Vatican’s Document ‘Dignitas Infinita’ (Infinite Dignity) Reaffirms Catholic Teaching, Sparks Debate

On Monday, the Vatican made a significant declaration, equating gender-change surgery and treatment, and surrogacy to grave threats to human dignity, akin to abortion and euthanasia. This declaration was part of a 20-page document titled Dignitas Infinita (“Infinite Dignity,”) which has been under development for five years. The document was approved on March 25 by Pope Francis, who ordered its publication.

The Vatican’s doctrine office, in a highly anticipated section of the document, reiterated its rejection of gender theory or the concept that one’s gender can be changed. The Vatican maintains that God created man and woman as biologically distinct entities and that any attempt to alter this plan or to “make oneself God” is unacceptable. The document states, “any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception.”

Dignitas Infinita differentiates between gender-change treatment/surgeries, which it rejects, and “genital abnormalities” present at birth or developed later, which can be “resolved” with medical intervention.

The existence of this document, rumored since 2019, was recently confirmed by Argentine Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and a close confidante of Pope Francis.

The document also condemns the imprisonment, torture, and deprivation of life due to sexual orientation as contrary to human dignity. It reiterates the Catholic doctrine opposing abortion and euthanasia and highlights Pope Francis’ concerns about threats to human dignity from poverty, war, human trafficking, and forced migration.

In a stance that appears new to the secular world, but is in keeping with Catholic moral theology, the document states that surrogacy violates the dignity of both the surrogate mother and the child. It emphasizes the child’s right to a fully human origin and the dignity of life, arguing against the transformation of the desire to have a child into a ‘right to a child’ that disrespects the child’s dignity.

The Vatican’s most articulated position on gender was published in 2019, rejecting the idea that people can choose or change their genders and insisting on the complementarity of biologically male and female sex organs to create new life.

Pope Francis has consistently criticized “gender theory” as a significant threat to humanity, an “ugly ideology” that threatens to erase God-given differences between man and woman.

The Vatican’s new document  has sparked a significant debate on gender-affirming surgery, surrogacy, and human dignity, with its implications resonating globally.

I’ll have a few words to say about this in Episode #26 (“The Trouble with ‘Tradition'”), which will be released today, April 8th, 2024. Look for it here on my website, and anywhere you get your podcasts. For commentary on the Pope’s words and teaching on the death penalty, listen to Epiode 2 of The Catholic Experience

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