Vatican Document Casts Gender Change and Fluidity as Threat to Human Dignity

The Vatican on Monday issued a new document approved by Pope Francis stating that the church believes that sex-change operations, gender fluidity and surrogacy all amount to affronts to human dignity.

The sex a person is born with, the document argued, was an “irrevocable gift” from God and “any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception.” People who desire “a personal self-determination, as gender theory prescribes,” risk conceding “to the age-old temptation to make oneself God.”

The document also unequivocally states the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to surrogacy, whether the woman carrying a baby “is coerced into it or chooses to subject herself to it freely” because the child “becomes a mere means subservient to the arbitrary gain or desire of others.”

The document was intended as a broad statement of the church’s view on human dignity, which included the exploitation of the poor, migrants, women and vulnerable people. Though five years in the making, it comes just months after Pope Francis upset more conservative corners of his church by explicitly allowing L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics to receive blessings from priests and by allowing transgender people to be baptized and act as godparents.

While the church’s teaching on culture war issues that Francis has largely avoided are not necessarily new, their consolidation now was likely to be embraced by conservatives for its hard line against liberal ideas on gender and surrogacy.

The document was also likely to cause deep consternation among advocates for L.G.B.T.Q. rights in the church, who fear the document will be used as a cudgel to condemn transgender people, even as it also warned of “unjust discrimination,” especially in countries where they are criminalized and imprisoned and in some cases put to death or face and aggression or violence.

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