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Catholic Church blasts gender-affirming surgery and maternal surrogacy as affronts to human dignity

Vatican rejects gender-affirming surgery
Vatican rejects gender-affirming surgery, maternal surrogacy 05:13

Rome — The Vatican has blasted the practices of gender-affirming surgery and maternal surrogacy in a new document, declaring both are inconsistent with God's plan for human life. The Catholic Church's document puts both practices on a par with abortion and euthanasia in terms of their perceived negative impact on human dignity.

The document, titled "Infinite Dignity," reiterates the Catholic principle that individuals cannot alter their gender, as God created men and women with inherent biological differences. 

The declaration, which was developed over five years and approved by Pope Francis, stresses the importance of respecting these differences and cautions against attempts to contradict them and "make oneself God."

It makes allowances for the complexities surrounding "genital abnormalities" that can be present at birth or develop later in life, adding that such situations may be "resolved" with the assistance of health care professionals.

In addition to affirming traditional Catholic doctrine opposing abortion and euthanasia, the 20-page document also addresses contemporary issues including poverty, war, human trafficking and forced migration. 

On the topic of surrogacy, it flatly states the Roman Catholic Church's opposition, whether the woman carrying a child "is coerced into it or chooses to subject herself to it freely," because the child, according to the church, "becomes a mere means subservient to the arbitrary gain or desire of others."

The document has widely been seen as a reaffirmation of existing Vatican positions. Late in 2023, Pope Francis made headlines when he called surrogacy "deplorable" and voiced concern that the process could involve human trafficking as biological parents are sometimes in different countries than surrogate mothers.

Laws on surrogacy differ around the world, but only a few nations, and some states in the U.S., allow commercial surrogacy. Others allow altruistic surrogacy, where no money is exchanged, but many other nations, including most in Europe, have banned the practice altogether.

In 2017, Francis said in a speech that gender affirmation treatment constituted a violation of human dignity.

The new document's content and timing were taken as a nod to conservatives, after a more explosive document approving blessings for same-sex couples and allowing transgender people to be baptized and act as godparents sparked criticism from conservative bishops around the world, especially in Africa.

Pope Francis allows priests to bless same-sex couples 06:21

In 2023, the pontiff published a letter declaring: "We cannot be judges who only deny, reject, and exclude." 

Conservative clerics reeled, insisting that to bless same-sex couples was a contradiction of centuries of Catholic teaching.

American conservative leaders, in particular, warned that if Francis did not stick to doctrine, he could provoke a permanent split within the church. 

The latest document also warns of "unjust discrimination," especially in countries where transgender people are criminalized and imprisoned and, in some cases, even put to death.

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