VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has lamented that children, as he puts it, are being taught at school that gender can be a choice.
Francis said: "Today, in schools they are teaching this to children -- to children! -- that everyone can choose their gender."
Without specifying, he blamed this on textbooks supplied by "persons and institutions who donate money."
Francis weighed in during a closed-door meeting last week with bishops from Poland during his pilgrimage there. The Vatican released a transcript Tuesday of those private remarks.
The pope blamed what he called "ideological colonizing" backed by "very influential countries" which he didn't identify.
One such "colonization" he said -- "I'll say it clearly with its first and last name -- is gender."
This is hardly the first time the pope has spoken out on the topic.
His 2015 encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Si" noted that "biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) could be distinguished but not separated," and said that “valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment.”
In a general audience on April 15, 2015, the pope said, "I ask myself, if the so-called gender theory is not, at the same time, an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it. Yes, we risk taking a step backwards. The removal of difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution."