Sunday, February 17, 2013

Theologian in Residence - by Cornelius Sullivan

Viva Benedetto!

February 17, 2013
By Cornelius Sullivan

After his abdication as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church Cardinal Ratzinger will continue to be what he has always been, Theologian in Residence. He has realized that he can no longer be a visible apostle.

Not yet a Bishop or Cardinal, looking like the actor James Dean, Father Joseph Ratzinger was a young behind the scenes theological adviser even before the Second Vatican Council began.

Last Thursday Pope Benedict reminisced about those times, relaxed after his big announcement from earlier in the week, and without a written text, speaking to the clergy of Rome, “He told of how Cardinal Frings of Cologne asked him in 1961 to write about 'The Council and the World of Modern Thought’. (In 2005 Pope Benedict made his first foreign trip as Pope to Cologne World Youth Day.) Frings presented the text to the public and was then summoned to Rome by Pope John XXIII. Benedict said Cardinal Fring, “was afraid he had perhaps said maybe something incorrect, false, and that he had been asked to come for a reprimand, perhaps even to deprive him of his red hat. Pope John came towards him and hugged him, saying, 'Thank you, Your Eminence, you said things I have wanted to say, but I had not found the words to say.’ Thus, the Cardinal knew he was on the right track, and I was invited to accompany him to the Council.” 1.

Benedict has been the preeminent theologian serving the Church ever since.

Father Robert Barron has been asked to asses Pope Benedict’s legacy. He made a video:
Barron pointed out three things; Benedict has been an interpreter of Vatican II, secondly he has talked about what the Church says “yes” to, the joy of the Faith, and finally Barron mentions his Christo-centric theology. About the latter Barron said that “it is unprecedented in the history of the papacy that a reigning pope would write a major work of theology, the book he always wanted to write, on Jesus.”

My own related list of enduring contributions begins with Benedict’s emphasis on the importance of beauty. I often quote his one short sentence that is so big, “The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely, the saints the Church has produced and the artwhich has grown in her womb.” 2.

Benedict, the scholar, does not mention the Church’s academic tradition, he points out two realities were the Faith is en-fleshed and that inspire pilgrimages, to Assisi because of Saint Francis, and to the Sistine Chapel for sacred art.

Theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar spoke of beauty in a way similar to Benedict when he said, “Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past -- whether he admits it or not -- can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.” 3.  

About sacred art and linking the trinity of beauty, truth, and goodness, that link that Balthasar and Benedict understand, John Saward said, “Robbed of sacred art, the Christian can become blind to the beauty of Divine Revelation. And that is disastrous, for, when sundered from beauty, truth becomes correctness without splendor and goodness a value of no delight.” 4.

Benedict has written eloquently and repeatedly about the importance of Sacred Art, Sacred Music, and reverent liturgy. Even though the guitar Mass still persists as a misguided Aggiornamento of Vatican II, Pope Benedict has always insisted that we have better. Speaking about music he links the beautiful with the true. “The encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes, so that later, from this experience, we take the criteria for judgment and can correctly evaluate the arguments. For me an unforgettable experience was the Bach concert that Leonard Bernstein conducted in Munich after the sudden death of Karl Richter. I was sitting next to the Lutheran Bishop Hanselmann. When the last note of one of the great Thomas-Kantor-Cantatas triumphantly faded away, we looked at each other spontaneously and right then we said: "Anyone who has heard this, knows that the faith is true." The music had such an extraordinary force of reality that we realized, no longer by deduction, but by the impact on our hearts, that it could not have originated from nothingness, but could only have come to be through the power of the Truth that became real in the composer's inspiration.” 5.

Secondly, I have noticed that Pope Benedict has developed what I call a “Theology of the Face”, (not analogous to Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, a collection of thematically linked writings from many years), but a theme that Benedict has embraced and spoken about repeatedly, the face of God. That phrase has now become a part of the Mass. A journalist has written, “(Pope) Benedict explained that Dante's Divine Comedy had inspired him to write his first encyclical on love. (Deus Caritas Est) In the inner light of Dante's paradise, we do not encounter a still brighter light, but instead the gentle face of a human being: the face of Jesus Christ. The fact that God has a "human face" is the moving climax of Dante's journey from hell to paradise. 6.

