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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Tuesday, September 10, 2019
COMMENTARY: ‘Male and Female He Created Them’ has great potential for Catholic education. Faithful Catholics should pick up this ball and run with it.
Catholic commentators from across the spectrum have criticized the Vatican’s new document on gender theory. Some on the so-called left say Pope Francis didn’t approve the document; others on the so-called right say it is too little too late in stopping the spread of gender ideology from influencing the Church. As I read the Congregation for Catholic Education’s document, I can see why both “sides” might react as they do. So I was surprised when the headmaster of an independent Catholic school told me, “This document is a Godsend to us.” This gentleman is not only a dear friend, but a man of deep loyalty to traditional Catholic sexual ethics. I decided to reread the document from his perspective. Does this document help Catholic educators fulfill their mission?
To be clear, what are the critics criticizing? Those who favor the “LGBT” agenda, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, are angry that the Vatican supports the fact that God created only two sexes. Such critics even consider the title of the document, “Male and Female He Created Them” to be inflammatory.
On the other hand, many of those who are loyal to the magisterium and the traditional teachings of the Church are alarmed by the subtitle: “Toward a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education.” These critics observe that “dialogue” with sexual radicals does not do well at preserving tradition. All too often, “dialogue” translates into the radicals talking until they wear us down. Or worse, they don’t even pretend to dialogue; they take the opportunity provided by “dialogue” to attack. In Gabriele Kuby’s critique of the new Vatican document, she recounts her personal experience with this sort of “dialogue.”
I fully understand. This amateur video posted to my Facebook page from a speaking engagement at the University of California-Santa Barbara captures one of my experiences with “dialogue” with protesters. Certainly, with activists, “compromise” or negotiation is out of the question. Experience has shown that what one side considers compromise, the other side considers a steppingstone. Permit me to say: I’m not a fan of “dialogue” for its own sake.
But the Congregation for Catholic Education is not writing for people like me and others in the commentariat. The primary audience of the Congregation for Catholic Education is Catholic educators. In the daily life of the principal of a Catholic school, he or she must deal with a wide range of people. The constituency of a Catholic school includes the faculty and staff, the parents of children in the school, prospective parents and, of course, the children themselves. And that is just for independent schools. Diocesan or parish or religious-order schools bring another layer of constituents to the headmaster’s or principal’s office: the bishop, the pastor, the abbot. On top of all that, the principal has accrediting agencies, other government entities, donors, the press and the general public. Among these people will be some who are well catechized and enthusiastic for the faith. Others, not so much.
In fact, in today’s climate, some Catholic school administrators must wonder whether the sophisticated lesbian pair in their office asking for their child’s admission to the school is setting a trap that will lead to a lawsuit.
“Dialogue” happens in the principal’s office every day, whether she likes it or not. Permit me to say: I would not be temperamentally suited to this job. Permit me also to say: I am grateful to those who shoulder this job.
The Congregation for Catholic Education’s new document provides clarity for the administration of the Catholic school. They can build that clear teaching into policies and procedures, student and faculty handbooks and similar documents. “No, there will be no open-access bathrooms or locker rooms.” “No, we cannot have a drag show on campus.” “Yes, we are going to participate in sporting leagues that require all participants to compete only against other students of their birth sex.” “Our new family-life curriculum is going to be based on theology of the body.”
As an added public-relations bonus, “Male and Female He Created Them” is a product of Pope Francis’ Vatican, which many consider “gay-friendly”; not Pope Benedict’s Vatican, which has been labeled homophobic.
My friend the headmaster pointed out that “Male and Female He Created Them” provides a backstop against the pressure he faces on all these questions. He can beef up the school’s governing charters with the authority of Rome. Things like the school’s written handbooks can provide protection in legal actions such as discrimination suits, harassment from accrediting agencies and the like. This is a good time to mention something else I noticed in the congregation’s work. Another office in Vatican City, the Pontifical Council for the Family, produced a widely (and justly) criticized sexual-education curriculum, “The Meeting Point: Project for Affective and Sexual Education,” in 2018. Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons described it as “the most dangerous threat to Catholic youth that I have seen over the past 40 years.” Coming from a man who has counseled thousands of victims and survivors of the sexual revolution, that is quite a criticism.
