Home Australia The Vatican declares that sex change surgery and surrogate births are serious violations of human dignity, equating them with abortion and euthanasia

The Vatican declares that sex change surgery and surrogate births are serious violations of human dignity, equating them with abortion and euthanasia

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The 20-page declaration, titled 'Infinite Dignity', was approved on March 25 by Pope Francis, who ordered its publication.

The Vatican declared on Monday that gender affirmation surgery and surrogacy are grave violations of human dignity, putting them on par with abortion and euthanasia as practices that reject God’s plan for human life.

Titled ‘Infinite Dignity’, the 20-page declaration – which has been in the making for five years – focuses on what it describes as threats to human dignity, including poverty, the death penalty, war, sexual abuse and the abuse of women.

After substantial revision in recent months, the text was approved on March 25 by Pope Francis, who ordered its publication.

In its most anticipated section, the Vatican reiterated its rejection of “gender theory,” or the idea that one’s gender can be changed.

It said that God created man and woman as biologically different and separate beings, and that people should not alter that plan or try to “become God.”

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

The 20-page declaration, titled 'Infinite Dignity', was approved on March 25 by Pope Francis, who ordered its publication.

The 20-page declaration, titled ‘Infinite Dignity’, was approved on March 25 by Pope Francis, who ordered its publication.

The document distinguished between gender-affirming surgeries, which it rejected, and “genital anomalies” that are present at birth or develop later.

These abnormalities can be “resolved” with the help of health professionals, he said.

The document is largely a reaffirmation of Catholic beliefs on these issues, but it does not isolate one issue – such as abortion – but instead says it emphasizes the equal dignity of all people, regardless of their circumstances.

Regarding abortion, he reiterates what the pontiff has said previously: that the “defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right.”

The document also mentions surrogacy, which it says “violates” both the dignity of the child and the woman, which “becomes a mere means subordinated to the arbitrary benefit or desire of others.”

While much of the attention on surrogacy has focused on the possible exploitation of poor women as surrogate mothers, the Vatican document states that 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.’

“Given this, the legitimate desire to have a child cannot be transformed into a ‘right to have a child’ that does not respect the dignity of that child as a recipient of the gift of life.”

Pope Francis has recently called for a ban on the practice of surrogacy.

LGBTQ+ Catholic advocates immediately criticized the document as outdated, harmful, and contrary to the stated goal of recognizing the “infinite dignity” of all of God’s children.

They warned it could have real-world effects on trans people, fueling violence and discrimination against trans people.

“While it establishes a wonderful justification for why every human being, regardless of their station in life, should be respected, honored and loved, it does not apply this principle to gender diverse people,” said Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry , which advocates for LGBTQ+ Catholics.

The existence of the document, which has been rumored since 2019, was confirmed in recent weeks by the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Argentine Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, a trusted man close to Francis.

He had presented it as a kind of nod to conservatives after he had written a more explosive document approving blessings for same-sex couples that drew criticism from conservative bishops around the world, especially in Africa.

And yet the document clearly takes aim at countries – including many in Africa – that criminalize homosexuality.

The new document denounces “as contrary to human dignity the fact that, in some places, many people are imprisoned, tortured and even deprived of the good of life solely because of their sexual orientation.”

The document is a kind of repackaging of previously articulated Vatican positions, now read through the prism of human dignity.

It reaffirms well-known Catholic doctrine opposing abortion and euthanasia, and adds to the list some of Francis’s main concerns as Pope: the threats to human dignity posed by poverty, war, human trafficking and migration. forced.

The Vatican had previously published its most articulate position on gender in 2019, when the Congregation for Catholic Education rejected the idea that people can choose or change their gender and insisted on the complementarity of biologically male and female sexual organs to create new life.

The new, more authoritative document from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith cites that 2019 educational document, but moderates the tone. Significantly, it does not repeat the 1986 language of an earlier doctrinal document that said homosexual people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect but that homosexual actions are “intrinsically disordered.”

At a news conference to present the document, Fernández acknowledged that the “intrinsically disordered” language was too strong and that there might be a better way, “with other words,” to express the church’s vision of sex as a perfect union between husband and wife. and wife to create a new life.

“It’s true, the expression could find other words to express this mystery,” he said.

The Rev. James Martin, who has called on the Catholic Church to extend greater outreach to LGBTQ+ Catholics, said the gender terminology was similar to previous statements. But he welcomed the condemnation of the legislation and violence against LGBTQ+ people.

‘That cannot be repeated too often as an offense to human dignity. The LGBTQ person, like everyone else, has infinite dignity,” she said in an email.

Francis has made reaching out to LGBTQ+ people a hallmark of his papacy, ministering to trans-Catholics and insisting that the Catholic Church must welcome all of God’s children.

But he has also denounced “gender theory” as the “worst danger” facing humanity today, an “ugly ideology” that threatens to nullify the God-given differences between men and women. He has particularly criticized what he calls the West’s “ideological colonization” of the developing world, where development aid is sometimes conditional on the adoption of Western ideas about gender and reproductive health.

Transgender activists immediately called the document “hurtful” and lacking the voices and experiences of real trans people, especially in its distinction between transgender people and intersex people.

‘The suggestion that gender-affirming healthcare, which has saved the lives of so many wonderful trans people and allowed them to live in harmony with their bodies, their communities and (God), could jeopardize or diminish the dignity of trans people is not only hurtful. but dangerously ignorant,’ said Mara Klein, a non-binary transgender activist who has participated in the church reform project in Germany.

“To see that, on the contrary, surgical interventions on intersex people, which if carried out without consent, especially in minors, often cause immense physical and psychological damage to many intersex people to date, are evaluated positively seems to expose even more the underlying hypocrisy,” Klein said. .

The document comes at a time of some backlash against transgender people, including in the United States, where Republican-led state legislatures are considering a new round of bills that restrict health care for transgender youth and, in some cases, , grown ups. In addition, bills are also being considered to regulate youth pronouns, sports teams and bathrooms in schools, as well as some school books and programs.

“In addition to growing hostility toward our communities, we face a church that does not listen and refuses to see the beauty of creation that can be found in our biographies,” Klein said in an email.

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