And Benedict has made pilgrimages to Turin to see the image of the man on the Shroud and in 2006 to Manoppello in the Abruzzi Mountains to see the “Holy Face” of Jesus on cloth. He said, “Should we not see in God’s hiding of himself the true catastrophe of the world, and therefore all the more loudly and urgently cry out to God that he show his face to us?” At World Youth Day in 2007 the headline was,“ Pope Urges Youth to Search for God’s Face”. He called his book Jesus of Nazareth his “Search for the Face of the Lord”.

Benedict’s Theology of the Face is in tune with his idea that the revitalization of the Faith should be a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and not a philosophical system or an institutional advancement. It is not unrelated to John Paul’s Theology of the Body in that both have to do with the dignity of the human person, and that both are in opposition to the materialism of Enlightenment philosophy, and to the idea that truth is relative.

Another theme of Benedict’s reign has been his assertion of the compatibility of Faith and Reason and of his recognition of the tyranny of relativism.
Theologian Michael Waldstein in the introduction to his translation of Pope John Paul II's The Theology of the Body says that, "The scientific rationalism spearheaded by Descartes (Philosopher Rene Descartes in 1613) is above all an attack on the body. Its first principle is that the human body, together with all matter, shall be seen as an object of power. Form and final cause must therefore be eliminated from it. The response to such a violent scientific-technological attack on the body must be a defense of the body in its natural intrinsic meaning. The spousal mystery is the primary place at which this defense must take place, because the highest meaning of the body is found there."

Waldstein quotes the philosopher Pope John Paul II countering Descartes' dualism, "The philosopher who formulated the principle of "cogito, ergo sum"-I think, therefore I am- also gave the modern concept of man its distinctive dualistic character. It is typical of rationalism to make a radical contrast in man between spirit and body, between body and spirit. But man is a person in the unity of his body and spirit. The body can never be reduced to mere matter; It is a spiritualized body, just as man's spirit is so closely united to the body that can be described as an embodied spirit." 7.
I have been enlightened by Waldstein in understanding how Descartes’ dualism has led to an end to figurative art and to the assent of Abstract Art and to the acceptance of a completely disembodied art, art as just an idea, that is called Conceptual Art.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was asked by his fellow Black Ministers how he chose which laws to break for righteousness. He said the ones that violate natural law. The Catholic Church has been the consistent voice, supported by natural law, in opposition to Enlightenment’s materialistic attacks on the value of the individual human person.

Another legacy of Pope Benedict, that is ongoing and is still developing, involves the fruits of his trip to England. It looked to be an imminent disaster, with even threats of his arrest, and many demonstrations, but he captivated the island. It was a moving visit where the culturally advanced British relished the intellectual depth of his words. It was the first state visit of a Roman Pontiff since the Reformation. He did not see Queen Elizabeth as the head of the church that broke from Rome because of the king’s divorce. He praised Her Majesty as an enduring consistent Christian Monarch and she acknowledged his moral presence in the world.

We have seen Pope Benedict’s joy and he has many times surprised the world with his boldness. Viva Benedetto!

1. Robert Moynihan, The Moynihan LettersFebruary 14, 2013.
2. The Ratzinger Report  Messori, 1988.
3. Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological
Aesthetics: Seeing the Form, #1, 1982.
4. John Saward, The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty, Ignatius Press 1997.
5. Message to Communion and Liberation, August 2002RiminiItaly, made available May 2, 2005, Zenit)     
6. Paul Badde, Inside the Vatican Magazine, March, 2006, page 8.
7. John Paul II, Man and Women He Created Them, A Theology of the Body, Translated by Michael Waldstein, 2006.

Cornelius Sullivan home

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cardinal Arinze's Comment on Pope Benedict's Announcement

Michael Cook | Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A pure, gem-like flame

A good man, but a poor Pope? Think again.

