The Catholic Church has emerged as this week’s unlikely champion of open dialogue and intellectual freedom.

As lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially transsexual activists seek to close down society’s debate over the nature of sexuality and gender, the Vatican seems determined to pry it open.

On Monday, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education published a report called Male and Female He Created Them to lay out the church’s views on the proper role of modern gender theory in Catholic education. The title is a quote from Genesis (the book, not the band), chapter 5. The report, unsurprisingly, comes out in favour of traditional sex roles and gender identities.

Of course, those views have not been welcomed by LGBT activists or their friends in the media. Their attacks have been vicious, accusing the Vatican of encouraging hatred and bigotry.

Inevitably, gender activists have played their trump card: the suggestion that Vatican calls for dialogue may lead transsexual teens to commit suicide.

It is remarkable that so much powerful invective can be heaped on a document that advocates “listening carefully to the needs of the other” to reach “an understanding of the true diversity of conditions”.

The report acknowledges that “through the centuries forms of unjust discrimination have … had an influence within the church”, and emphasises that children should be taught “to respect every person in their particularity and difference, so that no one should suffer bullying, violence, insults or unjust discrimination” based on their sexuality.

Some of the more muted criticism of the Vatican report has foc­used on its provocative timing: during Gay Pride Month (a month otherwise known as June) and in the 50th anniversary year of New York’s 1969 Stonewall riots (a year otherwise known as 2019). The Stonewall riots, for those with shorter memories, were not riots against lesbians, gays, and transsexuals. They were riots by lesbians, gays, and transsexuals, who took to the streets to demand equal rights (and won).

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