Dignitas Infinita ("Infinite Dignity")[1] is a 2024 declaration on Catholic doctrine that outlines the importance of human dignity, explains its connection to God, and condemns a variety of current violations of human dignity, including human rights violations, discrimination against women, abortion and gender theory.[2] The document is dated 2 April 2024 and was released on 8 April 2024 after a press conference.[3][4] Dignitas Infinita was issued by the Holy See's Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved with a signature by Pope Francis. It follows Fiducia Supplicans, which was released in 2023.[5] The declaration was generally well-received by Catholic clergy and laypeople,[6] although it received criticism from those who argued against the Church's position on many of the issues covered.[7]


The Palace for the Holy Office in Rome, where the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith is based

Work on Dignitas Infinita began in 2019, when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (renamed the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2022) decided to commence "the drafting of a text highlighting the indispensable nature of the dignity of the human person" in "social, political, and economic realms". After multiple drafts and years of work, in 2023, a draft of the declaration was sent to the Dicastery for review. The Dicastery accepted this amended version, and the text was brought to Pope Francis for review by Víctor Manuel Cardinal Fernández, the head of the Dicastery. The Pope then instructed Cardinal Fernández to place a further emphasis on current violations of human dignity in the declaration, and to make further connections in it to Fratelli Tutti, a 2020 encyclical by the Pope. By February of 2024, these changes were made, and in a March 2024 audience held with Pope Francis by Cardinal Fernández and Monsignor Matteo, Secretary of the Doctrinal Section, Dignitas Infinita was ordered to be published.[8][9] The declaration was originally planned to be released with the name Al di là di ogni circostanza' ("Beyond any Circumstance"), but Dignitas Infinita ("Infinite Dignity") was chosen instead.[4][10]

On 6 April 2024, the Holy See Press Office announced the declaration in a press release. In a press conference held on 8 April, attended by Cardinal Fernández, Monsignor Matteo and Professor Scarcella, the declaration was released.[11]





Dignitas Infinita is split into four main sections, with the first three recalling fundamental principles related to human dignity, and the fourth outlining modern violations of human dignity around the world, alongside an introduction. The introduction states that human dignity can be split into four categories, specifically "ontological dignity", "moral dignity", "social dignity" and "existential dignity".[8]

The first section, titled "A Growing Awareness of the Centrality of Human Dignity", presents the history of the concept of human dignity, from classical antiquity to the modern age. The section places central importance on how human dignity is presented in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and how this was interpreted by the Church Fathers and theologians such as Thomas Aquinas.[12] The second section, titled "The Church Proclaims, Promotes, and Guarantees Human Dignity", argues that as humans are created in the image and likeness of God, as Jesus Christ became man, and as humans are destined to enter into Heaven, all humans have a divinely granted indelible human dignity.[4] The third section, titled "Dignity, the Foundation of Human Rights and Duties", connects the concept of human dignity to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, argues against moral relativism, and argues that humans deserve freedom.[12][13][8]

The fourth section, titled "Some Grave Violations of Human Dignity", presents the list of "some grave violations of human dignity", and is the longest section of the declaration. The declaration states that "all offences against life itself, such as murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, and willful suicide" are contrary to human dignity, alongside "all violations of the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture, undue psychological pressures" and "all offences against human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children [and] degrading working conditions".[5][12][14][9] The document offers an updated articulation of the Church's stance on surrogacy, claiming that it violates both the dignity of both the child and the surrogate mother.[15] The declaration is notable for its particular focus on the issue of gender theory, with Dignitas Infinita being the first major Catholic document addressing the subject in detail.[12] The declaration argues gender theory is "extremely dangerous since it cancels differences in its claim to make everyone equal", and thus "all attempts to obscure reference to the ineliminable sexual difference between man and woman" are "to be rejected".[16][8] While the declaration condemns undue homophobia and discrimination,[17] it condemns gender-affirming surgery as a threat to an individual's dignity.[15] It permits sexual surgery for people with medical genital abnormalities.[17] The document also omits language from a 1986 doctrinal document that characterized homosexual acts as "intrinsically disordered".[15] Additionally, the section condemns the death penalty, furthering Pope Francis' argument against the use of capital punishment.[18][8]

The conclusion connects the declaration to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and reminds the reader once again of the importance of human dignity for all persons, regardless of their physical, mental, cultural, social, and religious characteristics.[8]



