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Pope Benedict XVI, September 18, 2010 in London, England.Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — Gender and sexual ideology saturate virtually every level of society now more than ever, confusing many and often facing little pushback.

Even in the Catholic Church, pro-LGBT prelates dominate the Vatican, and a growing number of bishops openly reject previously unquestionable doctrine on sexual ethics.

In this crisis of confusion about the most basic facts of human nature and morality, Pope Benedict XVI’s teachings provide desperately needed clarity about gender and sexuality.

Benedict recognized the threats posed by gender ideology as early as 1963, when he decried “the abolition of the difference between man and woman” and attacks on “pre-given human nature,” in his inaugural lecture at the University of Münster.

As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) under Pope St. John Paul II, he wrote several still relevant documents defending traditional Catholic teaching on sexuality, including the CDF’s letter on homosexuality (1986) and condemnations of same-sex unions (2003) and feminism (2004).

As pope, Benedict XVI made the promotion of marriage and Christian anthropology major priorities of his papacy, alongside his defense of truth and the right to life.

Few spoke more eloquently and passionately against gender ideology and the LGBT movement on the world stage than the Bavarian pontiff, a fact that earned him the undying hatred of the international left.

“The question of the right relationship between the man and the woman is rooted in the essential core of the human being,” he said in a fiery speech shortly after his papal election. Wrong answers to that question include same-sex “marriage” and other forms of “licentiousness, which passes for the discovery of the body” but is “actually a dualism that makes the body despicable.”

Benedict rooted his teaching on gender and sexuality in what he called the “three fundamental elements of the Creator’s plan for marriage” in Genesis: God created man male and female; established marriage between them; and tasked them with transmitting life.

He saw ideologies that undermine these bedrock truths as grave threats to future of civilization and “the good of the entire human community.” In the fight to defeat those ideologies and promote the sanctity of marriage and the family, his teachings are an invaluable resource.

Benedict XVI: Gender ideology ‘attacks the very notion of being’

Benedict XVI identified gender theory, which rejects the reality of the sexes, as a form of relativism that separates man from truth and leads to his “self-destruction,” as he put it.

While prefect of the CDF, Benedict dismantled the claims of gender theory in his 2004 letter against feminism directed to the Catholic bishops of the world.

“According to this perspective,” he wrote, “human nature in itself does not possess characteristics in an absolute manner: all persons can and ought to constitute themselves as they like, since they are free from every predetermination linked to their essential constitution.”

“What is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ ultimately ends up being man’s attempt at self-emancipation from creation and the Creator.”

Benedict XVI renewed his criticism of gender theory as pope, as in his 2008 Christmas remarks to the Roman Curia that sparked hysterical backlash from the left-wing media. 

“If the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and demands that this order of creation be respected, this is not some antiquated metaphysics,” he declared. 

“What is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ ultimately ends up being man’s attempt at self-emancipation from creation and the Creator. Man wants to be his own master, and alone – always and exclusively – to determine everything that concerns him,” he said.

But this is impossible, Benedict explained: In trying to “determine” himself in spite of his created nature, man “lives in opposition to the truth, in opposition to the Creator Spirit,” resulting in “the self-destruction of man himself.” 

It was a prescient observation. Within a few years, the popularity of “gender transitions” would explode in the West, leaving tens of thousands of children castrated and mutilated in the name of “gender affirmation.” 

Amid surging confusion about sex and gender, Benedict doubled down on his condemnation of gender theory in another powerful Christmas address in 2012, accusing it of attacking “the very notion of being.”

He slammed the “obvious” and “profound falsehood of this theory,” according to which sex is “no longer a given element of nature.” He singled out feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir and her declaration that “one is not born a woman, one becomes so.”

Beauvoir’s feminism contains a radical “anthropological revolution” that would strip man of his nature and reduce him to a merely “abstract human being,” Benedict said:

People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. […] Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned.

READ: Remembering Pope Benedict XVI’s incredible legacy of defending life

The two sexes are real, define both the soul and the body

Against the lies of gender ideology, Benedict XVI stressed the reality of the two sexes as a truth of revelation. Far from being fluid “social constructs,” the sexes are unchangeable and intrinsically different, shaping every aspect of human life, he taught.

“From the first moment of their creation, man and woman are distinct, and will remain so for all eternity,” Benedict wrote in his letter against feminism. 

He cited the “immutable basis of all Christian anthropology” in Genesis: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). 

