This article is the first in a two-part series examining the Vatican’s new document Dignitas Infinita. You can read Part Two here.

The Vatican published a document on Monday that reflects on contemporary threats to human dignity. It addresses many of today’s most pressing moral and ethical issues – including modern gender theory, abortion, surrogacy and euthanasia – all of which it rejects in strong terms.

The document Dignitas Infinita (Infinite Dignity) was released on 2 April 2024, the nineteenth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. It was published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (the DDF – the Catholic Church’s top doctrinal office), signed by Víctor Manuel Cardinal Fernández and approved by Pope Francis.

Gender Theory

The DDF reiterates that all persons, including those who struggle with homosexuality or sexual identity confusion, “ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration.” It notes that “every sign of unjust discrimination” is to be carefully avoided.

Dignitas Infinita rejects gender theory wholesale, referring to it as a form of “ideological colonization” that is “extremely dangerous” because “it cancels differences in its claim to make everyone equal.”

The document states that human life “in all its dimensions, both physical and spiritual, is a gift from God.” This includes our sexed bodies. Gender theory rejects that idea, stipulating that one can freely change their bodily sex in such a way that is inherently contrary to their biology.

It goes on:

This gift is to be accepted with gratitude and placed at the service of the good.

Desiring a personal self-determination, as gender theory prescribes, apart from this fundamental truth that human life is a gift, amounts to a concession to the age-old temptation to make oneself God, entering into competition with the true God of love revealed to us in the Gospel.

Dignitas Infinita correctly notes that gender identity denies the sexual distinction between male and female, and it therefore rejects the “foundational difference” between men and women which “becomes the source of that miracle that never ceases to surprise us: the arrival of new human beings in the world.”

For this reason, the document strongly asserts, gender theory is an attack on the family itself.

This ideology “envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family.” …

“It needs to be emphasized that ‘biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated.’” Therefore, all attempts to obscure reference to the ineliminable sexual difference between man and woman are to be rejected: “We cannot separate the masculine and the feminine from God’s work of creation, which is prior to all our decisions and experiences, and where biological elements exist which are impossible to ignore.”

Only by acknowledging and accepting this difference in reciprocity can each person fully discover themselves, their dignity, and their identity.

Dignitas Infinita’s clear moral reasoning reaffirming the fundamental reality of the sexual binary is most welcome. It’s proclamations that one’s sexual identity is inherent and immutable, that biological sex cannot be separated from “gender roles,” and that each person receives their proper dignity only by accepting their sexed body are correct and courageous.

Sex Change

Directly after Dignitas Infinita’s critique of gender theory, it addresses the topic of transgender medical interventions for those struggling with sexual identity confusion.

The document reiterates the Christian teaching – mirroring language found in Genesis 1 – that “the human body shares in the dignity of ‘the image of God.’”

It notes that human beings are composed of a body-soul duality; this is a reality we recognize, it’s not something we can change.

“Constituting the person’s being, the soul and the body both participate in the dignity that characterizes every human. Moreover, the body participates in that dignity as it is endowed with personal meanings, particularly in its sexed condition.”

Specifically addressing transgender medical interventions, the document adds:

Teaching about the need to respect the natural order of the human person, Pope Francis affirmed that “creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created.”

It follows that any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception.

Dignitas Infinita’s clear moral teaching could not come a better time, when millions of people worldwide have been deluded into thinking that one’s sexual identity is not inherent nor immutable.

The document reiterates the Christian belief that each person has a God-given sexual identity that cannot be changed. Only an acceptance of the reality of one’s sexual identity can lead to the well-ordered and happy life that God intended to give each of us as a “gift.”

The second part of this article series will examine Dignitas Infinita’s reiteration of Catholic teaching on abortion, surrogacy and euthanasia.

Focus on the Family exists to help families, and that includes help navigating the issue of transgenderism. Focus offers a free, one-time counseling consultation with a licensed or pastoral counselor. To request a counseling consultation, call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) or fill out our Counseling Consultation Request Form.

Related articles and resources:

Counseling Consultation & Referrals

Transgender Resources

Addressing Gender Identity with Honesty and Compassion

The Journey Back to My True Identity

What is ‘Gender Identity’

Transgenderism and Minors: What Does the Research Really Show?

Do Not Fall for the ‘Affirm Them or They Will Die’ Lie

How to Defeat Gender Ideology, Protect Children and End ‘Trans America’

Several States Advancing ‘Help Not Harm’ Bills to Protect Children From Transgender Medical Interventions

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