If there is anything of which the Catholic Church is certain, it is that there are just two sexes–male and female–and that sex and gender are strongly related. In regard to there being only two sexes, the Church has always abided by Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” The Catholic Catechism, which contains the teachings of the Church, states: “Man and women have been created, which is to say, willed by God…”Being man” or “being woman” is a reality which is good and willed by God….” (para. 369) Thus, there are just two sexes; there is no third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) option.
In regard to sex and gender being strongly related, the Catholic Catechism states: “The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.” (para. 365) In the 2019 Vatican document “Male and Female He Created Them”, the Church says that one of the main problems with postmodern gender theory is its separation of sex from gender:
“In this cultural context, it is clear that sex and gender are no longer synonyms or interchangeable concepts, since they are used to describe two different realities. Sex is seen as defining which of the two biological categories (deriving from the original feminine-masculine dyad) one belonged to. Gender, on the other hand, would be the way in which the differences between the sexes are lived in each culture. The problem here does not lie in the distinction between the two terms, which can be interpreted correctly, but in the separation of sex from gender. This separation is at the root of the distinctions proposed between various “sexual orientations” which are no longer defined by the sexual difference between male and female, and can then assume other forms, determined solely by the individual, who is seen as radically autonomous. Further, the concept of gender is seen as dependent upon the subjective mindset of each person, who can choose a gender not corresponding to his or her biological sex, and therefore with the way others see that person (transgenderism).”
Despite very clear Catholic doctrine on the number of sexes and how sex and gender are intimately related, the largest (allegedly) Catholic university in America has publicly dissented from these teachings. As reported in the Daily Wire, DePaul University of Chicago, now allows students to select from up to 8 genders on official university documents and other forms. Students can choose from male, female, intersex, non-binary, transgender male, transgender female, cisgender, unspecified, and “I do not wish to self-identity.” This is a lot more than the two options the Church recognizes.
Since an influential Catholic institution is publicly opposing established Church teaching and creating scandal, the Church should step up and correct that institution. The person in the Church who normally would do this is the bishop of the diocese where the institution is located; in this case, Cardinal Blaise Cupich of Chicago. But we should not expect Cupich to do anything as he himself is heretical on the issue. As Cupich declared in 2017:
“I think that the terms gay and lesbian, LGBT, all of those names that people appropriate to themselves, should be respected. People should be called the way that they want to be called rather than us coming up with terms that maybe we’re more comfortable with. So it begins with that.”
Indeed, Cupich is considered one of the most powerful Church leaders in support of the LGBT agenda.
Cupich also notoriously opposes other Church doctrines, most notably the teaching that communion should be denied to Catholic politicians who unrepentantly support abortion. Because of his left-wing positions, Cupich was actually booed while giving a speech at a pro-life rally this month in Chicago. Thus, we cannot expect Cardinal Cupich to correct DePaul University.
Who then will courageously confront the university and defend Church teaching? If DePaul University were a secular institution, it would not have to concern itself with Catholic doctrine. However, since it holds itself out as a “Catholic” university, it must either adhere to Church teaching or no longer declare itself Catholic. Let’s hope courage can be found in the Church to make DePaul choose.