“Male? Female? They are questions that for some are now viewed as obsolete, senseless, if not racist. The answer of current conformism is foreseeable: ‘whether one is male or female has little interest for us, we are all simply humans.’”
Sounds like current commentary on the cultural crisis, but these prophetic words were spoken by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in a 1984 interview, later published as The Ratzinger Report (Ignatius Press, 1985).
When asked about the roots of the ideology that sees men and women as interchangeable, he spoke of “a series of fatal ruptures: that, for example, between sexuality and procreation” (p. 95). Speaking presciently, the future Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed that we will atone in our day for “the consequences of a sexuality which is no longer linked to motherhood and procreation. It logically follows from this that every form of sexuality is equivalent. …No longer having an objective reason to justify it, sex seeks the subjective reason in the gratification of the desire, in the most ‘satisfying’ answer for the individual.” In turn, everyone “is free to give to his personal libido the content considered suitable for himself. Hence, it naturally follows that all forms of sexual gratification are transformed into the ‘rights’ of the individual” (p. 85).
By detaching sex from procreation, the essential meaning and natural orientation of the gender distinction is lost and one’s sex is eventually “viewed as a simple role, interchangeable at one’s pleasure,” Ratzinger observed. From there, people end up demanding the right of “escaping from the ‘slavery of nature,’ demanding the right to be male or female at one’s will or pleasure” (p. 95).
What we are living through in our day is the result of an ideology that has completely severed body and soul. And that’s the very definition of death. Barring a divine intervention, we must now endure the full consequences of the “uprooting of the human person in the depth of his nature” – an uprooting that stems from the fact that “sex has remained without a locus and has lost its point of reference” since the cultural embrace of contraception (p. 84).
Ratzinger did not predict in 1984 where this all leads or how it all ends. “But one cannot struggle against nature [like this] without undergoing the most devastating consequences” (p. 96). For such a time as this have we been given the salvific gift of Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. What are you doing to help spread the good news?
By taking us beyond the alternatives of prudish repression and damaging indulgence, the Theology of the Body opens the path to the redemption of sexuality and the real healing of our wounds. Learn more by watching my short film, The Cry of the Heart. Watch the trailer below.