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Inside the VaticanApril 12, 2024
Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, speaks at a news conference to present the dicastery's declaration, "Dignitas Infinita" ("Infinite Dignity") on human dignity at the Vatican press office April 8, 2024. Priests from the dicastery's doctrinal section joined reporters for the presentation. (CNS photo/Pablo Esparza)

The Vatican released a document on human dignity this week, that has been much discussed because of its sections denouncing what it calls “gender theory” and “sex change.”

In this special round table episode of “Inside the Vatican,” America Editor-in-Chief Father Sam Sawyer and the Executive Director of Outreach, America’s LGBT Catholic resource, Michael O’Loughlin, join host Colleen Dulle for a discussion on the document “Dignitas Infinita” and the pastoral challenges it presents in the guests’ ministry to LGBT Catholics.

“It was disappointing to some people we talked to, but they weren't surprised by it,” says Mike of his work at Outreach. “At the same time, there was this sort of sense of, how do we make sense of Pope Francis' pastoral outreach to the LGBT community, including the transgender community, where he's made a special point to meet with transgender people, learn about their lives and experiences, but not see that present in this document?”

Father Sawyer adds, “One place where I wish the document had approached something a little bit differently was I wish it had affirmed more clearly, had affirmed explicitly at the same time that it was critiquing gender theory and sex change, that transgender people have a place in the church.”

While “this is not a document that is a charter for the exclusion of trans people from the life of the church,” Father Sawyer says, “I wish that the document had actually said so even in the same paragraphs where it was being really critical about the things that the church cannot accept. I think, pastorally, there will be a need to underline some of that.”

Links from the show:

Gerard O’Connell: New Vatican doc ‘Dignitas Infinita’: What it says on gender theory, surrogacy, poverty and more

Michael O’Loughlin: Vatican condemnation of “gender theory” a moment of whiplash for LGBTQ Catholics

Sam Sawyer, S.J.: The right and wrong way to read the new Vatican doc on dignity

Nathan Schneider: The trouble with ‘gender ideology’

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