“The Meeting Point” is completely absent from the references in “Male and Female He Created Them.” Instead, we find numerous references to Pope St. John Paul’s corpus, including Familiaris Consortio, Veritatis Splendor, his “Letter to Women” and his great work from his days as a philosophy professor, Love and Responsibility.
I do not pretend to know what is going on in the various quarters of the Vatican. (Being a Vaticanista is another job I am really not temperamentally suited for!) But it appears to me that “Male and Female He Created Them” is a different kettle of fish from many things that have come out of Rome recently. We were beginning to wonder whether the great teaching pontificate of John Paul II had ever even happened. Bringing his work front and center is a great gift to all the Church, especially to Catholic educators. Critics of “Male and Female He Created Them” might argue that the calls for “dialogue” leave an opening for less-than-entirely-faithful interpretations. People who want their Catholic schools to be nothing but private prep schools with crucifixes might find a way to drive a truck through the seemingly clear statements that there are only two sexes. And, indeed, so-called Catholic progressives just might.
I do know one thing: If those faithful to the magisterium ignore this document, or worse, shun it, very likely the “dialoguers” will interpret it the way they want. Unless the faithful contend for the proper interpretation of this document, the less-than-faithful cohort will win by default.
My advice to faithful Catholic administrators and parents is this: Pick up this ball and run with it. It’s your move.
Posted on: Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, announced the launch of a petition to Make the Family Great Again. “The president campaigned on the promise to Make America Great Again. But only the family can help him fulfill that promise,” she said.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo established a Commission on Unalienable Rights to advise his department in its dealings with foreign governments and international organizations. This commission is chaired by pro-life Harvard Law Professor and former Ambassador to the Holy See, Mary Ann Glendon.
The “Make the Family Great Again” petition urges the Commission and the State Department to make these fundamental principles the basis for articulating unalienable rights:
The petition calls on the Commission to work for recognition of:
The petition has been signed by Governor Mike Huckabee, Brent Bozell (Founder and President, Media Research Center), Ted Baehr (Chairman, Christian Film and Television Commission), Fr. Shenan Boquet (President, Human Life International), Janice Shaw Crouse (author, columnist and speaker), Pat Fagan (Director, Marriage and Religion Research Institute), Steve Mosher (President, Population Research Institute), C. Preston Noell (President, American Society for Tradition, Family and Property), and Sharon Slater (President, Family Watch International).
Signers from outside the United States include: Bishop Emmanuel Badejo (Oyo, Nigeria), Moira Chimombo (former Executive Director, Sub-Sahara Family Enrichment, Malawi), Ann Kioko (President, African Organization for Families, Kenya), Lech Kowalewski (board member, Polish Federation of Pro-life Movements), Christa Leonhard (Foundation for Family Values, Germany and the Swiss Foundation for the Family), Warwick and Allison Marsh (Founders, Dads4Kids, Australia), Christine Vollmer (Founder and President, Latin American Alliance for the Family, Venezuela), Andrea Williams (Chief Executive, Christian Concern, United Kingdom), and Levan Vasadez (pro-life activist, Republic of Georgia).
“We are honored to have such distinguished leaders sign our petition,” Morse said. “People around the world are very concerned about US foreign policy. With their support and the leadership of Professor Glendon on the Commission, we have a unique opportunity to help the U.S. State Department champion family rights internationally.”
Sign the Petition to Make the Family Great Again here: https://lifepetitions.com/petition/ask-president-trump-to-make-the-family-great-again
The Ruth Institute is a global interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love. On April 26-27, the Institute held a Summit for Survivors of Sexual Revolution.
Dr. Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.
Find more information on The Ruth Institute at http://www.ruthinstitute.org/.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on: Tuesday, September 03, 2019
The findings of a study of the genetic basis of homosexuality published last week in the journal Science explode the false narrative that being gay is an innate condition that is controlled or largely compelled by one's genetic makeup.
Rebutting decades of search by LGBT scientists for a "gay gene", the study's first author flatly concludes "it will be basically impossible to predict one’s sexual activity or orientation just from genetics”.
This is putting it gently.
The study found that a person's developmental environment--the influence of diet, family, friends, neighbourhood, religion, and a host of other life conditions--was twice as influential as genetics on the probability of adopting same-sex behaviour or orientation. The genetic influence did not come from one or two strong sources but from dozens of genetic variants that each added a small increased propensity for same-sex behaviour.
