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Initial Thoughts on "Dignitas Infinita"

After a first read of Dignitas Infinita, I share a few of my initial thoughts here.

Today, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith released Dignitas Infinita (“infinite dignity”), a long-awaited document on human dignity. The document is published with an extensive history of its genesis, indicating more than five years of deliberation and development.

I just completed my first reading and share some initial thoughts here.

  1. The document speaks highly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is positioned as a “milestone” of our collective understanding of humanity and an important “reference to the principle of the inalienable dignity of the person.”

  2. The fourth section of the document - “Some Grave Violations of Human Dignity” - will be where most people focus their attention. I do not think the order of presentation is intended to rank the gravity of these life issues, but the order in which these violations are listed is notable. In the past, abortion would be expected to be the first and perhaps described as the most grave violation of human dignity. Abortion, euthanasia, and suicide do remain on this list, but are mentioned after many others: The Drama of Poverty, War, The Travail of Migrants, Human Trafficking, Sexual Abuse, and Violence Against Women. This approach does not minimize the concern the church has with abortion, but thoughtfully places it in a comprehensive understanding of the many violations of human dignity that are experienced across the globe.

  3. Just before concluding the document, the topic of digital violence is addressed. Specifically, the dangers of digital environments (isolation, addiction, cyberbullying, etc.) are mentioned, but not without contextualizing digital technologies within their potential benefit to humanity. We must use the internet and related technologies for our common good.

This is an important takeaway for today’s technologists:

…if technology is to serve human dignity and not harm it, and if it is to promote peace rather than violence, then the human community must be proactive in addressing these trends with respect to human dignity and the promotion of the good

I need a little more time to digest the sections on Gender Theory and Sex Change, both of which have important implications on the Catholic health care ministry.