work together to defend the dignity of each person, to affirm their natural and God-given characteristics and freedoms, and also for the full protection and development of the family community on the foundation of God’s revelation, which is the real guarantor of human society’s development and worthy future. “Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.”[7] At the same time, it is necessary to show greater vigilance and responsibility in order to prevent the spread of pernicious theories, which are the latest forms of ideological enslavement and destruction of the person, the family, and society as a whole.

Conclusion

29. The Lord calls people to salvation and the fullness of happiness, giving his Commandments as a guide on our earthly journey. We call the UGCC faithful and all people of good will to value and protect human dignity in the face of new ideological challenges and threats. Each of us is called to this, no matter what our position in society.

For this reason:

    • we call to mind that “individuals should be endowed with this virtue [of chastity] according to their state in life: for some it will mean virginity or celibacy consecrated to God…. For others it will take the form determined by the moral law, according to whether they are married or single,”[8] and therefore should be properly and responsibly prepare for the choice of their state of life, based on the solid foundation of faith, morality, and divine and natural law;
    • we encourage parents to lead a good Christian life that will be an example for their children. Please take care of the Christian education of future generations, not only by transmitting the foundations of faith, but also through all manner of encouragement that they live a life in Christ and by warning them against the dangers of the false exercise of one’s free choice. Parents “are called to be gentle and wise guides. It is they who must lead the child on its path of discovering God’s gift of sexuality in himself or herself, revealing its nature and meaning in a manner appropriate to the age, needs, and depth of the child’s inquiry”;[9]
    • we appeal to workers in the field of medicine, remembering that “the most important point of a physician’s oath is to serve human life from the moment of conception and to defend its health,”[10] to promote the dissemination of a culture of life, defending in particular the life of unborn children and the elderly or terminally ill;
    • we ask everyone, especially those working in the fields of information and education, to defend and disseminate traditional moral values ​​regarding ​​sexuality and the family, remembering that “nothing can justify recourse to disinformation for manipulating public opinion through the media”;[11]
    • we ask all who are responsible for developing educational curricula to prepare them on the basis of natural and divine law, respectful of the truth, the qualities of the heart, and the moral and spiritual dignity of man,[12] avoiding any propaganda against sexual purity, marital fidelity, and the true identity of the human person;
    • we call upon scientists to remember that science and technology should recognize the basic criteria of morality and be “at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights, of his true and integral good, in conformity with the plan and the will of God,”[13] and also encourage them to use available means to demonstrate the truth about gender ideology and other destructive ideologies, and point to the importance of adhering to traditional moral and ethical foundations;
    • we remind pastors of their sacred duty to care for the spiritual condition of the family—a community of love and a “domestic church” (cf. Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col. 4:15; Phil. 1:2; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:8) that is “the primary cell of the Christian community” and “a school of social solidarity”[14] on which a healthy society is built. We also encourage them to accompany families at all stages of their existence, from preparation for married life, through support for young couples, diligent catechesis of families, and special care of families who are experiencing difficulties or crises. In addition, we ask pastors, while maintaining the teachings of the Church and observing a high level of spiritual and psychological maturity, to pay attention to pastoral work with people who have problems with the definition of their own sexual identity;[15]
    • we call upon all people of good will, especially government officials and legislators, to be vigilant that the legislation of Ukraine not give way to implementing uncertain and untested concepts of human identity or family, or principles of gender education, remembering that “the ruling authority has as its aim to serve the common good, to preserve and protect the natural and true freedom of citizens, families, and community organizations.”[16] Legislation will only be firm and unshakable when it is based not on temporary and dubious theories, but on the natural law affirmed by divine revelation.

30. We invite all to pray that God help us all to live according to his commandments, trusting in his Divine Providence and not succumbing to the temptations of opposing his will. The Lord, having created human beings as “male and female,” looked at them and said that it was very good (Gen. 1:27,31). May he embrace each person and family in his loving and life-giving gaze, confirm us all in his truth and love, and send down upon all his Fatherly blessing!

On behalf of the Synod of Bishops
of the Major Archbishopric of Kyiv-Halych of the UGCC

† SVIATOSLAV  

Given in Kyiv
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,
on the day of the holy martyrs Plato and Roman,
1 December (O.S. 18 November) 2016 A.D.

[1] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 862–863
[2] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 137.
[3] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 145–146.
[4] Joint Declaration of the Catholic Bishops of Ukraine Concerning the New Ideological Captivity of our Nation (25 November 2015).
[5] Joint Declaration of the Catholic Bishops of Ukraine Concerning the New Ideological Captivity of our Nation (25 November 2015).
[6] Cf. “Indifesa delmatrimonio. L’appello durantela visita alla chiesa dell’Assunta a Tbilisi,” L’Osservatore Romano (3-4 October 2016), 6.
[7] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2333.
[8] Persona humana (29 December 1975), § 11.
[9] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 865.
[10] Theological Department of the Patriarchal Curia of the UGCC, Defending Conceived Life: Theological, Moral-Ethical, and Pastoral Principles of the Moral Evaluation of the Problem of Destroying Unborn Children (Kyiv, 2012), § 71.
[11] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2498.
[12] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2526.
[13] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2294.
[14] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 656.
[15] Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (1 October 1986), § 6: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html
[16] Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, How to Build a Native Home? (1942), § 7.