A genetic arrangement based on a large number of markers across the genome means that virtually all human beings have this arrangement, or large portions of it. In other words, not only did the study fail to find some controlling gene for gay identity, it also established that gay persons are not genetically distinct from all other human beings in any meaningful sense.
Gay persons, we might say, have a perfectly normal human genome.
Proponents of LGBT normalization, which includes the publishing journal and mainstream media reporters, have tried to put the best face on this result. As if the issue were tolerance of gay people's lifestyle choices, the New York Times quotes one of the authors saying, “I hope that the science can be used to educate people a little bit more about how natural and normal same-sex behaviour is”. LGBT activists declared that the study "provides even more evidence that being gay or lesbian is a natural part of human life".
Indeed, the study found that genetic propensity for same-sex behaviour is not very different from that of 28 other complex traits or behaviours and is related to a propensity for other risk-taking behaviour such as smoking, drug use, number of sex partners or a general openness to new experience.
But the longstanding and emphatic claim of gay activists in law and public policy has not been that same-sex activity reflects upbringing or lifestyle factors, but is an inborn difference that is discovered, not developed; a distinct and fixed element of a person's nature that is unchangeable.
Emotionally and sexually, same-sex orientation is not a matter of who persons choose to become, they have claimed, but who they already are.
A linchpin of the evidential basis for the US Supreme Court decision sanctioning same-sex marriage, for example, was that same-sex orientation reflected an "immutable nature [which] dictate[d] that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment." (Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, p. 4).
And the point of conflict for tolerance today is not so much for people who want to identify themselves as gay or lesbian, but for people who want, for themselves personally, to avoid or resist such an identification.
On the grounds that they would be denying their immutable nature, numerous legislative and judicial efforts are currently underway to outlaw voluntary therapy for or deny the legitimacy of adults who experience some level of same-sex attraction but do not want to engage in same-sex relations or identify themselves as gay or lesbian.
In the very jurisdictions where persons with same-sex orientation are now free to identify as gay and to engage in same-sex marriage, LGBT ideologues are working to deny the same persons the freedom to decline to identify as gay and to engage in opposite-sex marriage, on the premise that they would thereby be doing violence to who they really are.
This study pulls the rug out from under such thinking.
If gay and lesbian persons are genetically normal, what basis is there for considering them a distinct, protected class subject to preferential treatment under the law or for prohibiting other genetically normal persons from refusing to engage in same-sex behaviour?
The study finds that most persons with the identical genotype as gay or lesbian persons (by an approximate ratio of 2 to 1) end up, for various reasons of social environment or development or personal principle, not engaging in same-sex relations. Shouldn't such persons have equal freedom and legitimacy to do so?
In a free society that values personal autonomy, it is not an appropriate function of law to penalize personal lifestyle choices, no matter how vehemently some may disagree with them or politically incorrect they may be. If it ever did make sense on the premise that gay persons were born that way, in the absence of such a compelling genetic difference, it is impossible to reasonably maintain that tolerance of homosexual behaviour requires intolerance of heterosexual behaviour.
In light of these implications, some of the scientists involved in the study, who are themselves gay, have publicly opposed its publication. Strikingly unaware of their own bias, they expressed concern that the study findings would be "misconstrued" to "advance agendas of hate".
In less heated language, they are concerned that it might be interpreted in ways with which they disagree. For them, the benefits of increased understanding of human behaviour in this area did not outweigh the perceived negative political implications of the findings for the expression of gay identity.
The lead authors of the study, some of whom are also gay, are to be commended for resisting the impulse to suppress scientific evidence for the sake of political expediency. Although sadly often violated today, the conviction that the dissemination of evidence and ideas should not be censored by political considerations is fundamental to modern science.
While we can dispute, hopefully with mutual respect, who may be being hateful to whom in their interpretation of the results, in the end we will all find our best modus vivendi on the basis of policy and law that reflects solid objective evidence, honestly presented, as this study exemplifies.
Or as a wise man once said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free".
Rev. D. Paul Sullins recently retired as Professor of Sociology at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. He is a Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute. Dr. Sullins is a leader in the field of research on same-sex parenting and its implications for child development. He has written four books and over 100 journal articles, research reports, and essays on issues of family, faith, and culture.