Pope Francis has warned against gender theories which seek to eradicate differences between man and woman, saying they perpetuate the very problems they are trying to solve. “Experience teaches us: to know each other well and grow in harmony, the human being requires the reciprocity of man and woman,” the pontiff said Wednesday to participants in his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square. In his Apr. 15 catechesis, the Pope challenged notions of “so-called gender theory,” and whether it “aims to erase sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.” Observing how such theories are an expression of frustration and resignation, the Pope added: “the removal of the differences is the problem, not the solution.” “We risk taking a step backward,” he said. Pope Francis acknowledged that today's culture has allowed for advancements in the understanding of man and woman's differences, but warned that “many doubts and skepticism” have also been introduced. Sexual difference is evident in many life forms, but what makes men and women unique is that they are created in God's image and likeness, he said. Recalling that we are called to “listen to and help one another,” the pontiff suggests that without this reciprocal relationship, we cannot understand “what it means to be man and woman.” Problems with relationships are resolved when men and women speak, listen, know, and love each other more, he added. Pope Francis also stressed the universal significance of marriage, saying it is “serious matter” for everyone, and not just for Christian believers.   He appealed to intellectuals to not desert the idea of marriage, as though it has become “secondary” in their commitment to build a “freer and more just society.” Without the “alliance” between men and woman, affection and hope diminish in the world, the pontiff said. He observed that there are already “worrying” signs that this is the case. There is an urgent need to be attentive to the role of women in the Church and society, and recognize the significance of man and woman being created in the image and likeness of God, Pope Francis said. In order to strengthen the reciprocal relationship between men and women, women should “not only be listened to more,” but they should be “a recognized authority, in society and in the Church.” Pope Francis also noted the connection between the crisis in man and woman's “alliance” and the modern crisis of faith in God. The Bible, he said, shows how “communion with God is reflected in the communion of the human couple, and that the loss of faith in the Heavenly father engenders division and conflict between man and woman.” “From here comes the great responsibility of the Church, of all believers, and  above all believing families, to rediscover the beauty of creative design, which inscribes God's image even in the alliance between man and women.”