While societies must find a way to overcome the subjugation of women, pretending there are no differences between men and women or even using technology to change a person's sex is not the answer, Pope Francis said.
He denounced the utopia of “the neuter,” which seeks to remove “both the human dignity of the sexually different constitution [of man and woman] and the personal quality of the reproductive transmission of life.”
The pope was speaking on Oct. 5 at the plenary assembly of the newly reconstituted Pontifical Academy for Life. The academy was convening for a discussion: “Accompanying life. New responsibilities in the technological era.” He warned the gathering, which includes participants from all continents, that “the power of biotechnologies, which allows the manipulation of life in a way that was unthinkable yesterday, raises formidable questions.”
Using science "to radically eliminate any difference between the sexes, and, as a result, the covenant between man and woman, is not right," Pope Francis said. "The biological and psychological manipulation of sexual difference, which biomedical technology now presents as a simple matter of personal choice—which it is not—risks eliminating the source of energy that nourishes the covenant between man and woman and makes it creative and fruitful," the pope said.
He said there is a “true and real cultural revolution” on the horizon of humanity today and said the church must play its part in the cultural discussion. In this perspective, he said, “It’s necessary, first of all, to honestly recognize ‘the delays and omissions’ by the church in this field.
“The forms of subordination that have sadly marked the history of women must be definitely abandoned,” the pope stated.
“The forms of subordination that have sadly marked the history of women must be definitely abandoned,” the pope stated. “A new beginning must be written in the ethos of the peoples, and only a renewed culture of the identity and of the difference [between man and woman] can do this,” he said.
Today, he said, “it’s necessary to take up [the] challenge posed by the intimidation exercised in the face of the generation of human life, almost as if it were a mortification of woman and a threat to the collective well-being.” He went on to affirm that “the generative alliance of man and woman is a bastion for the global humanism of men and women, not a handicap.” He added, “Our history will not be renewed if we refuse this truth.”
He said that “instead of contrasting the negative interpretations of the sexual difference that mortify its irreducible significance for human dignity, [the prevailing hypothesis] wants in fact to cancel that difference by proposing techniques and practices that render it irrelevant for the development of the person and for human relations.”
Francis recalled the biblical teaching that “God entrusted to man and woman the created world and history.” This “alliance of man and woman” is sealed “by the union of a person and fertile love, that marks the road for the transmission of life through marriage and the family.”
Together, man and woman, are called “to take in their hands the direction of the whole of society,” he stated. They are “not only called to speak of love but to speak to each other with love, of that which they must do so that human coexistence is realized in the light of the love of God for every creature.”
Earlier in his talk, the pope spoke about the context in which we are living, which raises new questions about the meaning of human life, its origin and destiny, and he drew attention to the rapid spreading of “a culture that is obsessively centered on the sovereignty of man—as a species and an individual—with respect to reality.”
Some even speak of “a true and proper cult of the ‘I,’ on whose altar everything is sacrificed, including the most cherished affections.” He labeled this egotism and said it is not an innocuous reality; “it forms a subject that is always looking in the mirror, to the point where one becomes incapable of raising their eyes to the other and to the world.”
As he had done in his encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” so too today, he denounced “the unfettered materialism that characterizes the alliance between the economy and technology, and which treats life as a resource to be exploited or to be discarded when it’s a question of power and profit.”
The head of the academy, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, said this week that "pro-life" is more than just a bioethical and theoretical concept about a hot-button issue like abortion, but also includes human issues like migration, the environment and even arms trafficking.
Being pro-life, he told a news conference, "means promoting a culture that helps life wherever and whenever."
This report includes CNS and AP content.