Pope Slams Gender Surgery, Says Differences Between Men and Women Are Relevant for 'Human Development'

Pope Francis
Pope Francis said gender surgery risks "dismantling the source of energy that fuels the alliance between men and women and renders them fertile.” Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Francis has hit out at technology that allows people to transition from one gender to another, claiming such practices "render them irrelevant for human development."

Although the pontiff has been praised for bringing a more holistic view on issues such as abortion and LGBT rights to the Catholic Church, the pope made it clear his lenient views did not extend to technology that made gender confirmation surgery possible.

Speaking to the Vatican's bioethics board on Thursday, Francis said that "rather than contrast negative interpretations of sexual differences... they want to cancel these differences out altogether, proposing techniques and practices that render them irrelevant for human development and relations," Newsday reported.

He added that these practices "risk dismantling the source of energy that fuels the alliance between men and women and renders them fertile."

It is not the first time the pope has spoken out about issues affecting the transgender community. He previously said that priests should minister to the LGBT community, and in the wake of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year, he felt LGBT people were owed an apology for poor treatment from Christians in the past, The New York Times reported.

However, he left sections of the community disappointed when in August 2016 he described children being taught about transgender people as "ideological colonization."

"Today, in schools they are teaching this to children — to children! — that everyone can choose their gender," the pope said, according to a transcript the Vatican released.

That the pontiff does not back technological developments that make gender confirmation surgery possible would have been far less surprising under the past two popes, who made it clear they backed the more conservative views traditionally held by the Catholic Church.

Francis appeared to have made strides in building a church more tolerant toward the LGBT community. However, Thursday's comments likely left some advocates disappointed.