After a week in Rome last November I flew into London. It was late in the evening and the closely-cropped immigration officer had probably been dreaming about abusing a referee in tomorrow’s soccer match. He looked me up and down and said, “so what have you been doing in Rome, eh?” I hadn’t been expecting this Stasi-like interrogation and I responded a bit defiantly, “Seeing the Pope”.

“The Pope, eh?” said the officer. “And did he have anything to say for himself?”
Three months later, that is the question that everyone is asking. Benedict XVI has announced that he is abdicating, the first pope in 600 years to do so. Does he have anything to say for himself?

For many journalists the answer was no. Greg Sheridan, of The Australian, wrote, “Benedict XVI is a good man but a poor Pope.”

But how do you measure the success of a Pope, the spiritual leader of a billion-plus Catholics, and a benchmark for Christian teaching for millions of others? Twitter followers? B16 only has 1,536,000 and Paris Hilton has 9,751,000. Is she a better communicator, a more influential thinker, a more inspiring example?

The core business of Catholicism is evangelisation, helping people to fall in love with God. As @Pontifex said in one of his last tweets, “Every human being is loved by God the Father. No one need feel forgotten, for every name is written in the Lord's loving Heart.”
The monsignori whispering their petty complaints to journalists in the colonnade, the thieving butler, the red ink in the Vatican book – none of these matter much for a Pope. Or rather, they only matter as obstacles to his mission. The journalists who focus on process are missing the real story.

And by that standard, history will probably account Benedict XVI a success. When I visited St Peter’s Square that Sunday in November, tens of thousands of people were there to see him speak at noon from his balcony window – Italians, Americans, Russians, Koreans, Spaniards, Chinese. Most of them were youngish; many were obviously honeymoon couples.

This morning I was on a train to work when a lawyer friend hailed me and sat beside me. “Did you hear the news?” he asked. We chatted about the resignation. “You know,” he said. “He’s in Rome, but he was very influential in my entering the Catholic Church last year. He is so gentle and prayerful and his writings are so piercingly intelligent. It’s amazing that he had such influence on me from so far away.”

As the years pass, Benedict XVI’s legacy will become clearer. But I would highlight six key contributions.

Benedict as a defender of Christian culture. As an analyst of Western culture, he has no peer. The 21st century is experiencing a radical rupture with its Christian past as a process of secularization which began with the French Revolution. Benedict has used his bully pulpit to warn politicians and intellectuals that expelling God from public life will have disastrous consequences.

He has made a number of stunning speeches in Paris in 2008in London in 2010, and in Berlin in 2011 about the consequences of deChristianisation. He told French intellectuals: “A purely positivistic culture which tried to drive the question concerning God into the subjective realm, as being unscientific, would be the capitulation of reason, the renunciation of its highest possibilities, and hence a disaster for humanity.”

Benedict as a defender of reason. In an often-quoted speech just before he was elected, he said, “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.” Paradoxically, modern culture has less and less respect for reason as it distances itself from truth. Time and time again, Benedict pointed out that the world around is only intelligible if it comes from the hands of a Creator. And without truth, politics becomes a game of thrones and science loses prestige.

Benedict as a defender of tradition. In the Catholic world, “tradition” is not crusty conservatism, but faithfully passing on, from one generation to the next, the teachings of its founder in all their original integrity. One of Benedict’s strong points has been a tremendous sensitivity to the centuries of tradition in the Church. Every Wednesday for years he gave talks on contributions made by saints from the early years of Christianity. Unlike many radical theologians, he refused to interpret Vatican II as a radical break with the past. Instead, he insisted that nothing good from the past was truly outmoded. He called this the “hermeneutic of continuity”, as opposed to the “hermeneutic of rupture and reform”. 

Benedict as an evangelizer. Media critiques have focused on empty pews and empty seminaries in Europe. This is the result of corrosive secularization stretching back many, many decades, long before his election, or even before the Vatican Council. But like John Paul II, Benedict sees a new springtime for Christianity beneath the snows of a secularized culture. He created a new section in the Vatican which is dedicated to the new evangelization. The clarity of his message and his encouragement have given new optimism to Christians all over the world.

