Pope says gender theory is 'ugly ideology' that threatens humanity

Pope says gender theory is 'ugly ideology' that threatens humanity

Pope Francis on Friday warned of the dangers of gender theory, saying he had commissioned studies into what he condemned as an "ugly ideology" that threatens humanity.

Addressing participants of a two-day conference in the Vatican on the evolving role of men and women according to Christian teachings, Francis said what he called "gender ideology" was a threat because it sought to erase the difference between the sexes.

"I have asked that studies be carried out into this ugly ideology of our times, which cancels out the differences and makes everything the same," the Pope said.

"Cancelling out the differences means cancelling out humanity."

Ailing Pope gets aide to read speech

Gender theory, often called gender ideology by its detractors, suggests that gender is more complex and fluid than the binary categories of male and female, and depends on more than visible sex characteristics.

A man in white and a white skullcap leans on a cane. Two other man stand nearby, one with an empty wheelchair.
Pope Francis moves to his wheelchair in the Vatican on Dec. 30. The 87-year-old has had multiple health issues. (Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)

He said he remembered reading a "prophetic" book called Lord of the World — a dystopian novel published in 1907 by a Catholic priest about a world where religion has no place — which warned of the risk of cancelling out differences between people.

"Read it if you have time, because it speaks of these problems of today," the Pope told his visitors.

The 87-year-old pontiff said he was still suffering from a recent cold and had asked an aide to read his speech, but first wanted to "underline" his feelings on gender theory.

Francis, who has been hospitalized three times since becoming pope in 2013, began using a wheelchair and cane to walk after suffering knee trouble last year. 

The pontiff had cancelled appointments last Saturday and Monday due to a persistent, but "mild flu," but appeared as usual for the Sunday blessing from a window overlooking St. Peter's Square.

Last week, Francis coughed repeatedly as he presided over Ash Wednesday services at a Roman church, and opted not to participate in the traditional procession that inaugurates the church's Lenten season.

Over the past few months, Francis had to cancel a few activities and one international trip due to his fragile health, which has recently raised worries over his capacity to continue to lead the Catholic Church. 

The Argentine Pope had part of one lung removed as a young man because of a respiratory infection, and in 2021 had a piece of his colon removed because of an intestinal inflammation. He has been using a wheelchair and cane since last year because of strained knee ligaments and a small knee fracture that have made walking and standing difficult.