Amid a global debate surrounding transgender rights, Pope Francis has warned that the world is "living a moment of annihilation of man as image of God" as children are being taught at school that gender can be a choice.
The 79-year-old pontiff weighed in on today's acceptance of "gender fluidity" while meeting privately last week with bishops from Poland during his pilgrimage there, according to RT.
"Today, in schools they are teaching this to children - to children! - that everyone can choose their gender," Francis said, calling such policies "ideological colonizing" supported and funded by "very influential countries." He also charged that textbooks promoting the idea such ideas are supplied by "persons and institutions who donate money."
Calling such approach "terrible," Francis also said that his views were reinforced by his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, who called it a sin against God.
"Speaking with Pope Benedict, who is well, and has a clear mind, he was telling me: 'Holiness, this is the epoch of sin against God the Creator.' He's intelligent! God created man and woman, God created the world this way, this way, this way, and we are doing the opposite," Francis told the Polish bishops. "We must think about what Pope Benedict said - 'It's the epoch of sin against God the Creator.'"
In his April letter on marriage and the family, Amoris Laetitia ("The Joy of Love"), Francis reinforced the idea that sex education should teach "respect and appreciation" for sexual differences, as thinking that we enjoy "absolute power over our own bodies" leads to the delusion that "we enjoy absolute power over creation."
"An appreciation of our body as male or female," he wrote, is "necessary for our own self-awareness in an encounter with others different from ourselves."
An effort to cancel out sexual differences based in anatomy is a symptom of a society that "no longer knows how to deal with it," Francis said, and decried an ideology of gender that "denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family."
Meanwhile, an online petition started by Family Research Council against the Obama administration's "overreach in bullying parents and local school districts" to allow students to use restrooms and other facilities as per their gender identity and not their biological sex has gained more than 106,000 signatures.
"The Obama administration's overreach in bullying parents and local school districts by threatening loss of federal dollars if they do not follow its guidance in allowing students to use facilities such as restrooms, showers, and locker rooms of the opposite biological sex is both unlawful and dangerous to our children," says the FRC petition to be sent to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan.
In June, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education released a directive saying that all federally funded schools must allow students to use restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities and activities according to their self-proclaimed gender identity.
"This has gone too far," the petition adds. "The U.S. Congress is still the voice of the American people. It's past time that Congress stands up to the unlawful actions of this president. If Congress will not resist President Obama's overreach into the bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms of our nation's schools, then who will?"