Pope Francis wades into transgender debate, laments 'annihilation of man as image of God'
Posted August 16, 2016
Pope Francis has once again waded into the gender identity debate, proclaiming in a recent closed-door meeting with bishops from Poland that he opposes teaching children that "everyone can choose their gender."
Francis lamented during his remarks that the current culture is experiencing the "annihilation of man as image of God."
"Today, in schools they are teaching this to children — to children! — that everyone can choose their gender," he said.
The pontiff went on to call the dynamic "terrible," saying that it is "very influential countries" that drive the redefinition of gender, though he did not specify those nations by name, The Associated Press reported.
Francis also alleged there are powerful institutions funding gender theory but also reportedly declined to name them.
"God created man and woman," Francis said. "God created the world like this and we are doing the exact opposite."
He also said that he has discussed the gender issue with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, with Benedict telling Francis, "Your Holiness, we are living in an age of sin against God the creator."
According to The Catholic Herald, Francis linked gender theory with human exploitation more broadly, saying that the common root of these issues is a failure to appreciate God's design in humanity. The "exploitation of creation and the exploitation of people" is a "global problem," he argued.
"We are living at a time when humankind as the image of God is being annihilated," the pope said.
This isn't the first time that Francis has commented on gender identity, with the Catholic leader discussing the issue during remarks to a general audience in St. Peter's Square back in April 2015.
Francis said at the time that God created different sexes so that humans could complement and help one another, adding that it was "for communion and generation, always in the image and likeness of God," according to the National Catholic Reporter.
"We are made to listen to each other and help each other," the pontiff said. "We can say that without mutual enrichment in this relationship — in thinking and action, in feelings and work, even in faith — the two can't even understand fully what it means to be a man and woman."
He continued, "God entrusted the earth to the covenant between man and woman: its failure drains the world of affection and obscures the heavens of hope."
U.S. bishops have also spoken out on transgender issues of late, taking aim at the Obama administration's controversial guidance for public schools — guidelines that implore schools to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.
"The guidance fails to address a number of important concerns and contradicts a basic understanding of human formation so well expressed by Pope Francis: that 'the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created,'" read a statement from the bishops earlier this year.
Francis has also landed in the headlines this week over comments he made at World Youth Day in Poland, telling young people that "not all Muslims are violent" just as "not all Catholics are violent."
"This is a small fundamentalist group that is called ISIS," Francis added. "You cannot say — I believe it is not true and it is not just — that Islam is terroristic."
The pontiff has also convened a special commission to explore whether it would be possible for the Catholic Church to ordain female deacons.
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