The Declaration draws heavily from the teachings of Francis,[19] but also of his predecessors Paul VI,[20] John Paul II[21] and Benedict XVI;[22] this was described as a notable departure from previous DDF documents (such as Fiducia Supplicans), which tended to cite papal teaching almost exclusively from Francis. Some sections of the Declaration also quote older documents from Paul III,[23] Leo XIII,[24] Pius XI[25] and a speech from Pius XII.[26] The documents of the Second Vatican Council[27] are also quoted quite frequently, as are the writings of the Apostolic Fathers[28] and of the Church Fathers.[29][30] However, some pointed out that the Document failed to quote the encyclical Veritatis splendor of Pope John Paul II, which defended the existence of moral absolutes.[30]



Dignitas Infinita was generally well received by Catholic clergy and laypeople. Catholic priest Father Tom Berg wrote that the declaration contains "some of the strongest moral language - categorical and exceptionless - that I have seen in any teaching by Francis" and that its rejection of moral relativism and its focus on the primacy of human reason is "pleasing" and "important". Abigail Favale, expert in gender at the University of Notre Dame also noted that the clear condemnation of gender theory in the document is a "welcome clarification" that can lead to "effective pastoral practices".[12] Theologian Charlie Camosy also noted the importance of its focus on gender theory,[6] while Father Raymond J. de Souza wrote on the National Catholic Register that the declaration "will open new avenues for discussion, apologetics and evangelization".[31]

Cardinal Wilton Daniel Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, praised the document as "balanced and challenging", while Archbishop of Santiago de Chile Fernando Chomalí Garib said it possessed "an extraordinary intellectual and spiritual depth".[32][33] Chiego Noguchi, a spokesperson for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed the Conference's gratitude towards Pope Francis for the Document, stating that it "emphasizes the long tradition of the church on the importance of always recognizing, respecting, and protecting the dignity of the human person in all circumstances.”[34]

However, Dignitas Infinita did receive criticism from pro-LGBT groups. Nicolete Burbach, a transgender social justice expert from the London Jesuit Centre, said that the document demonstrated a failure from the Vatican to engage with queer and feminist views, which according to him "simply dismisses as supposedly subjecting both the body and human dignity itself to human whims".[35] Francis DeBarnardo, the director of New Ways Ministry, also heavily criticised the document for "supporting and propagating ideas that lead to real physical harm to transgender, nonbinary, and other LGBT people, while Jamie Manson of Catholics for Choice also said that she does not "buy that women who choose abortion and Catholics who support abortion rights are 'evil' as this document suggests" (both New Ways Ministry and Catholics for Choice have repeatedly been condemned by both the USCCB, the CCCB and the Holy See).[12][36] Sister Jeannine Gramick SL, a leading member of New Ways Ministry wrote a letter to Pope Francis, criticizing language used in the Declaration in relation to LGBT people; the Pope replied that "transgender people must be accepted and integrated into society", but reinstated the condemnation of gender ideology and sex reassignment in the Declaration. He added that "gender ideology" means "something other than homosexual or transsexual people. Gender ideology makes everyone equal without respect for personal history. I understand the concern about that paragraph in Dignitas Infinita, but it refers not to transgender people but to gender ideology, which nullifies differences."[37]

Father James J. Martin SJ, well known for his pro-LGBT views, praised the document for condemning discrimination against homosexuals, but also said that the passages on gender theory and sex change were “not surprising” and "in line with previous Vatican statements" on the issue. He also expressed his hope that the condemnation of gender theory and sex reassignment were not used to justify transphobia.[34]

