Vatican denounces surrogacy and gender-affirming surgery as 'threats' to human dignity

The Vatican's recently released document is viewed as a peace offering to conservative church members following a series of liberal statements by Pope Francis. The document criticized attempts to blur the 'sexual difference between man and woman,' warning that any effort to change one's sex jeopardizes human dignity.

Vatican denounces surrogacy and gender-affirming surgery as 'threats' to human dignity
AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
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The Vatican, in a new document titled, "Dignitas Infinita" (Infinite Dignity), strongly warns against "gender theory" and emphasizes that any "sex-change intervention" jeopardizes "the unique dignity" of an individual.

This declaration, focusing on various threats to human dignity such as poverty, the death penalty, war, assisted dying, abortion, sexual abuse, and the abuse of women, was signed off and approved by Pope Francis.

The text, released by the Vatican doctrine office on Monday, asserts that attempts to blur "the sexual difference between man and woman," including gender-affirming surgery, should be opposed. "It follows that any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception," it further states.

The document read:

First and foremost, the practice of surrogacy violates the dignity of the child. Indeed, every child possesses an intangible dignity that is clearly expressed – albeit in a unique and differentiated way – at every stage of his or her life: from the moment of conception, at birth, growing up as a boy or girl, and becoming an adult. Because of this unalienable dignity, the child has the right to have a fully human (and not artificially induced) origin and to receive the gift of a life that manifests both the dignity of the giver and that of the receiver.

Although Francis has expressed criticism of gender theory, he has also offered pastoral support to transgender Catholics. The Pope has demonstrated this support by meeting with a group of transgender Catholics from Torvaianica, located south of Rome. He has met with them regularly, even inviting them to lunch at the Vatican alongside 1,200 marginalized and homeless individuals. Additionally, he provided them with front-row seats at one of his audiences.

Not all Catholics have aligned with the Vatican's criticisms of gender theory. One LGBTQ+ Catholic group criticized the document, stating that it "fails terribly" by providing transgender and non-binary individuals with only "limited" dignity.

The Vatican clarified that the 20-page document has been in development for five years and has undergone several revisions to address "grave violations of human dignity in our time" and incorporate the pope's teachings in this regard.

The text takes a firm stance against the criminalization of homosexuality, a topic Francis had previously spoken out against before his trip to Africa in 2023, stated CNN.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to the document released by Pope Francis:

We are pleased to see that the document… furthered the Vatican's call to ensure that LGBTQ+ are protected from violence and imprisonment around the world. However, the president will continue to be an advocate for the rights, safety and dignity of the LGBTQ+ community, including transgender people here in the U.S.

Pope Francis has been unequivocal about his firm positions on certain issues. His strongest language on doctrine has been directed towards two topics addressed in the newly approved document, stated BBC.

Previously, he has labeled surrogacy as "despicable" and criticized gender theory - a belief challenging the notion that gender roles are biologically fixed - as "an ugly ideology."

"Now, the Dignitas Infinita declaration calls abortion an "extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense" and says that surrogacy is a "violation" of both the woman and the child," read BBC.

Moreover, the declaration emphasizes that one's biological sex at birth is regarded as a gift, warning against any attempt to alter it, which could be seen as succumbing to the temptation of 'playing God.'

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