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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Comiskey

Pope Francis, Do What You Declare: Dignitas Infinita, Part 2

If I were an LGBTQ+-identified person, I would be mad. How can Pope Francis bless me as ‘one born that way, God made me that way, and the Church loves me that way’  (Juan Carlos Cruz and transgender affirmations), even going out on a limb to bless my same-sex union (or some other ‘irregular’ coupling), then declare the likes of Dignitas Infinita? 

 

Like St. Paul in Romans 1, does the non-judgmental pope really believe that I am ‘making myself God’ (#57) in defying the natural order of male/female relating? Am I refusing my discovery of God-breathed dignity and identity by my rainbow citizenship (#59)?

 

That’s what the pope and his doctrine guy said. That’s how Pope Francis understands human sexual dignity. 


Yet his history of recorded pastoral affirmations and actions reveals an abyss between his doctrine and his deeds. Francis appears to concede continuously to people under the sway of the world’s ‘gender theory,’ the very evil he contends with more than any other in Dignitas!

 

Any reasonable LGBTQ+er person would read this declaration and wonder: really? Can I accept your acceptance of me if you say one thing and write another? And if I’ve got it all wrong, then how does this Jesus make it right?   

 

Perhaps Francis might stammer here. I have never heard the pope invite those oppressed by ‘gender theory’ to repentance. I have never heard him advocate for chastity in his accompaniment of sexually fractured people. His dislike of what drives rainbow culture doesn’t translate to his fight for those under its power.

 

I pray for Pope Francis to integrate Dignitas Infinita into his pastoral care: ‘Strive to live up to the full measure of your dignity’ (#22). He appeals to the moral, volitional components of living our dignity—'sin and wounds obscure that dignity’ and our ‘faith plays a decisive role…in accepting, consolidating and clarifying its [our dignity’s] essential features’ (#22).

 

Relate that to his clarity on living the Imago Dei: become who you are as a man made for woman, woman made for man. Anything less leaches the light out of the Creator’s will for our sexual clarity and creativity. Heed his words if not his pastoring: forego the theory that imprisons you and participate in your own dignity!

 

I wonder if Pope Francis is unaware of Jesus’ power to help people come out of the shadowy selves spawned by ‘gender theory.’ Dignitas alludes to redemption but doesn’t flesh it out. Heralding original dignity (God’s design) means little without busting the chains that bind dignity, e.g. original sin.

 

Well, a 20-page document can’t do everything. But he does bookend the entire document with human dignity rooted in Christ-centered redemption, beginning with his first point: ‘The Church resolutely reiterates and confirms the ontological dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed in Christ’ (#1).  While we are each made in God’s image, we can refuse His redemption. He concludes the document by declaring we are all ‘immensely holy’ (#65). Huh?

 

People are under the sway of foreign powers, including ‘gender theory,’ and can participate in or refuse that redemption. Encourage us to walk this out with strugglers, Pope Francis. That’s the fathering we need.

 

What we don’t need is Francis’ own nod to ‘gender theory.’ He was the first pope to codify ‘sexual orientation’ in Amoris Laetitia (#250) and employs that term again in Dignitas (#55). His use of ‘orientation’ to describe other sexual trajectories is rooted in ‘gender theory’; it is also detached from the only orientation proper to human dignity, described by John Paul ll as ‘the deep orientation to personally dignify what is intrinsic to his masculinity and to her femininity’ (Theology of the Body, 131:4). Anything less becomes a bulwark against the truth of our origins and the direction of our redemption.

 

Francis contributes to the very ‘theory’ he decries.

 

This is the Jesuitical doublespeak that I alluded to at the end of Part 1. Dignitas gives us a doctrinal overview of the indignities deforming humanity, especially our sexual selves, but leaves us vulnerable to the confusing pastoral application of Pope Francis and friends.   

 

In rolling out Dignitas, its underwriter, Cardinal Fernandez said this to all who disagree: fuhgeddaboudit; don’t worry, be happy. Invoking the ‘principle of welcoming’, he hopes to put at ease those in conflict with the truth: ‘All, all, all must be welcomed, even those who don’t agree with the Church and who make different choices, including those who think differently on the themes of sexuality’.

 

What do we make of this? Declare the truth but don’t hold people to it? That fails to satisfy anyone. Either the truth of Jesus’ love to take broken lives back to the garden is real or it isn’t. One may refuse Him but that doesn’t change the good news. Our good news.

 

What bothers me most about Francis’ and friends’ doublespeak is the lack of confidence in Jesus to set captives free, in this case, from the deformation of ‘gender theory.’

 

I urge Francis and friends: align doctrine with pastoral deeds. Merciful Jesus never fails to deliver. That requires truth in love with those we accompany. Our credibility and the saving of lives is at stake.


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