The Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio (seat of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) in Vatican City. A front view showing the yellow stuccoed and stone facade and ornate neoclassical entrance.

New Vatican document compares assisted dying and abortion to genocide

April 15, 2024

A new publication from the Vatican, on the theme of “human dignity,” places assisted dying and abortion alongside genocide and murder as examples of “offences against life.” It also condemns gender-affirming care and surrogate motherhood.

According to an article in Vatican News, the new document, Dignitas infinita, was five years in the making. It is published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, a department of the Roman Curia in charge of religious discipline. The document contains four sections, the first three outlining “fundamental principles” of human dignity and the fourth listing violations against it.

The list places abortion, euthanasia and surrogate motherhood alongside war, poverty and human trafficking as examples of ‘grave violations of human dignity’.

Assisted dying, described as “euthanasia” and/or “willful suicide,” is considered an example of “offences against life itself.” So too is abortion. The list of such offences also includes murder and genocide. Dignitas infinita also condemns what it calls “grave violations of human dignity.” This list, as Vatican News itself notes, places “abortion, euthanasia and surrogate motherhood…alongside war, poverty and human trafficking.”

Abortion is condemned with particular zeal. According to the new document, “among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable.” It is added that “defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right.”

Ironically, this document has been published to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations, which forged that statement, has since published various documents protecting the rights which the Vatican is now attacking.

The document also dedicates a section to condemning “gender theory,” which is described as “extremely dangerous since it cancels differences in its claims to make everyone equal.” Trans and non-binary identities are “a concession to the age-old temptation to make oneself God.” Gender-affirming care such as surgery “risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception.”

Ironically, this document has been published to mark the 75th anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations, which forged that statement, has since published various documents protecting the rights which the Vatican is now attacking. These include the right to reproductive health and to not face discrimination for transgender identity.

Dignitas infinita is, of course, not actually rooted in a commitment to human rights. Instead, it affirms a notion of “human dignity” which presents human life as an expression of divine will that must not be violated. This is a position with profoundly inhumane consequences that are revealed in all their oddity and contradiction in the Vatican’s latest pronouncements.

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Image: The Palace of the Holy Office in Vatican City, headquarters of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Image c. Wikipedia/Creative Commons.

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