“This is why it is very urgent to present the true vision of man in this world, otherwise we will lose our way,” he said.
The Church’s vision, he said, can be understood “based on pure reason,” as well as based on Sacred Scripture. The human body belongs to the human person in “an essential way.”
“We have a material dimension and a spiritual dimension, and both are essential to us as human beings,” Eijk explained.
Contrary views try to depict the body as “something extrinsic to the human person and subsequently as a pure means, which has value according to how it is attributed to it by the human person.” This contemporary view gives the human being “the right to dispose of the body in a considerable way” and helps justify assisted suicide, abortion, and other immoral practices.
The cardinal noted the pope’s previous efforts to address gender theory, but he said that these do not address the topic as a central theme.
In the 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, on God’s creation and care for the environment, Pope Francis encouraged the recognition of the body in its femininity or masculinity and recognizing its “direct relationship with the environment and with other living beings.”
“The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology,” the pope said.
In Amoris laetitia, a 2016 postsynodal apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis wrote that masculinity and femininity are “not rigid categories,” but the masculine and the feminine cannot be inseparable from God’s work of creation. He discussed the need to help individuals, especially the young, “accept their own body as it was created.” He warned about pretensions to “cancel out sexual difference because one no longer knows how to deal with it.”
The cardinal cited both the encyclical and the exhortation.
However, there are other Vatican sources that address the topic. In June 2019 the Congregation for Catholic Education criticized gender theory as a “cultural and ideological revolution.” In its document “Male and Female He Created Him,” the Vatican department outlined the origins of the mindset and the broad movement to enact policies and laws in alignment with its view of humankind.