April 10, 2024

Declaration of the Dicastery
for the Doctrine of the Faith
“Dignitas Infinita regarding human dignity”

On the 8th of April, 2024, the Vatican presented to Christendom and to the world their five year study on Human Dignity.  In this document, written in seven languages (Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish), the introduction explains:

“On 2 February 2024, a new and significantly modified version of this text was sent to the Members of the Dicastery ahead of the Ordinary Session (Feria IV) on 28 February 2024. The letter accompanying the draft included the following clarification: “This additional drafting was necessary to meet a specific request of the Holy Father: namely, he explicitly urged that more attention be given to the grave violations of human dignity in our time, particularly in light of the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti. With this, the Doctrinal Office took steps to reduce the initial part […] and to develop in greater detail what the Holy Father indicated.” The text of the current Declaration was finally approved during the above-mentioned Feria IV of 28 February 2024. Then, in the Audience granted to me and to Monsignor Armando Matteo, Secretary of the Doctrinal Section, on 25 March 2024, the Holy Father approved this Declaration and ordered its publication.

The five-year course of the text’s preparation helps us to understand that the document before us reflects the gravity and centrality of the theme of dignity in Christian thought. The text required a considerable process of maturation to arrive at the final version that we have published today.

In its initial three sections, the Declaration recalls fundamental principles and theoretical premises, with the goal of offering important clarifications that can help avoid frequent confusion that surrounds the use of the term “dignity.” The fourth section presents some current and problematic situations in which the immense and inalienable dignity due to every human being is not sufficiently recognized. The Church sees the condemnation of these grave and current violations of human dignity as a necessary measure, for she sustains the deep conviction that we cannot separate faith from the defense of human dignity, evangelization from the promotion of a dignified life, and spirituality from a commitment to the dignity of every human being.

This dignity of every human being can be understood as “infinite” (dignitas infinita), as Pope St. John Paul II affirmed in a meeting for people living with various limitations or disabilities.[1] He said this to show how human dignity transcends all outward appearances and specific aspects of people’s lives.

In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis wanted to underscore that this dignity exists “beyond all circumstances.” With this, he summoned all people to defend human dignity in every cultural context and every moment of human existence, regardless of physical, psychological, social, or even moral deficiencies. The Declaration strives to show that this is a universal truth that we are all called to recognize as a fundamental condition for our societies to be truly just, peaceful, healthy, and authentically human.

Although not comprehensive, the topics discussed in this Declaration are selected to illuminate different facets of human dignity that might be obscured in many people’s consciousness. Some topics may resonate more with some sectors of society than others. Nevertheless, all of them strike us as being necessary because, taken together, they help us recognize the harmony and richness of the thought about human dignity that flows from the Gospel.

This Declaration does not set out to exhaust such a rich and crucial subject. Instead, its aim is to offer some points for reflection that can help us maintain an awareness of human dignity amid the complex historical moment in which we are living. This is so that we may not lose our way and open ourselves up to more wounds and profound sufferings amid the numerous concerns and anxieties of our time….”


1. (Dignitas infinita) Every human person possesses an infinite dignity, inalienably grounded in his or her very being, which prevails in and beyond every circumstance, state, or situation the person may ever encounter. This principle, which is fully recognizable even by reason alone, underlies the primacy of the human person and the protection of human rights. In the light of Revelation, the Church resolutely reiterates and confirms the ontological dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed in Jesus Christ. From this truth, the Church draws the reasons for her commitment to the weak and those less endowed with power, always insisting on “the primacy of the human person and the defense of his or her dignity beyond every circumstance.”[2]”

Some specific topics include:

“The Indelible Image of God

18. The first conviction, drawn from Revelation, holds that the dignity of the human person comes from the love of the Creator, who has imprinted the indelible features of his image on every person (cf. Gen. 1:26)”

“Christ Elevates Human Dignity

19. The second conviction follows from the fact that the dignity of the human person was revealed in its fullness when the Father sent his Son, who assumed human existence to the full: “In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God confirmed the dignity of the body and soul which constitute the human being.”

