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Dr. John Haas delivers the commencement address at the 2023 Christendom College graduation ceremony in Front Royal, VirginiaYouTube/Screenshot

FRONT ROYAL, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) — Dr. John Haas, a moral theologian and former member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, revealed in a May 13 commencement speech given at Christendom College that in 2014, then-retired Pope Benedict XVI told him in a private conversation in the Vatican that “the next great challenge the Church is going to face is gender ideology, and it will be the ultimate rebellion against God the Creator.”

Speaking to the 114 graduates of Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, Haas admitted that he was “surprised” by Pope Benedict’s unsolicited comment, and added that he now sees Benedict “was prophetic. We have been hit with a tsunami of transgender ideology.”

As an example, the former president of the National Bioethics Center mentioned that “Catholic health care institutions are being sued because they refuse to perform mutilating surgeries on men who want to be surgically altered to look like women or women who want to appear as men. Catholic academic institutions are also being sued and attacked as they simply try to continue to give witness to the truth of their students being either male or female.”

Haas received on this occasion from Christendom College the St. Thomas More medal for Defense of the Faith and Holy Mother Church.

In his last Christmas address to the Roman Curia as acting pope in 2012, Benedict XVI himself had elaborated on the dangers of the gender theory. Referring to the famous quote of French author Simone de Beauvoir, “one is not born a woman, one becomes so,” the pope then explained that “these words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term ‘gender’ as a new philosophy of sexuality.”

Further expounding on this destructive theory, the pontiff went on to say: “According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society.”

For him, the “profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it” is “obvious.”

Pope Benedict then reminded his audience of the biblical creation account, according to which “being created by God as male and 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.”

But today’s gender theory rejects this plan. Benedict continued by saying: “Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will.” “From now on,” he added, “there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be.”

This new concept has very destructive consequences for the family, the late pope explained. “If there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation,” Pope Benedict expounded, “then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him.”

In summary, the rejection of God as Creator leads to the loss of the human dignity. “The defence of the family is about man himself,” according to the pope. “And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.”

Only a few months after this Christmas address, in February of 2013, Pope Benedict XVI resigned the papacy.

To return to Dr. Haas’ own commencement address on the topic of transgenderism, the moral theologian and father of nine children quoted the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes: “When the Creator is forgotten, the creature itself grows unintelligible.” Comments Haas:

In our day, the Creator has been forgotten, and we now live in a world which is simply unintelligible. We no longer know what a man is or what a woman is. We no longer know what marriage is, what a family is. If we no longer know what such concrete realities are, how will we possibly be able to conceive abstract realities such as justice, fortitude, or charity? When the Creator is forgotten, the creature itself becomes unintelligible.

Therefore, Haas called upon the graduates of Christendom College to oppose this “evil generation,” and not only that, but also to help build a “new Christianity.” Quoting from St. Peter in Acts – “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation!” – Dr. Haas told the young graduates: “ I call on you to heed the apostle’s call but to extend it. Save yourselves from this corrupt generation so that in the years to come you can work to save this corrupt generation.”

As examples of this current “corrupt generation,” the moral theologian mentioned “abortion, same-sex marriage, physician assisted suicide,” and “transgender ideology,” all of which are “attacks on the very image of God.” “Could the world in which you are entering as college graduates be more disordered and confused?” Haas asked.

“Your task will be to help re-order the world,” he continued. “It will be your task to work to bring it once more into alignment with what God created it to be.” Such a “forging of a new Christian society,” he expounded, will “be no easy task,” and it will “require sacrifice, the enduring of social opprobrium, perhaps even martyrdom in some fashion or another.”

Editor’s note, May 20, 2023: The full quote of Pope Benedict’s words to Dr. Haas  were shared by Dr. Haas with LifeSite. Some of that quote was left out of Dr Haas’ address at Christendom College on May 13, 2023. Dr. Haas was pleased that the full quote could be included in LifeSite’s report.

Dr. John Haas is a senior fellow and president emeritus of The National Catholic Bioethics Center, holding a doctorate in moral theology from the Catholic University of America and a licentiate in moral theology from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. Dr. Haas was appointed to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life by Pope Benedict XVI. In 1996 Dr. Haas edited the book “Crisis of Conscience,” which included an essay written by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.