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Our readersMay 16, 2024
Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, takes notes during a news conference to present the dicastery's declaration, "Dignitas Infinita" ("Infinite Dignity") on human dignity, a copy of which is nearby, at the Vatican press office April 8, 2024. (CNS photo/Pablo Esparza)

On April 8, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith released “Dignitas Infinita,” which reaffirmed and clarified church teaching on a host of issues surrounding human dignity, including abortion, poverty, migration and gender identity. “If you are not challenged somewhere in your own moral thinking by reading [“Dignitas Infinita”], then you most likely have not read it thoroughly enough,” wrote Sam Sawyer, S.J., America’s editor in chief, in his Of Many Things column last month. Father Sawyer also joined “Inside the Vatican” host Colleen Dulle and Outreach’s new executive director, Michael O’Loughlin, for a roundtable discussion analyzing the declaration, including reactions from L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics. America’s coverage inspired conversation from readers grappling with the declaration’s teaching.

I am thankful for the church’s engagement with [transgender issues] and grateful for the positive steps and outreach that Pope Francis has made. But as a grandparent of a transgender teen, I must say that it is apparent the church still has a long way to go. I hope the pope’s synodal approach of prayerful listening can soon welcome those who are struggling with this hard and often tortuous journey. As we’ve seen, much can be learned through this process.

Bruce Daigle

Despite controversy, I hope this document moves us all to a better understanding of truth. My prayer would be for a follow-up document on the pastoral process because this document may cause a feeling among many of a more unwelcoming church for those seeking God. On the other hand, I always try to not let my disagreement with certain church teachings damage in any way my relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, some impacted by this document will suffer in disappointment. My prayers are with them and with Pope Francis.

Michael Barberi

One recent study [in the Netherlands] suggested that most people grow out of these transgender feelings. That means we should not be advocating for medical intervention. We should be talking to and treating these people. The lack of informed consent, secrecy and manipulation in this area is the culprit in so many bad decisions. Kindness does not mean we must provide sex change operations. 

Letitia Santiago

Most children may seem to grow out of any gender ambiguity. But a small percentage progress to the firm conviction that they have been assigned the wrong gender no matter the external genitalia, if they had not already developed such a conviction earlier. Without serious and professional treatment they have a strikingly high susceptibility to depression and suicide. I’m sure that there are probably a few charlatans working as doctors, but not at respected academic practices.

Joseph McGuire

Father Sawyer tells us: “Resist, at least for a little while, the temptation to find ‘takeaways’ or to boil [the declaration] down to the specifics of what it affirms or denies.” That seems almost impossible for many people I know—myself included, many times. I’m not sure if this is particular to people in the developed world or even just Americans, but instantaneous results seem to be in demand these days. A little over a century ago, just disseminating a document like this to the global Catholic population might have taken years. I’m not sure the speed at which we receive information has been a good thing for the people of God.

Stephen Healy

I am troubled by this document’s emphasis on every child’s right to “fully human and not artificially induced origin.” I mean that in all reverence—not only for the Incarnation and its implications for human dignity—but also for the dozens of students I have taught over the last decade  who were conceived through what the document deems artificial means. Do we really want to treat such people as if they were somehow deprived of a central feature of their humanity? Like other teaching documents in the history of the church, the important thing here is that this will open up channels for further discussion and raise further questions. 

John Watkins

In our church today, we seem to be “talking past each other” on the topic of sexuality, gender identity and related topics. With the hope that church doctrine will continue to develop in wisdom directed by the Holy Spirit, we need to talk with each other and work toward what is truly right and just. We need to guard against judging, condemning or criticizing others who disagree with us. Let’s hear each other and engage with related science!

Mary O’Neill

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