A Commitment to One’s Own Freedom

22. Every individual possesses an inalienable and intrinsic dignity from the beginning of his or her existence as an irrevocable gift. However, the choice to express that dignity and manifest it to the full or to obscure it depends on each person’s free and responsible decision.”

“The Drama of Poverty

36. One of the phenomena that contributes significantly to denying the dignity of so many human beings is extreme poverty, linked as it is to the unequal distribution of wealth. As Pope St. John Paul II emphasized, “One of the greatest injustices in the contemporary world consists precisely in this: that the ones who possess much are relatively few and those who possess almost nothing are many. It is the injustice of the poor distribution of the goods and services originally intended for all.”

“Sexual Abuse

43. The profound dignity inherent in human beings in their entirety of mind and body also allows us to understand why all sexual abuse leaves deep scars in the hearts of those who suffer it. Indeed, those who suffer sexual abuse experience real wounds in their human dignity.”

“Violence Against Women

44. Violence against women is a global scandal that is gaining increasing recognition. While the equal dignity of women may be recognized in words, the inequalities between women and men in some countries remain very serious. Even in the most developed and democratic countries, the concrete social reality testifies to the fact that women are often not accorded the same dignity as men.”


47. The Church consistently reminds us that “the dignity of every human being has an intrinsic character and is valid from the moment of conception until natural death.”

“Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

51. There is a special case of human dignity violation that is quieter but is swiftly gaining ground. It is unique in how it utilizes a mistaken understanding of human dignity to turn the concept of dignity against life itself.”

“The Marginalization of People with Disabilities

53. One criterion for verifying whether real attention is given to the dignity of every individual in society is the help given to the most disadvantaged. Regrettably, our time is not known for such care; rather, a “throwaway culture” is increasingly imposing itself.”

“Gender Theory

55. The Church wishes, first of all, “to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence.”…

57. Regarding gender theory, whose scientific coherence is the subject of considerable debate among experts, the Church recalls that human life in all its dimensions, both physical and spiritual, is a gift from God. This gift is to be accepted with gratitude and placed at the service of the good. Desiring a personal self-determination, as gender theory prescribes, apart from this fundamental truth that human life is a gift, amounts to a concession to the age-old temptation to make oneself God, entering into competition with the true God of love revealed to us in the Gospel.

58. Another prominent aspect of gender theory is that it intends to deny the greatest possible difference that exists between living beings: sexual difference.”

“Sex Change

60. The dignity of the body cannot be considered inferior to that of the person as such. The Catechism of the Catholic Church expressly invites us to recognize that “the human body shares in the dignity of ‘the image of God.’”… It follows that any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception. This is not to exclude the possibility that a person with genital abnormalities that are already evident at birth or that develop later may choose to receive the assistance of healthcare professionals to resolve these abnormalities. However, in this case, such a medical procedure would not constitute a sex change in the sense intended here.”

“Digital Violence

61. Although the advancement of digital technologies may offer many possibilities for promoting human dignity, it also increasingly tends toward the creation of a world in which exploitation, exclusion, and violence grow, extending even to the point of harming the dignity of the human person. Consider, for example, how easy it is through these means to endanger a person’s good name with fake news and slander. On this point, Pope Francis stresses that “it is not healthy to confuse communication with mere virtual contact. Indeed, ‘the digital environment is also one of loneliness, manipulation, exploitation, and violence, even to the extreme case of the ‘dark web.’”


66. Even today, in the face of so many violations of human dignity that seriously threaten the future of the human family, the Church encourages the promotion of the dignity of every human person, regardless of their physical, mental, cultural, social, and religious characteristics. The Church does this with hope, confident of the power that flows from the Risen Christ, who has fully revealed the integral dignity of every man and woman. This certainty becomes an appeal in Pope Francis’ words directed to each of us: “I appeal to everyone throughout the world not to forget this dignity which is ours. No one has the right to take it from us.”[116]

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