Benedict as the West’s link with Islam. The media are recycling the myth that Benedict poisoned relations with Islam. This is superficial and wrong-headed. If anything, his call for a united front against secularization has attracted Muslims. Admittedly, his Regensburg address in 2006 caused great consternation, but he put his finger on the difference between Islam and Christianity: that the God of Islam is pure will, above and beyond reason, and that the God of Christianity is creative reason, ordering and guiding the world.

But he delivered the same message – in slightly different words – in a mosque in Jordan in 2009, to great applause. The West’s engagement with the Islamic world will be one of the great challenges of the 21st century; Benedict has created a framework for understanding our differences. Both the Pope and President Obama have reached out to the Muslim world. But if you were a Muslim, whom would you respect more? A pious priest who worships the Almighty, or a president who showers bombs on Afghan weddings and confetti on gay marriages? 

Benedict as a reformer. The Pope has been bitterly criticized for sexual abuse within the Church. Time will show that this is absurd. Shortly before his election, he bitterly lamented “How much filth there is in the Church, even among those who, in the priesthood, should belong entirely to Him.” He was aware of how much had to be done and as Pope he was unsparing in his treatment of proven abusers. He wrote a severe letter to the people of Ireland to castigate their bishops and demand reform and penance.
* * * * *
"A poor Pope"? I’d say, a poor analyst. As Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger burned with the pure gem-like flame of transcendent intellectual clarity which puts his critics to shame. Critics like the teeth-gnashing pope of atheism, Richard Dawkins. He tweeted, “I feel sorry for the Pope and all old Catholic priests. Imagine having a wasted life to look back on and no sex.”

The best response to such tripe is to quote the first Pope: “To silence, by honest living, the ignorant chatter of fools; that is what God expects of you.” By that standard Benedict XVI has been all that Catholics expected of him, and more.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.
This article was first published by Michael Cook and under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines

Non Habemus Papam

February 11, 2013

Soon we will not have a Pope. Pope Benedict XVI will retire to a monastery inside the Vatican to pray, he will no longer be the Holy Father but may remain like a God Father, not the Cosa Nostra type, more like the mostly unseen spiritual presence assumed by Catholic godfathers when they become baptismal sponsors. He has yet to define what his new title will be. He will be Cardinal Ratzinger.

It is easy and natural to joke about such events as the retirement of a pope because humor involves the clashes of matrixes. A friend said that the conclave should elect Joseph Ratzinger. This announcement is shocking because it is counter-traditional and we thought we knew Ratzinger as a traditional pope. He has surprised at times with his daring.

Perhaps his decision can be best understood if we look at the theme of his pontificate, which is the compatibility of faith and reason. Not long ago I was struck by what Vatican Art Historian, Elizabeth Lev, said in the room in the Vatican Museum, that was once the private study of Pope Julius II, the Stanza della Segnatura, with the Raphael frescos of The School of Athens and The Disputation on the Holy Sacrament. She said these paintings used to be called Theology and Philosophy, but now, in the reign of Pope Benedict XVII, they can be called Faith and Reason.

The Vatican journalist who has been the voice of Vaticano, the EWTN television weekly of Vatican news, David Kerr, said today that Pope Benedict has supplanted the 17th and 18th Century Enlightenment errors that separated faith and reason and the idea that religion should exist only in the private sphere. Kerr said that Benedict knows the tyranny of Relativism and has stressed that Christianity is not a philosophical system but rather a personal relationship. 

Benedict was daring at Regensberg, has been bold with candid interviews, and has dared to do Twitter. He never tried to emulate his revered predecessor. Not an actor, he could not be other than the university professor that he is. Bishops from around the world used to be interviewed individually. He changed the format to interviews with groups of fourteen. He conducted them as if they were university seminars.

