The Vatican released a document that serves as a guide for sexuality destined for Catholic schools all over the world in which non-binary gender is referred to as "fictitious," reported CNN. The 31-page guide, called "Male and Female He Created Them," has come under fire from LGBTQ groups protesting the church's attitude toward gender and sexuality.
The church's education ministry writes in the document that the field of sexuality is facing an "educational crisis" due to the "fictitious (construct) known as 'gender neuter' or 'third gender.'"
The paper also goes on to say that "a person's sex is a structural determinant of male or female identity," claiming that when people try to deny the differences between men and women, it "undoubtedly helps to destabilize the family as an institution, bringing with it a tendency to cancel out the differences between men and women."
The document has been highly condemned since its release as an ancient way of looking at gender that does not fit within the context of the modern world.
New Ways Ministry, a U.S.-based ministry advocating on the part of LGBTQ Catholics, fears that the document is a "harmful tool that will be used to oppress and harm not only transgender people, but lesbian, gay, bisexual people, too."The ministry added that the document could also prove to cause harm toward individuals struggling with sexual orientation and gender identity, claiming that it puts individuals at risk of self-harm, addiction, and even suicide.
New Ways Ministry executive director Francis DeBernardo commented on the guide.
"The only truth that the document reveals is that the Vatican remains ill-equipped to discuss gender and sexuality in the modern world. The Vatican remains in the dark ages, promoting a false teaching that relies on myth, rumor, and falsehoods."Reverend James Martin, a Jesuit priest who studies the Catholic Church's relationship with the LGBT community, echoed DeBernardo's words. Instead of opening a dialogue and a safe space to discuss the issues present in the Vatican paper, Martin says that it sets aside the real-life experiences of LGBT people and will be unfortunately used to argue that transgender people shouldn't exist.
The document was signed by Pope Francis, although it does not include any specific quotes or statements from the head of the Catholic Church. Although the church is known for its conservative beliefs on the nature of gender and sexuality, Pope Francis spoke out in 2016 about the church's attitudes toward homosexuality, going so far as to apologize for historically condemning homosexuality.