Dignitas Infinita

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He is risen indeed!

Dignitas Infinita

Last week, I mentioned that I would write a few observations about the Declaration on Human Dignity – Dignitas Infinita – published by the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith. The Holy Father wanted to reinforce the teaching of the Church concerning the dignity of the human person and to apply that essential teaching to different issues facing us today that are more pronounced than in years past.

The dignity of every human is infinite. This means that it has no end. It does have a beginning because the beginning of every human being is at the moment of conception. It doesn’t start with being cognizant or with beginning to make independent decisions. We are imbued with dignity from the very first moment of existence. The document reaffirms this teaching because it is being challenged and twisted by today’s culture in many different ways – my dignity comes from how I identify, my dignity comes because I can think, my dignity stems from my own self-determination, my dignity arises from my usefulness, etc…. The Church, in this declaration, refutes those claims prevalent in our society today.

After this reaffirmation, the document forcefully defends the Church’s teaching on subjects among which are abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, human trafficking, sex abuse, and surrogate motherhood. Towards the end, gender theory and sex change are addressed. These were the hot topics! Our biological sex (male or female) is a gift of God and cannot be separated from human person. The difference between masculinity and femininity is beautiful and necessary in the work of creation. “All attempts to eliminate the ineliminable sexual difference between man and woman are to be rejected.” (Dignitas Infinita, 59)

“The dignity of the body cannot be considered inferior to that of the person as such.” (Dignitas Infinita, 60) We are body and soul. Our bodies are an intrinsic part of who we are and who God made us to be. To be made in the image of God does not merely apply to the soul and its faculties of the intellect and the will. It refers also to the body which has been gifted to us and the body holds an infinite dignity too. Therefore, attempts to change our biological sex amount to mutilation of what God has given to us. The desire to change it is a temptation to play God, to take the place of God.

The document does not present a full theological, philosophical, psychological, sociological, historical treatise on each of these different subjects and does not pretend to do so. There are many aspects of the different issues addressed in the declaration. This document focuses on the fundamental teaching of the Church which undergirds all teaching on these subjects – that every human being regardless of where they are in the stages of existence has dignity that never comes to an end.

Unlike human dignity, my space here is finite so I cannot address all or summarize every part of the document. Overall, it is a strong and wonderful document which is worth reading. There are some parts which can be a bit of a stretch, but don’t let those distract you from the truth once again reaffirmed by Holy Mother Church. I again refer you to two sources who have, in my estimation, the most accurate and insightful commentary on the text: www.pillarcatholic.com and www.ncregister.com. Do not let CNN or Fox News guide your thoughts on the declaration. Let’s go to the source text and to learned and trusted Catholic brothers and sisters to help us think correctly and with the Holy Spirit as we encounter this new declaration.

May the peace, joy, and hope of our Risen Lord Jesus be with you and your families!

~ Fr. Daniel Firmin

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