Two weeks ago I watched the film, a collaboration of Italian TV RAI called, “We have a Pope”, “Habemus Papam”. It was made in 2011. A Cardinal is elected pope and at the time for him to appear on the balcony in front of the faithful in Saint Peter's Square, he has an anxiety attack. Remarkably the Vatican press is able to keep the world at bay for a long time saying that the new pope is in reflection, as he hides in the Vatican. Then he escapes and stays in a hotel in Rome. The charade continues. A search finds him and he finally consents to make the balcony appearance in full papal regalia. Then he- should I ruin the ending? I was dissappointed because the ending reminded me of the cheap suicide endings to films from the seventies. The author ran out of ideas. That is what a Hollywood critic said about this ending. I could not help but wonder what effect the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, a quarter of a century, in a place where history is measured in centuries, had on the writers of this film. Papa Wojtyla gave all and showed us how to die as his mentor, his Lord, had done. It was a striking contrast because in the film the man’s refusal was not based upon anything that we could understand. On the other hand, Pope Benedict’s decision has a unique character that will become understood eventually as being courageous and right for the Church and for the time.

This is a serious announcement no doubt chosen to be on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes “The Day of the Sick”. Out of curiosity, I looked to see what the liturgical calendar would say about February 28th. It is “Thursday of the Second Week of Lent,” not remarkable. It seems as though the choices of these dates, sacred for the former, and mundane, end of the month, for the latter, say something about the real world practicality of this decision.

Because Pope Benedict is the most articulate and clear writer, we can understand his reasoning from his own statement. There may be at some time more particular revelations about his health, but at this point, we can put to rest any conspiracy theories. No one knew this was coming and he said, “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.” And “with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome.

This decision shows independence and a special humility. If you are “the chosen one” you might think that the ministry depends only on you. Pope Benedict could have created a papal substitute of some sort to sit through the three hour Masses at Saint Peter's during Holy Week, or carry the cross at the Coliseum on Good Friday, or go to Rio for World Youth Day, and he could remain Holy Father, Theologian in Chief, in his study. He did say “The pope will be in Rio, whether it is me or my successor.” He has understood that the successor to Saint Peter needs to be an apostle, which means going out to spread the Gospel.

With events like this, many of us wish that things could stay the same, stay as they are. After eight years, Papa Ratzinger has settled in as pope. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that the only thing constant is change. He appears in the foreground of Raphael’s School of Athens. He is the solid sculptural figure that the painter added last, only after Bramante, Pope Julius II’s architect, was able to sneak him into the Sistine Chapel to see the great revolution in painting that the sculptor had made on the ceiling. Raphael embraced change and realized that he must learn a new way to paint because of what he had seen, and in tribute he made his Hericlitus a portrait of  Michelangelo. 

I will miss seeing Papa Benedetto regularly. I will imagine him writing his books and still being (perhaps not walking briskly as he did) in the Vatican Gardens. Vatacanista Princess Alessandra Borghese, who has known him and dined with him with German Princess Gloria Thurn und Taxis, has said convincingly and with sincerity, that he is a sweet man. We have come to see that. He reintroduced two places for silence in the Mass, after the homily, and after communion. At those times you could see him praying and presenting the posture of prayer. Pope Saint Gregory I in 590 initially used the phrase to describe a pope, “Servant of the Servants of God.” It was repeated by Pope Benedict when he assumed his office.

The School of Athens, Raphael, Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican Museum

Cornelius Sullivan home

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The expanding gender agenda

Students at progressive universities are in the vanguard of a sexual identity movement that is in denial about reality.

Last month The New York Times published an article on the latest expansion of sexual identity among students at progressive universities in the United States. LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) no longer covers it, according to a handful of students who seem to have nothing better to do than reinvent themselves. “Generation LGBTQIA” want recognition for queer, intersex and asexual proclivities as well. According to the Times, this list by no means is final but continually being added to as students “move beyond the binary of male/female”, heterosexual/homosexual and reject the normal.

