Francis made his comments in an impromptu response to a question at a meeting of the small Catholic community in Georgia (Country).
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"You mentioned a great enemy of marriage: gender theory," the pope said in response to a woman who had asked about it being taught in schools.
"Today, there is a global war out to destroy marriage," Pope said. "Not with weapons but with ideas... we have to defend ourselves from ideological colonization."
The pope has used the phrase "ideological colonization" in the past to denounce what he says are attempts by rich countries to link development aid to the acceptance of social policies such as those allowing gay marriage and contraception.
Francis, who has been more accepting of homosexuals than his predecessors but opposes gay marriage, also appeared to be referring to it when he said "marriage is the most beautiful thing that God has created" adding that the Bible says God created man and woman to become one flesh.
Gender theory was formally introduced by Sandra Bem in 1981 as a cognitive theory to explain how individuals become gendered in society, and how sex-linked characteristics are maintained and transmitted to other members of a culture. Gender-associated information is predominantly transmuted through society by way of schemata, or networks of information that allow for some information to be more easily assimilated than others.
According to this theory, core gender identity is tied up in the sex typing that an individual undergoes. This typing can be heavily influenced by child rearing, media, school, and other forms of cultural transmission. Bem refers to four categories in which an individual may fall: sex-typed, cross-sex-typed, androgynous, and undifferentiated. Sex-typed individuals process and integrate information that is in line with their gender (Bem, S. L. (1981). Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing. Psychological Review, 88, 354–364).
Gender theory is broadly the concept that while a person may be biologically male or female, they have the right to identify themselves as male, female, both or neither.
Pope Francis is for many Georgian LGBT activists and feminists a "true Christian." These poor people are happy that they are not burnt, as in the Middle Ages. They do not understand that the Catholic Church is its enemy, as always. This news is a good evidence for this bitter reality.
Pope Francis visits the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, Georgia, October 1, 2016. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili