Pope calls for studies into 'ugly' gender theory

STORY: Addressing participants of a conference on the evolving role of men and women according to Christian teachings, Francis said what he called "gender ideology" was a threat because it sought to annul the difference between the sexes.

Gender theory, often called gender ideology by its detractors, suggests that gender is more complex and fluid than the binary categories of male and female and depends on more than visible sex characteristics.

The 87-year-old pontiff said he was still suffering from a recent cold and had asked an aide to read his written speech, but first he wanted to "underline" his feelings on gender ideology.