Vatican says 'sex change' surgery, surrogacy and gender ideology are threats to human dignity

The statement from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith entitled "Dignitas Inifinita" ("Infinite Dignity") emphasizes that the church defends respect for one's own body and others and rejects euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Vatican published Monday a new text dedicated to respect for human dignity in which it condemns abortion, surrogacy and gender ideology. The document points out that "the dignity of the body cannot be considered inferior to that of the person as such. The 'Catechism of the Catholic Church' expressly invites us to recognize that 'the human body shares in the dignity of the image of God.'"

"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. This is not to exclude the possibility that a person with genital abnormalities that are already evident at birth or that develop later may choose to receive the assistance of healthcare professionals to resolve these abnormalities. However, in this case, such a medical procedure would not constitute a sex change in the sense intended here," says the statement from  the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith entitled "Dignitas Infinita" ("Infinite Dignity") that was signed by Pope Francis.

'Respect for both one’s own body and that of others is crucial'

The document also maintained that "respect for both one’s own body and that of others is crucial in light of the proliferation of claims to new rights advanced by gender theory. This ideology 'envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family.' It thus becomes unacceptable that 'some ideologies of this sort, which seek to respond to what are at times understandable aspirations, manage to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised.'"

"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.

The Vatican defends the dignity of children

The church also took a stand against the practice of surrogacy, whereby the child, immensely worthy, "becomes a mere object":

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. 

'Suffering does not cause the sick to lose their dignity'

The church also rejects euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Vatican indicated that this is a " a special case of human dignity violation that is quieter but is swiftly gaining ground. It is unique in how it utilizes a mistaken understanding of human dignity to turn the concept of dignity against life itself. This confusion is particularly evident today in discussions surrounding euthanasia."

For example, laws permitting euthanasia or assisted suicide are sometimes called "death with dignity acts." With this, there is a widespread notion that euthanasia or assisted suicide is somehow consistent with respect for the dignity of the human person. However, in response to this, it must be strongly reiterated that suffering does not cause the sick to lose their dignity, which is intrinsically and inalienably their own. Instead, suffering can become an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of mutual belonging and gain greater awareness of the precious value of each person to the whole human family.

The document explained, in this sense, that "the dignity of those who are critically or terminally ill calls for all suitable and necessary efforts to alleviate their suffering through appropriate palliative care and by avoiding aggressive treatments or disproportionate medical procedures. This approach corresponds with the 'enduring responsibility to appreciate the needs of the sick person: care needs, pain relief, and affective and spiritual needs.'"

The document also defends immigrants and other social groups. "Migrants are among the first victims of multiple forms of poverty. Not only is their dignity denied in their home countries, but also their lives are put at risk because they no longer have the means to start a family, to work, or to feed themselves."