See also



  1. ^ "Vatican document on human dignity condemns gender transition". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  2. ^ "New Vatican document lists 'grave violations' of human dignity - Vatican News". www.vaticannews.va. 2024-04-08. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  3. ^ "Notice of Press Conference". press.vatican.va. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  4. ^ a b c "Vatican says abortion, surrogacy, war, poverty are attacks on human dignity | USCCB". www.usccb.org. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  5. ^ a b "Doctrinal declaration opens possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations - Vatican News". www.vaticannews.va. 2023-12-18. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  6. ^ a b "Live updates: 'Dignitas infinita' emphasizes 'ontological dignity'". The Pillar. 2024-04-08. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  7. ^ "Vatican blasts gender-affirming surgery, surrogacy and gender theory as violations of human dignity". AP News. 2024-04-08. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Declaration of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith "Dignitas Infinita" on Human Dignity". press.vatican.va. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  9. ^ a b "U.S. Catholic leaders applaud Vatican document on human dignity". America Magazine. 2024-04-08. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  10. ^ "Cardinal Fernández: Every single person has dignity - Vatican News". www.vaticannews.va. 2024-04-08. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  11. ^ Conferenza Stampa di presentazione della "Dichiarazione Dignitas infinita, circa la dignità umana". Retrieved 2024-04-09 – via www.youtube.com.
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Vatican's 'Dignitas Infinita' Draws 'Clear Line' on Gender Theory, Receives Widespread Praise". NCR. 2024-04-09. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  13. ^ "'Dignitas Infinita': New Vatican Document on Human Dignity Condemns Gender Transition, Surrogacy, Abortion". NCR. 2024-04-08. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  14. ^ "Vatican stands firm on social issues like sex change and surrogacy". 2024-04-08. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  15. ^ a b c Winfield, Nicole (8 April 2024). "Vatican characterizes gender-affirming surgery, surrogacy as violations of human dignity". PBS NewsHour.
  16. ^ "Cardinal Fernández: Every single person has dignity - Vatican News". www.vaticannews.va. 2024-04-08. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  17. ^ a b "Vatican denounces gender-affirming surgery, gender theory and surrogacy". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  18. ^ "New Vatican doc 'Dignitas Infinita': What it says on gender theory, surrogacy, poverty and more". America Magazine. 2024-04-08. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  19. ^ Francis, ap.exhort. Evangelii gaudium, AAS 105 (2013); encyc.lett. Laudato si', AAS 107 (2015); ap.exhort. Amoris laetitia AAS 108 (2016); encyc.lett. Fratelli tutti, AAS 112 (2020); ap.exhort. Laudate Deum, L’Osservatore Romano (4 ottobre 2023).
  20. ^ Paul VI, encyc. lett. Populorum progressio, AAS 59 (1967)
  21. ^ John Paul II, encyc.lett. Redemptor hominis, AAS 71 (1979); encyc.lett. Sollicitudo rei socialis, AAS 80 (1988); encyc.lett., Evangelium vitae, AAS 87 (1995).
  22. ^ Benedict XVI, encyc.lett. Caritas in veritate, AAS 101 (2009)
  23. ^ Paul III, brf. Pastorale officium, 29 May 1537
  24. ^ Leo XIII, encyc.letter Rerum novarum, ASS 23 (1891)
  25. ^ Pius XI, encyc.lett. Quadragesimo anno, AAS 23 (1931)
  26. ^ Pius XII, Discorso al Congresso dell'Unione Cattolica Italiana Ostetriche, AAS 43 (1951)
  27. ^ Conc .Ecum. Vat. II, const. Gaudium et spes, AAS 58 (1966); decl. Dignitatis humanae, AAS 58 (1966).
  28. ^ Clement I, 1 Clem, PG 1
  29. ^ Theophilus of Antioch, Apology to Autolycus, PG 6; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, PG 8; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, PG 7; Origen, On the First Principles, PG 11; Augustine of Hippo, De Genesis ad litteram, PL 34; On the Trinity, PL 42.
  30. ^ a b Liedl, Jonathan (9 April 2024). "Vatican's 'Dignitas Infinita' Draws 'Clear Line' on Gender Theory, Receives Widespread Praise". National Catholic Register.
  31. ^ De Souza, Raymond J. (2024-04-09). "'Dignitas Infinita' and the Roots of Human Dignity". National Catholic Register.
  32. ^ Wells, Christopher (2024-04-11). "Cardinal Gregory sees 'Dignitas infinita' as balanced, challenging document - Vatican News". Vatican News.
  33. ^ "Dignitas infinita: mons. Chomali (vescovi cileni), "straordinaria profondità intellettuale e spirituale" - AgenSIR". AgenSIR - Servizio Informazione Religiosa (in Italian). 17 April 2024.
  34. ^ a b Christian, Gina (8 April 2024). "U.S. Catholic leaders applaud Vatican document on human dignity". America.
  35. ^ "Vatican blasts gender-affirming surgery, surrogacy and gender theory as violations of human dignity". AP News. 2024-04-08. Retrieved 2024-04-09.
  36. ^ U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops – NCCB/USCC President Issues Statement on Catholics for a Free Choice Archived November 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, May 10, 2000.
  37. ^ Gramick, Jeannine (1 May 2024). "After Vatican text, pope tells Jeannine Gramick: Trans people 'must be accepted'". National Catholic Reporter.