Vatican Publishes “Dignitas infinita” On Human Dignity

Abortion, euthanasia, surrogate motherhood, gender reassignment – many issues are addressed in this Declaration.

Newsroom (11/04/2024 21:47, Gaudium PressThe Holy See, through the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, published yesterday the Declaration Dignitas infinita on human dignity, a document that has been in preparation since 2019.

The text recognizes the “possibility of a fourfold distinction in the concept of dignity: ontological dignity, moral dignity, social dignity, and existential dignity”.

Ontological dignity belongs to the person as such “by the simple fact of existing and being willed, created and loved by God”.

Moral dignity refers to the exercise of freedom on the part of the human creature, subject to being used in an unworthy way against the design of God’s love.

Social dignity refers to “the minimum conditions for a person to live by their ontological dignity”.

Existential dignity would be a personal experience of leading a “dignified life” or an “unworthy life”.

The text prioritizes “the inalienable value of ontological dignity rooted in the very being of the human person and which subsists beyond all circumstances”.

After quoting biblical texts referring to human dignity, a historical review of Christian thought on the subject is made, stating that “the Church proclaims, promotes and guarantees human dignity”, because as Benedict XVI said, “without the corrective provided by religion, reason too can suffer distortions, as happens when it is manipulated by ideology or applied in a partial way that does not fully take into account the dignity of the human person. It was this distorted use of reason, after all, that gave rise to the slave trade and many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century.”

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The document addresses some serious violations of human dignity that are particularly topical: the tragedy of poverty, war, the working conditions of migrants, trafficking in human beings, sexual abuse, violence against women, abortion, surrogate motherhood, euthanasia, and assisted suicide, the disposal of people with disabilities, gender theory, gender reassignment, and digital violence.

On abortion: “The acceptance of abortion in mentality, in custom, and in the law itself is an eloquent sign of a very dangerous crisis of moral sense, which is becoming ever more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake.

Surrogate motherhood: “The Church takes a stand against the practice of surrogate motherhood, through which the immensely worthy child becomes a mere object, “violating its inalienable dignity and also that of the “woman herself who is either forced to do so or freely decides to submit to such a practice”, since she becomes “a mere means” and “dissociates herself from the child that grows in her”.

Euthanasia is “a particular case of violation of human dignity that is more silent”. “Suffering does not cause the sick person to lose that dignity which is intrinsically and inalienably theirs, but it can become an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of mutual belonging and to become more aware of the preciousness of each person for the whole of humanity.”

On gender ideology, “the Church recalls that human life, in all its components, physical and spiritual, is a gift from God, which should be gratefully received and put at the service of the good. To want to dispose of oneself, as gender theory prescribes, regardless of this basic truth of human life as a gift, means nothing other than giving in to the age-old temptation of man who makes himself God and entering into competition with the true God of love, revealed in the Gospel.”

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About sex reassignment procedures, as a general rule, “any sex reassignment intervention normally risks threatening the unique dignity that a person has received from the moment of conception. This does not mean excluding the possibility that a person with genital anomalies, already evident from birth or which manifest themselves successively, may decide to receive medical assistance to resolve these anomalies. In this case, the intervention would not constitute a change of sex in the sense understood here”.

In short, with this declaration, “the Church ardently urges respect for the dignity of the human person beyond all circumstances […] and encourages the promotion of the dignity of every human person, whatever their physical, psychological, cultural, social and religious qualities. It does so with hope, certain of the strength that flows from the Risen Christ, who has fully revealed the integral dignity of every man and woman.”

The full text of the Declaration Dignitas infinite on human dignity can be read at this link: https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_ddf_doc_20240402_dignitas-infinita_po.html

Compiled by Dominic Joseph

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