Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline, gave a monumental speech on the Church's duty to fight toxic ideology at a Nov. 7 conference at Madrid's San Pablo University.
In his talk, titled "The importance of education in the Church's mission today," Sarah attacked "gender theory" as the latest trend in the erosion of education and moral formation, observing, "The destructuring of sexual identity … can be understood as the anthropological consequence of a practical mutation."
The cardinal explained that this "mutation," laying the foundation for man's loss of self-understanding, is contraception.
"The first link in the process involved women," he said. "In fact, the contraceptive mentality that has extended strongly after 1950 has made possible a profound disconnection between the woman and her body, a disconnection that has radically changed the way of understanding human sexuality, marriage, filiation and of course education."
Sarah outlined the deep disorientation contraception unleashes in human nature, wherein men and women lose their true identity and orientation to each other, and noted that it is at the root of many problems today.
"If the intrinsic link between the two meanings of the conjugal act is denied, the difference between the sexes loses the first foundation of their intelligibility," he said, underscoring the Church's constant condemnation of contraception, reaffirmed in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae.
"Under the feminist motto 'my body belongs to me' a deep alienation of the incarnated subject is actually hidden," he said. "In fact, behind this 'freedom' statement lies an instrumentalization of the body itself as a material available to the most indeterminate desires."
Sarah spoke of the danger of modern dualism, an anthropological error begun with French philosopher René Descartes, which sees man's being and identity as his mind/spirit while reducing his body to a mere thing, not intrinsic to his nature, that may be used as an instrument of desire — a concept with profound ramifications.
"The contraceptive mentality has engendered a dualism between individual freedom seen as unlimited and almighty, on the one hand, and the body as an instrument of enjoyment, on the other," the cardinal observed.
"In that perspective," he continued, "the sexed body can no longer be lived as a sign and instrument of the gift of self, whose purpose is the communion of the spouses. The intrinsic link between the two meanings of the conjugal act, the procreative dimension and the unitive dimension, is broken…[and] becomes optional."
Sarah noted that this separation of sex from procreation also became the wedge between sex and marriage — leading to the sexual revolution and today's culture of fornication and divorce.
This, he noted, was just the beginning of social and cultural dissolution: "In a few years, this disconnection simultaneously generated the technification of procreation (assisted reproduction) and the social legitimization of homosexuality. In fact, if sexuality is no longer perceived in the light of the gift of life, how can homosexuality be considered a perversion, an objective and serious disorder?"
Sarah sees the ruptured link affecting both sides of the unitive-procreative balance — the attempt at sexual union while impeding its essential life-giving power, and the attempt at creating life as not the fruit of the marital love-act. Whereas contraception, abortion, and homosexual behavior seek the former, in vitro fertilization and other procreative technologies seek the latter. Objectively, neither is love.
As the dominoes fell, it was not long before the rationalization of homosexuality evolved into the "transgender" movement. If the body does not manifest one's true self and is not intrinsically ordered to lifegiving love, further re-creation of ourselves in our minds continues to follow.
Sarah sees the logic of "sexual minorities" being formed, and the initial call of "tolerance" quickly turning into a demand for public acceptance of these lies.
"In the name of 'equality' and 'freedom,' they demand that all social discourse, especially in schools and the media, be 'respectful' with the sexual indeterminacy of individuals and the free choice of their identity … All this presupposes an erroneous conception of freedom," he said.
Sarah realizes what St. John Paul II often emphasized, that the only way to freedom is through living the truth of our being. Lying to accommodate disordered desires can never lead to freedom or happiness.
At stake is the future of humanity. As with many movements militating against human nature, children are often the main victims. Many parents now "support" the unnatural and self-mutilative behaviors of their children who suffer from homosexual orientation or gender identity disorder. Such misplaced compassion is objectively harmful.
"Its innocent victims are mainly children," the cardinal said, "whose parents, permeable to libertarian slogans and bewitched by contemporary sirens, do not support [authentic] human growth and the formation of their [genuine] sexual affectivity."
In accord with the principle of subsidiarity, Sarah called for more Church involvement in defending the truth of human nature where it has been abandoned: "As has been the case several times in history, the Church has a duty to assume a substitute role to compensate for the collapse of entire sectors of civil society and public authorities."
We cannot abandon our children, he warned.
Cardinal Sarah has a clear grasp of the problem. If the Church as a whole — clergy as well as laity — continues to skirt its obligation and ignore its divinely-ordained mandate to fight the lies of the world and the snares of the devil, there will be little hope of renewal.