Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, takes notes during a news conference to present the dicastery’s declaration 'Dignitas Infinita' on human dignity, a copy of which is nearby, at the Vatican press office April 8. CNS photo/Pablo Esparza

Dicastery condemns attacks on human dignity

  • April 10, 2024

Being a Christian means defending human dignity and that includes opposing abortion, the death penalty, gender transition surgery, war, sexual abuse and human trafficking, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith said in a new document.

“We cannot separate faith from the defense of human dignity, evangelization from the promotion of a dignified life and spirituality from a commitment to the dignity of every human being,” Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, dicastery prefect, wrote in the document’s opening section.

The declaration, Dignitas Infinita (“Infinite Dignity”), was released at the Vatican April 8.

With its five years of preparation, Fernández wrote, “the document before us reflects the gravity and centrality of the theme of dignity in Christian thought.”

The declaration noted that the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World also listed attacks on human dignity as ranging from abortion and euthanasia to “subhuman living conditions” and “degrading working conditions.”

Members of the doctrinal dicastery included the death penalty among violations of “the inalienable dignity of every person, regardless of the circumstances” and called for the respect of the dignity of people who are incarcerated.

The declaration denounced discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and particularly situations in which people are “imprisoned, tortured and even deprived of the good of life solely because of their sexual orientation.” But it also condemned “gender theory” as “extremely dangerous since it cancels differences in its claim to make everyone equal.” Gender theory, it said, tries “to deny the greatest possible difference that exists between living beings: sexual difference.”

The Church, the declaration said, teaches that “human life in all its dimensions, both physical and spiritual, is a gift from God. This gift is to be accepted with gratitude and placed at the service of the good.”

Quoting Pope Francis’ exhortation Amoris Laetitia, the declaration said, “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.”

Members of the dicastery also warned about the implications of changing language about human dignity, citing for example those who propose the expressions “personal dignity” or “the rights of the person” instead of “human dignity.” In many cases, they said, the proposal understands “a ‘person’ to be only ‘one who is capable of reasoning.’ They then argue that dignity and rights are deduced from the individual’s capacity for knowledge and freedom, which not all humans possess. Thus, according to them, the unborn child would not have personal dignity, nor would the older person who is dependent upon others, nor would an individual with mental disabilities.”

The Catholic Church, on the contrary, “insists that the dignity of every human person, precisely because it is intrinsic, remains in all circumstances.”

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