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Pope calls for a new sexual revolution

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Pope Francis blesses the womb of a pregnant woman during a meeting with new members of the Swiss Guard ahead of their swearing-in ceremony at the Vatican in 2022. Photo: CNS/Vatican Media
Pope Francis blesses the womb of a pregnant woman during a meeting with new members of the Swiss Guard ahead of their swearing-in ceremony at the Vatican in 2022. Photo: CNS/Vatican Media

Humanity needs a “new revolution” in how it thinks about sex, Pope Francis has said in two recent addresses, adding that “gender ideology” is a form of ideological colonisation that seeks to “cancel differences.”

Instead governments should pursue policies that support childbirth and the family, centred on the needs of people and protecting their growth and uniqueness.

“In the aftermath of the so-called sexual revolution and the breakdown of taboos, we need a new revolution in our way of thinking,” Pope Francis wrote in a message to participants in an academic conference on fertility published April 28.

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“We need to discover the beauty of human sexuality by once again turning to the great book of nature, learning to respect the value of the body and the generation of life, with a view to authentic experiences of conjugal love.”

The pope said that serious education in the relational and procreative dimensions of sexual relationships is increasingly necessary “in a world dominated by a relativistic and trivialised view of human sexuality.”

Such education requires “an anthropological and ethical approach in which doctrinal issues are explored without undue simplifications or inflexible conclusions,” he wrote.

Pope Francis affirmed both the value of sex to bring spouses closer together and the importance of childbirth, noting that without these two elements sexuality becomes merely about personal pleasure.

“Lacking this, the experience of sexuality is impoverished, reduced to sensations that soon become self-referential, and its dimensions of humanity and responsibility are lost,” he wrote.

“The tragedy of violence between sexual partners—including the murder of women—here finds one of its main causes.”

"We need to discover the beauty of human sexuality by once again turning to the great book of nature," said Pope Francis.
“We need to discover the beauty of human sexuality by once again turning to the great book of nature,” said Pope Francis.

The fertility conference, hosted at Rome’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, marks 70 years since the development of the Billings Ovulation Method of natural family planning, which attempts to identify fertility patterns to avoid or achieve conception.

While this approach may have appeared “outdated and less reliable” when compared with artificial birth control, the pope said, the Billings method “has continued to prove timely and challenging.”

It has led to serious reflection on creating an integral vision of human sexuality and promoting “a culture that welcomes life.”

In further remarks made on 29 April during his tour of Hungary, the pope spoke against the rise of “gender ideology” and its role in suppressing human difference, grouping it with “self-referential forms of populism” and “supranationalism.”

“This is the baneful path taken by those forms of ‘ideological colonisation’ that would cancel differences, as in the case of the so-called gender theory, or that would place before the reality of life reductive concepts of freedom, for example by vaunting as progress a senseless ‘right to abortion’, which is always a tragic defeat,” Pope Francis said during a speech at a former Carmelite monastery in Budapest.

While the Holy Father at times appeared to criticise the conservative government of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, he also praised Hungary’s pro-family policies, which have begun to lift the country’s birth rate.

“How much better it would be to build a Europe centred on the human person and on its peoples, with effective policies for natality and the family—policies that are pursued attentively in this country—a Europe whose different nations would form a single family that protects the growth and uniqueness of each of its members.”

While the pope supported using scientific methods that can enhance fertility to assist and support a legitimate desire to conceive, he said that in vitro fertilisation, to “suppress” embryos, the buying and selling of sperm or eggs and to resort to surrogate parenthood are “wrong.”

“The ideological and practical separation of the sexual relationship from its generative potential has resulted in the quest for alternative forms of having a child, no longer through marital relationships but through the use of artificial processes,” he wrote on 28 April.

Pope Francis said that such an “imbalance in the view of sexuality,” along with various social and cultural factors, is “at the root of the current demographic crisis.”

With Justin McLellan/Catholic News Service

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