Most people are unaware of the inroads made by gender theory -- the ideology that has produced “Generation LBGTQIA” -- or of the dangers it presents. Part of the confusion lies in the fact that there are several different theories of gender each of which is based on a false understanding of the human person. The various theories -- the gender perspective, gender identity and expression, and gender queer -- are not logically consistent and are continually changing, making it difficult for those who try to critique them.

The term “gender” has become ubiquitous. The forms we routinely fill out, which previously asked for our sex, now asked for our gender. Most people assumed that gender was simply a polite synonym for sex – preferable since sex has a secondary meaning, namely as a shortened form for sexual intercourse. But those pushing the use of “gender” did not do so out of an over-scrupulous sense of propriety, for them gender and sex are not synonyms.

In the past, sex referred to the totality of what it meant to be a man or a woman, and gender was a grammatical term – some words had gender – masculine, feminine, or neuter. However, in the 1950s, John Money, who was on the staff at Johns Hopkins University, promoted the idea that sexual identity could be broken down into its constituent parts: DNA, hormones, internal and external sexual organs -- and gender, the sex that the person identified with. He argued that a person could be one sex physically, but identify with the other. Money promoted so-called sex change operations, in which men who believed they had the brain of a woman were surgically altered to resemble women. When Dr. Paul McHugh took over at Johns Hopkins, he commissioned a study into the outcome of these supposed sex changes and, finding that they did not address the underlying psychopathology of the clients, discontinued the practice. Unfortunately, other hospitals continued to perform this mutilating surgery.

Money also pushed the idea that if a baby boy were born with deformed genitals, he could be castrated and raised as a girl and he would never know the difference. In other words, one’s sense that one was a man or a woman was socially constructed by the way people treated you. However, studies done on these boys raised as girls found that many of them rejected the reassignment and demanded the right to live as males, even without intact genitals. In 2006 a book by John Colapinto, As nature Made Him, exposed Money as a fraud who covered up the failure of his most famous case and abused the boys brought to him for help.
The rest of this article describes some of the main developments in gender theory.

Mainstreaming the gender perspective

Before Money’s theories had been publicly discredited however, Marxist-influenced feminists combined his concept of gender as socially constructed roles with the idea that all history is the history of class struggle. According to their theory, the first class struggle was between men and women, and women were the first oppressed class. If Money were correct and the differences between men and women were not natural, but the result of socially constructed gender roles imposed by an oppressive patriarchy, then the way to eliminate the oppression of women was to eliminate all differences between women and men. This would be achieved by mainstreaming a gender perspective under which every societal recognition of the difference between men and women would be eradicated, and quotas imposed so that men and women would participate in every social activity in statistically equal numbers and receive statistically equal power and rewards. Any deviation from absolute statistical equality would be regarded as evidence of sexist discrimination.

While equality of rights, equal treatment under the law, equal opportunity, equal education, and equal access to social goods are admirable goals, men and women do differ. If allowed to act freely, they will not arrive at absolute equality. Given freedom, a percentage of women will choose to make motherhood their primary vocation, either leaving the workforce to devote themselves to their children or choosing jobs which allow them more time with their families. Thus, fewer women will participate in the paid work and a percentage of those who do will work shorter hours in less demanding fields and in the aggregate receive lower wages. Gender feminists were well aware of this and pressured governments to institute policies which would force women out of the home and into the workforce. Behind the gender perspective are anti-motherhood policies that are fundamentally anti-woman, anti-child, and anti-family.

Gender feminism has been strongly influenced by women involved in same-sex relationships. The denial of the natural differences between men and women leads to a redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples and the promotion of adoption by same-sex couples. If, as the these radicals argue, all differences between men and women are artificial constructs, imposed by an oppressive patriarchal society then why should same-sex relationships be treated differently? However, if men and women are different, if motherhood is fundamentally different from fatherhood, if children need a mother and a father, then a multitude of reasons exist to privilege marriage between a man and a woman.

