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Vatican says sex change, gender theory are ‘grave threats’ : NPR

The crowd looks towards the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square during Pope Francis’ prayer on April 1 at the Vatican.

Tiziana I Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

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Tiziana I Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

The crowd looks towards the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square during Pope Francis’ prayer on April 1 at the Vatican.

Tiziana I Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

The Vatican has released a new document calling poverty, war and the plight of migrants “threats to human dignity”. But he also calls abortion, surrogacy and gender theory “serious threats” facing humanity today.

The document, titled “Infinite Dignity,” asserts that each person’s dignity comes from the love of the creator “who imprinted on each person the indelible traits of his image.” This language is familiar to Christians accustomed to hearing that humans are all created in the image of God.

The document goes on to affirm that this dignity is inalienable, beyond any circumstance or situation the person may encounter. Simply put, because a person exists, a human being has inherent dignity.

“Infinite Dignity” details a long list of what it calls serious threats to that dignity, some of which might be expected given other Catholic teachings. It talks about the tragedy of poverty and how the unequal distribution of wealth deprives humans of the dignity that God has given them. It also describes war, abuse of migrants, sexual abuse, violence against women, marginalization of people with disabilities, assisted suicide and abortion as affronts to human dignity.

But the paper then turns to other issues that have become more politicized in recent years: surrogacy, gender theory and what it calls “sex reassignment.”

The paper’s framework argues that if a person is created in the image of God, gender theory and sex reassignment surgery call into question why God would create a person with the wrong sex.

He asserts that the understanding of humanity divided into two sexes – male and female – is biblical and deeply meaningful, especially in terms of procreation. Gender theory holds that a person’s sex can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth.

“Infinite Dignity” asserts that the concept of human dignity can be misused to justify what it calls an “arbitrary proliferation of new rights,” describing them instead as “individual preference” or “desire.” This language is very similar to the way conservatives often talk about being transgender as a choice, something that major medical and psychological groups dispute.

The document makes a clear distinction between the question of sexual orientation (whether a person is gay, lesbian or bisexual) and the question of gender identity (whether the sex assigned at birth of a person matches what they this person understands as their gender).

The document will be seen by some more conservative Catholics as a victory after years of difficulty under the leadership of Pope Francis. Last year, the Vatican said priests could baptize transgender Catholics and allowed priests to bless people in same-sex relationships.

But many transgender Catholics and their families as well as more progressive Catholics are unhappy with “Infinite Dignity.”

The executive director of the Catholic LGBTQ group New Ways Ministry, Francis DeBernardo, says of the document: “When it comes to the section on transgender or non-binary people, it does not apply the principles of human dignity to them. »

The mission of New Ways Ministry is, in part, to help pastors and religious teachers better understand gender identity and sexuality. It also promotes “holiness and wholeness within the LGBTQ+ Catholic community.”

DeBernardo argues that “Infinite Dignity” doesn’t live up to its own name. “In a sense, it’s not infinite dignity,” he says. “It’s a very limited dignity that the Church offers.”

He fears the document could be used to further persecute transgender people, and he believes it would push transgender Catholics and their families to leave the Church.

DeBernardo also worries that the sections on gender theory and what he calls “sex change” will overshadow what he describes as the very good parts of the document on war, poverty and migrants.

The group Catholics for Choice is also disappointed and questions the way the document was developed. “Once again,” the group’s president, Jamie Manson, said in a written statement, “a group of all-male, celibate clergy are telling women and gender-broad people that their lived experiences are neither real nor valid “.

Catholics for Choice advocates within the Church for a variety of issues regarding sexual and reproductive health, including the right to abortion. The group believes – and argues that Catholic teaching supports – that people’s individual consciences should be their guide in such decisions.

“It is clear to me that women and trans people who continue to identify as Catholic – despite documents like this that completely ignore our experiences – only do so out of a deep love for our faith and its traditions,” Manson continues in his statement. “It is devastating that our leaders do not offer the same respect and love in return.”

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