Vatican declares transgender surgery should never be attempted

Pope Francis
Pope Francis delivers the Angelus blessing from his studio overlooking St Peter's Square on Sunday - Getty Images
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The Vatican has issued a scathing condemnation of gender reassignment, saying it represents a grave threat to the “dignity” of a person.

In a document that took five years to draw up, the Vatican said that “any sex change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception”.

The 20-page declaration, issued by the Vatican department responsible for Catholic doctrine, was approved by Pope Francis.

Entitled “Infinite Dignity”, it said men and women were created by God to be biologically different and that there should be no attempt to change their gender.

Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez with the declaration
Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez presents the Infinite Dignity declaration on changing sex - Gregorio Borgia/AP

The uncompromising stance was criticised by some LGBT groups.

“The Vatican is again supporting and propagating ideas that lead to real physical harm to transgender, non-binary and other LGBTQ+ people,” said Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry, an American organisation that campaigns for gay Catholics.

The Holy See document had failed to take into account “the growing reality that a person’s gender includes the psychological, social and spiritual aspects naturally present in their lives”, he added.

The declaration, called Dignitas Infinita in Latin, demonstrated a “stunning lack of awareness of the actual lives of transgender and non-binary people”, said Mr DeBernardo.

An ‘ugly ideology’

Pope Francis has previously denounced gender theory as an “ugly ideology” that contravenes the fundamental biological differences between men and women.

Elsewhere, the document comes to the defence of gay Catholics and denounces the fact that homosexuality is still criminalised in some countries.

“The fact that, in some places… people are imprisoned, tortured, and even deprived of the good of life solely because of their sexual orientation” was contrary to human dignity, it said.

The declaration, issued by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, reiterates the Vatican’s opposition to surrogacy, abortion, the death penalty and euthanasia.

It called for a global ban on couples using surrogate mothers to have babies, recalling that the Pope called the practice “despicable” earlier in 2024.

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