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Vatican wades into transgender debate with new document

The document opposed sex change surgeries but accepted medical intervention to rectify genital abnormalities
Chaz Bono is taped by documentary filmmakers as he arrives at the Santa Monica Courthouse to formally ask a judge to change his name and gender following his 2009 sex change surgery on May 6, 2010, in Santa Monica.
Chaz Bono is taped by documentary filmmakers as he arrives at the Santa Monica Courthouse to formally ask a judge to change his name and gender following his 2009 sex change surgery on May 6, 2010, in Santa Monica. (Photo by DAVID MCNEW /Getty Images via AFP)
Published: April 09, 2024 11:37 AM GMT
Updated: April 09, 2024 11:44 AM GMT

The Vatican, in a new document, has opposed sex change surgeries along with the death penalty, war, sexual abuse, and human trafficking as a way to defend the dignity of the human person.

“Any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception,” said the new document that the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith released on April 9, the first time making the Church's stance clear on the issue.

The document Dignitas infinita (infinite dignity) has been in preparation for the past five years and “reflects the gravity and centrality of the theme of dignity in Christian thought,” said the dicastery’s prefect, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, in his introduction.

The document, however, does not oppose surgeries to remove genital anomalies.

It does not violate human dignity when a person with “genital abnormalities… choose to receive the assistance of healthcare professionals” to rectify the situation, the documents said.

Such a medical intervention is allowed as long as it would not constitute a sex change, it said.

The dignity of the body cannot be considered inferior to that of the person. It deserves to be remembered, especially when it comes to sex change, for humans are inseparably composed of both body and soul, the document said.

The document said the body participates in the dignity of the human person as it is endowed with personal meanings, particularly in its sexed condition.

Each person is recognized in the body, and it is through bodies that men and women can establish a loving relationship capable of generating other persons. The call to protect humanity is a call to accept and respect "it as it was created,” the document said.

The document also criticized gender theories that deny sexual differences. It said sexual difference is not just the “greatest possible difference that exists between living beings” but also “the most beautiful and most powerful of them.”

“In the male-female couple, this difference achieves the most marvelous of reciprocities. It thus becomes the source of that miracle that never ceases to surprise us: the arrival of new human beings in the world,” it said.

New rights advanced by gender theory envisage “a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family,” the document observed.

It emphasized that "biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex [gender] can be distinguished but not separated.”

“All attempts to obscure reference to the ineliminable sexual difference between man and woman are to be rejected,” it asserted.

The man-woman separation is before "all our decisions and experiences,” and only by “accepting this difference in reciprocity can help each person fully discover themselves, their dignity, and their identity,” the document said.

The document's conclusion stated that it marks the 75th anniversary of promulgating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

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