4th October 2016
The Pope has been caught up in a row with France’s Socialist government after he claimed that school textbooks in France encouraged pupils to change sex.
Francis accused ministers of indoctrinating children with the idea that they were free to choose their gender.
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the education minister, criticised the Pope’s remarks and said that he was repeating “inanities” propagated by extremist Christians.
Catholics in France have claimed that the education minister is trying to introduce an idea in schools that gender is not so much determined by genes as by social custom and is therefore reversible. Ms Vallaud-Belkacem has denied this. She said that she was merely trying to break down stereotypes that often portray women as nurses, for instance, and men as engineers.
The Pope accused President Hollande’s government of the “wicked” indoctrination of French children with gender theory.
Speaking on the papal plane on Sunday, he recounted a meeting with the father of a ten-year-old French boy who asked his son what he wanted to be when he grew up. “A girl,” the boy answered, according to the Pope, who denounced the idea that gender is a choice, claiming that it was “against nature”.
The Pope also decried gender theory as a threat to marriage, warning that “there is a global war out to destroy marriage ... not with weapons, but with ideas”. He added: “We have to defend ourselves from ideological colonisation.”
Ms Vallaud-Belkacem accused the Pope of making “unfounded” remarks. “The Pope seems to have been convinced that French teachers spend their time explaining to children that there is a possibility to change sex,” she said. “I invite families to open their children’s school textbooks and stop all these inanities.”
Despite his opposition to changing genders, the Pope told journalists on his way back from a trip to the Caucasus that the church should never turn away a transgender person. “These people must be accompanied, as Jesus accompanied them,” he said.
He also recalled a Spanish man who had written to him to explain how he had been born a woman before having a sex-change operation and later marrying a woman. “And I received them. And they were happy,” the Pope said.
He praised the bishop who had accompanied the man during his sex change and criticised the man’s parish priest, who would shout “You’ll go to hell” when he saw the man in the street.
When dealing with transgender people, the church should try to “in each case welcome, accompany, discern and integrate them into the life of the church,” he added. “This is what Jesus would do today.”
The Pope was praised two years ago when he said “Who am I to judge?” when asked for his views on homosexuality.
On Sunday he spoke again about his attitude to gay people, saying that he had “accompanied people with homosexual tendencies and even homosexual activity. I accompanied them. I helped them draw closer to the Lord, although some couldn’t, but I never abandoned them.”
Concluding his answer about transgender people, he appeared cautious, telling journalists: “Please don’t write, ‘The Pope blesses trans’. Please.”
Every child comes from and needs BOTH a mother and a father. Same-sex "marriage" intentionally keeps either a mother or a father from the child. Government should protect the child through upholding traditional marriage.
There is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak”. (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Now is the time to speak, so please speak up and defend children, truth and freedom. Craig Manners
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