Manhood and womanhood belong “ontologically to creation” and are “destined therefore to outlast the present time, evidently in a transfigured form.”

“From the very beginning therefore, humanity is described as articulated in the male-female relationship,” he commented. “This is the humanity, sexually differentiated, which is explicitly declared ‘the image of God.’”

Benedict also clarified that sex doesn’t apply just to the body but to the soul.

Sexual difference “characterizes man and woman not only on the physical level, but also on the psychological and spiritual, making its mark on each of their expressions,” he wrote, quoting Vatican guidelines. “It cannot be reduced to a pure and insignificant biological fact, but rather ‘is a fundamental component of personality, one of its modes of being, of manifestation, of communicating with others, of feeling, of expressing and of living human love.’”

Being male or female “pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God,” he said in his 2012 Christmas address.

Sex distinctions are so deeply etched into human nature that they exist even in the next life, Benedict further explained in the 2004 letter on feminism. Manhood and womanhood belong “ontologically to creation” and are “destined therefore to outlast the present time, evidently in a transfigured form,” he said, pointing to the image of the feminine Jerusalem, “the Bride of the Lamb,” in the Book of Revelation. 

Though the Christian truth about sex proclaimed by Benedict XVI contradicts gender ideology, it does, in fact, correspond with biological reality. 

Modern biology shows that sex is determined at conception and coded into an individual’s DNA and trillions of cells throughout the body. Sex differences influence the brain “at every level of neuroscience” and lead to disparities between men and women in everything from disease risks to cognitive and emotional processes.

“Barring genetic disorders, females contain two X chromosomes in every nucleated somatic cell, and males possess an X and a Y chromosome in every nucleated somatic cell,” according to the American College of Pediatricians. “Interventions that alter a person’s sexual appearance do not alter the person’s genetic code.”

Male and female: Created for each other

While emphasizing the differences between the sexes, Benedict also stressed their fundamental complementarity, another basic anthropological fact threatened by gender theory and related ideologies, especially LGBT ideology.

Rejection of sexual complementarity underpins same-sex “marriage,” which relies on the premises that sex doesn’t matter for marriage and that men and women don’t need each other for fulfillment.

Benedict refuted these errors in his teachings, emphasizing that men and women are created explicitly to perfect each other — and not members of the same sex. 

According to their God-given nature, man and woman possess a “physical, psychological and ontological complementarity.”

He reaffirmed the complementarity of male and female in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, again referring to Genesis, in which God declares, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18).

“Of all other creatures, not one is capable of being the helper that man needs,” Benedict wrote. “So God forms woman from the rib of man. Now Adam finds the helper that he needed: ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’” (Gen 2:23). 

Here, Scripture contains “the idea that only in communion with the opposite sex can he become ‘complete,’” the pontiff said.

Benedict discussed the same theme at length in his letter denouncing feminism:

Formed by God and placed in the garden which he was to cultivate, the man, who is still referred to with the generic expression Adam, experienced a loneliness which the presence of the animals is not able to overcome. He needs a helpmate who will be his partner. The term here does not refer to an inferior, but to a vital helper. This is so that Adam’s life does not sink into a sterile and, in the end, baneful encounter with himself.

Only woman, “created from the same ‘flesh’ and cloaked in the same mystery, can give a future to the life of the man,” he wrote.

According to their God-given nature, man and woman possess a “physical, psychological and ontological complementarity” resulting in a “harmonious relationship of ‘uni-duality,’” Benedict said. Original sin introduced disharmony and concupiscence into that relationship but did not destroy its essential order and goodness.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the development of which Benedict presided over, similarly teaches that “man and woman were made ‘for each other,’” willed by God “to be a communion of persons” and “complementary as masculine and feminine.” 

The truth of marriage is inscribed in the ‘human spirit’ 

Created by God to complete one another, men and women are not made for any casual relationship but for marriage: the total gift of self and indissoluble union of spirit and body.

Benedict XVI adamantly defended the true nature of marriage as between one man and one woman and ordered to procreation. His theology of marriage once again begins with Genesis, which affirms marriage as inherent in the nature of man and woman: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

Commenting on this in Deus Caritas Est, Benedict wrote, “Adam is a seeker, who ‘abandons his mother and father’ in order to find woman; only together do the two represent complete humanity and become ‘one flesh.’” 

