Briefing: Vatican report on grave threats to human dignity

The Vatican’s declaration on human dignity, Dignitas Infinita, has created headlines on what it says about sex change operations. Its 12,000 words conclude there are many grave threats to human dignity on issues such as poverty, human trafficking and war, alongside sexual and reproductive ethics. But although the section on gender theory, surrogacy, abortion and sex change operations is only 1,000 words long, it is dominating the reports.

In this Religion Media Centre briefing, the panel discussed why the document appeared to row back from more liberal moves on sexual ethics, with the Pope earlier giving the green light to gay blessings. Panellists suggested there had been a lack of consultation with trans and LGBTQ+ people, in contrast to moves towards great involvement of lay people in decision-making through synod discussions.

There was concern that the report would be used as a weapon against trans people, as those outside the church picked up comments from church leaders to attack groups they don’t like. And in America, where Catholic health institutions care for around one in five people, there was concern that new church directives on issues including gender transition may reflect the Vatican report and persuade people to offer “a condemnatory, or even a ban” on gender change operations.

Hosted by Leo Devine, our panellists were:

  • Christopher White, Vatican correspondent of the National Catholic Reporter
  • Robert Shine, Associate Director of New Ways Ministry, which campaigns for LGBTQ+ equity, inclusion, and justice
  • Canon Sarah Jones, trans Anglican priest

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Hannah Scott Joynt


Voice-over artist, award winning radio and TV presenter and BBC continuity announcer


Leo Devine

Leo's Local

Media and Training Consultant at Devine Media. Former BBC Journalist, Editor and Senior Leader


Rosie Dawson

Journo's Notebook

Freelance religion journalist, documentary maker and radio producer with 20+ years of experience in the BBC’s Religion and Ethics department

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