The Question of Gender in Catholic Anthropology


In today’s Western world, the issue of gender has become a significant topic of discussion. There is a growing trend to emphasize that one’s interior experience, rather than their biological sex, determines their true gender identity. While the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not specifically address this issue, a summary of magisterial documents and theological reflection can provide insight into how a person of faith should respond to this viewpoint.

The Church’s Teaching on Gender and Biological Sex

The Catholic Church acknowledges that the concept of “gender” and biological sex can be distinct but are not separate from one another. The Church teaches that our bodies play a crucial role in our identity as male and female. While certain aspects of masculinity and femininity may be influenced by culture, there are essential qualities that are specific to each gender. Gender, therefore, finds its roots in the giftedness of our bodies. It is only when gender is understood in relation to the gift of the body and its sexual difference that it is properly integrated.

Gender Theories and the Church’s Response

Current gender theories attempt to undermine the unity between gender and biological sexual difference. While the Church and these theories agree on the distinction between gender and biological sex, they differ in their understanding of the relationship between the two. Gender theories argue for a separation between bodily sexual difference (male and female) and gender identity (man and woman). They claim that the interior experience of a person has no real connection to their body, and therefore, it is acceptable to change one’s identifying gender, even if it contradicts their biological sex.

The Church sees these theories as rooted in a philosophical position known as dualism, which separates the body and soul, viewing them as disconnected entities. According to this view, the body becomes a means of expressing the true interior self, rather than being integrated with the inner spiritual self. It is also worth noting that gender ideology often retains the traditional roles of male and female but allows individuals to appropriate them based on personal experience. This dependence on the integrated view of gender and biological sexual difference reveals the inherent contradiction within these theories.

Gender Identity and the Integration of Masculine and Feminine Characteristics

While gender ideologies may have various extreme positions, there is a seed of truth in acknowledging that individuals may integrate characteristics traditionally associated with the opposite gender. For example, some men may possess qualities typically seen as feminine, such as receptivity. However, this does not negate their fundamental masculinity or femininity. Instead, these characteristics are incorporated in accordance with their gifted sexual difference.

The Impact of Gender Ideologies on Culture and Personal Experience

Gender ideologies have a significant impact on both culture and personal experience. These ideologies are intentionally forceful and can shape societal norms and values. However, it is essential to recognize that individuals who struggle with gender identity require the patient love and support of Christians to help them bear their cross. They need encouragement to embrace the giftedness of being male or female, which is found through their body and sexual difference.

Understanding the Root Causes of Gender Ideology

The roots of our culture’s focus on gender ideology are complex and multifaceted. It can be argued that symbolic and cultural influences have accelerated the emergence of this issue. Nevertheless, regardless of the societal factors at play, individuals grappling with gender identity still need the guidance and compassion of Christians to help them navigate their journey. By embracing the Church’s teaching on sexual difference and gender, individuals can find true freedom. This understanding recognizes the integration of gender and biological sexual difference while allowing for the appropriation of certain characteristics traditionally associated with the opposite sex. It upholds the gifted nature of existence and the body, acknowledging that one’s identity is fundamentally received as a gift rather than determined by personal desires.


In conclusion, the question of gender in Catholic anthropology is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and understanding. The Catholic Church teaches that gender and biological sexual difference are distinct but interconnected. Gender is rooted in the giftedness of the body, and true integration occurs when it acknowledges the relationship between gender and biological sex. Current gender theories attempt to separate these two aspects, leading to a fragmented understanding of gender identity. However, there is room within Catholic anthropology to recognize the integration of masculine and feminine characteristics while upholding the fundamental sexual difference. By embracing the Church’s teaching, individuals can find true freedom and fulfillment in their identity as male or female.