“From the standpoint of creation, eros directs man towards marriage, to a bond which is unique and definitive; thus, and only thus, does it fulfil its deepest purpose,” he added. 

Genesis also reveals the fundamental orientation of marriage to procreation, Benedict explained:

God has willed to give the union of man and woman a special participation in his work of creation. Thus, he blessed the man and the woman with the words ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen. 1:28). Therefore, in the Creator’s plan, sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage.

Fruitful marriage likewise belongs to the nature of the sexes: Sexual difference, Benedict wrote, “expresses that form of love with which man and woman, by becoming one flesh, as Sacred Scripture says, can achieve an authentic communion of people open to the transmission of life and who thus cooperate with God in the procreation of new human beings.”

“God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life,” he said in his homily at the World Meeting of Families in 2012.

More recently, as pope emeritus, he wrote, “the community of male and female and openness to the transmission of life determine the essence of what is called marriage.”

Movements and ideologies may assail the principles of marriage, but they can never eradicate them from human nature, Benedict insisted:

No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.

Homosexual unions ‘absolutely’ contradict natural law, God’s design for marriage

The truth of marriage and sexuality radically excludes homosexuality in particular, Benedict XVI taught. 

As a cardinal and as pope, he reaffirmed the intrinsic evil and disorder of same-sex relationships, which can never constitute marriage or anything “even remotely” similar to it, in his words.

“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,” he wrote in the CDF’s blistering 2003 condemnation of legal recognition for same-sex unions.

Homosexual relationships are “totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family” and “the conjugal dimension, which represents the human and ordered form of sexuality,” he added. 

“Marriage is holy,” Benedict underlined, “while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law” and cannot “contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race.”

In other words, same-sex relationships are so perverse that they “absolutely” fail to resemble even a shadow of marriage. Sterile, sinful, and devoid of complementarity, they lack every defining characteristic of marriage and the family. 

Raising children in such an environment, deprived of a mother or a father, “would actually mean doing violence to these children,” he wrote.

Such relationships naturally cannot reflect authentic love. They are “essentially self-indulgent” and “do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity,” Benedict wrote in the CDF’s 1986 letter on pastoral care for homosexuals. “Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living.”

Benedict accordingly described same-sex “marriages” as “pseudo-marriages,” in contrast to the “legitimate family.” Raising children in such an environment, deprived of a mother or a father, “would actually mean doing violence to these children,” he wrote.

The homosexual inclination itself, far from something to celebrate, is also “objectively disordered,” he clarified.

Throughout his papacy, Benedict XVI warned in stark terms against legal approval of same-sex relationships, which he denounced as a “serious error” and one of “today’s most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good.”

“Whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international,” he said in his 2008 World Day of Peace message. 

Benedict also identified clear connections between homosexuality and gender ideology, both of which attack the very foundations of human nature, with devastating consequences.

The homosexual lifestyle “constantly threatens to destroy” those who practice it, he wrote in the CDF’s 1986 letter, pointing to the spiritual harm of grievous sin as well as the life-threatening dangers of sodomy.

LGBT activist groups reflect a “materialistic ideology,” not unlike gender theory, “which denies the transcendent nature of the human person, as well as the supernatural vocation of every individual,” he said. 

Gender theory, Benedict noted, actually gave rise to the LGBT movement and its “new model of polymorphous sexuality” that makes homosexuality and heterosexuality “virtually equivalent.” 

“If there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation,” he observed in his Christmas address in 2012.

And like gender theory, homosexuality reflects a false sense of freedom according to which a “human being can do to himself or herself whatever he or she likes,” Benedict said in a speech to the diocesan convention of Rome in 2005. “This pseudo-freedom is based on a trivialization of the body, which inevitably entails the trivialization of the person.”

READ: The ‘Synodal Way’ wants to reverse Catholic teaching on homosexuality. Here’s why that’s impossible

While dissident Catholics today agitate for doctrinal change on homosexuality, Benedict repeatedly made clear that the Church’s teaching on the matter is definitively settled.

“The Church cannot cease to proclaim that in accordance with God’s plans (cf. Mt 19: 3-9), marriage and the family are irreplaceable and permit no other alternatives,” Benedict declared in one of his first letters as pope.

Contemporary Catholic teaching against homosexuality “is in organic continuity with the Scriptural perspective and with her own constant Tradition,” he wrote in the CDF’s 1986 letter on homosexuality.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes this, stating: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’” “Under no circumstances can they be approved,” it adds.