Gender expression and gender identity

Recently, those pushing the gender agenda have pressured governments to add the concepts of “gender identity” and “gender expression” to anti-discrimination laws. They argue that while sex is “assigned” to a baby on the basis of observation of its genitals, some people do not accept this designation. For example, a biologically male may argue that, while he has a man’s body, he believes he has a woman’s brain. He may want his body surgically altered to resemble that of a woman or simply to dress as a woman. He may demand that his birth certificate and other documents be changed and that he be allowed to marry a man. Things are more complex, however. Some of the men who have been surgically altered to resemble women are still sexually attracted to women and claim to be lesbians. Some of the “transgendered” may want to be accepted as the other sex even without surgical alterations.

In the past, persons who wanted to be or thought they actually were the other sex, or who rejected the clothing and interests of their own sex and adopted that of the other sex, were considered to be suffering from gender identity disorder (GID). Recently, this designation has been dropped by the American Psychiatric Association in favor of “gender dysphoria”, reflecting the idea that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be the other sex so long as it doesn’t make you unhappy, and that if society’s refusal to pretend you are the other sex makes you unhappy then society has to change. Including gender identity and expression language in anti-discrimination laws would essentially prohibit people from refusing to pretend that people have changed their sex.

While the gender feminists fought to eliminate everything they considered a stereotype, the transgendered frequently adopt clothing and behavior which reflects narrow stereotypical concepts, almost caricatures, of what it means to be a man or a woman. Some of those who go through so-called sex changes try to wipe out their pasts and pretend they have always been the sex they want to be. However, many find this continual deception difficult to sustain. Rejection of the reality of one’s sexual identity and the pursuit of mutilating surgery suggests a severe psychological disorder. It is neither charitable nor required for others to go along with the pretence of sex change.


“GenderQueer” is an ideology founded on a rebellion against all restrictions on identity, behavior, and sexual activity. The GenderQueer claim a right to present themselves as male, female, or neither and to change their identity at any time and to have sex with persons of either sex. Riki Wilchins, author of GenderQueer: Voices from beyond the sexual binary, “Gender is the new frontier: the place to rebel, to create new individuality and uniqueness, to defy old, tired, outdated social norms, and, yes, to occasionally drive their parents and sundry other authority figures crazy.” According to the New York Times article cited earlier, the progressive universities are catering to this rebellion. For example, Jack (born Judith) Halberstam a transgender professor at University of Southern California, is the author of Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal. Society is under no obligation to encourage such rebellion against reality.

Sexual orientation
While those promoting gender theory insist that gender identity is different from sexual orientation, the two are linked. Sexual orientation describes persons based on whom they are sexually attracted  to -- their own sex, the other sex, or both (bisexual). Persons with same sex attraction (SSA) are among the most outspoken spokesmen for the various theories of gender. Many, but not all persons with SSA experienced gender identity disorder as children and many continue to imitate the other sex in clothing or behavior. They feel that they have been discriminated against because they do not conform to gender norms. They also oppose “heteronormality” -- the belief that heterosexuality is the norm and any other combination is abnormal.

A small percentage of persons with SSA decide to pursue so-called sex change surgery. For example, a growing number of masculine-identifying women in same-sex relationships have opted for breast removal and male hormone injections. This and the increase in men who, after being surgically altered to resemble women, are still sexually attracted to women and therefore claim that they are lesbians, has lead to conflict within feminist ranks. Some of their events are limited to women, born as women and living as women.

Gender theory in whatever form it takes is a denial of the reality of sexual difference. Those who have adopted the theory into their lives are in rebellion against their own nature, which leads to feelings of alienation. Rather than recognize that their theory is fatally flawed, they denounced anyone who defends reality as a “homophobe”, “heterosexist” or a “bigot”. They demand that those who speak the truth about marriage, family, motherhood and the needs of children be silenced.

We need not surrender to this bullying. We have a right to point out the inadequacies and inconsistencies in their theory of gender. A first step towards exposing its errors is never to say “gender” when we mean “sex”.

Dale O’Leary is a US writer with a special interest in psychosexual issues and is the author of two books: One Man, One Woman and The Gender AgendaShe blogs at What Does The Research really Say?

This article was first published by Dale O'Leary and under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines