VATICAN CITY - Efforts to convince people that the
differences between male and female are simply social
conventions, which limit individual freedom, ignore the fact
that men and women need each other in order to understand
themselves, Pope Francis said.
"The differences between man and woman are not of the order
of opposition or subordination, but rather of communion and
generation," which is why the human person, male and female,
can be said to be made in the image and likeness of God, the
pope told bishops from Puerto Rico.
"Without mutual commitment, neither of the two will be able
to understand the other in depth," the pope said. "The
complementarity of man and woman - the summit of divine
creation - is being questioned by what is called 'gender
ideology' in the name of a society that is freer and more
Meeting the bishops of the Caribbean archipelago June 8
during their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican, Pope Francis
urged them to care for family life, which is "one of the most
important treasures of the Latin American and Caribbean
The pope spoke about "gender ideology" after listing a number
of "serious social problems besetting" the family in Puerto
Rico, including "the difficult economic situation,
emigration, domestic violence, unemployment, drug trafficking
and corruption. They are realities that generate concern."
"Facilitate the sacramental life of the faithful," the pope
told the bishops, and give them the education they need to
fulfill their mission in the church.
He told the bishops to make sure, before the Year of Mercy
begins in December, that they and their priests are aware of
their duty "to be faithful servants of God's forgiveness,
especially in the sacrament of reconciliation, which allows
God's love to be experienced in the flesh and offers every
penitent the source of true inner peace."