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Dignitas Infinita: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Above: the ugly “progress of human dignity” on display in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro.

Yesterday I discussed some of the important aspects which contextualise the new document on the “infinite dignity” of the human person (Dignitas Infinita). Without claiming to be an exhaustive analysis, we intend here to present the conflicted nature of the document, in order to give thanks for what is good, and cling to what is true.

Good: a Defence of the Poor against Liberalism

The greatest strength of the document, in my view, is its defence of the poor (36-37), and the poorest of the poor: the unborn. The most important way to defend the poor is to destroy Liberalism’s fundamental lie about human dignity.

The fundamental lie of Liberalism is that human dignity is based on power. In other words, you’re only as good as what you can do.

This is why Liberalism lied and said, “If you can’t vote, then your dignity is assaulted. Come, let us kill our father, the King, and create a democracy.”

This is why Feminism said, “Woman: you have no power. Come, let us assault the man and take his power, and then you will have your female dignity.”

This is why Communism said: “O ye poor, you have no power. Come, take this machine gun and kill the rich and take power from them. Then you will have dignity.”

This is why the Liberalism of 1776, 1789 and 1798 led straight to the unborn holocaust. After all, a child in the womb has no power, so he has no dignity. He can be killed without baptism.

Dignitas Infinita implicitly condemns this lie of Liberalism that “dignity is power” by critiquing the post-war document on human rights:

As Pope Francis has recalled, “In modern culture, the closest reference to the principle of the inalienable dignity of the person is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Saint John Paul II defined as a ‘milestone on the long and difficult path of the human race,’ and as ‘one of the highest expressions of the human conscience.’” To resist attempts to alter or annul the profound meaning of that Declaration, it is worth recalling some essential principles that must always be honored

First, while there has been a growing awareness of human dignity, many misunderstandings of the concept still distort its meaning. Some people propose that it is better to use the expression “personal dignity” (and the rights “of the person”) instead of “human dignity” (and the rights “of man”) since they understand a “person” to be only “one who is capable of reasoning.” They then argue that dignity and rights are deduced from the individual’s capacity for knowledge and freedom, which not all humans possess. Thus, according to them, the unborn child would not have personal dignity, nor would the older person who is dependent upon others, nor would an individual with mental disabilities. On the contrary, the Church insists that the dignity of every human person, precisely because it is intrinsic, remains “in all circumstances.” The recognition of this dignity cannot be contingent upon a judgment about the person’s ability to understand and act freely; otherwise, it would not be inherent in the person, independent of the individual’s situation, and thus deserving unconditional respect. Only by recognizing an intrinsic and inalienable dignity in every human being can we guarantee a secure and inviolable foundation for that quality. Without any ontological grounding, the recognition of human dignity would vacillate at the mercy of varying and arbitrary judgments. The only prerequisite for speaking about the dignity inherent in the person is their membership in the human species, whereby “the rights of the person are the rights of man” (23-24).

This section is probably the best part of the document, since it takes on the post-war narrative by critiquing that fundamental lie of Liberalism. And yet it fails to overcome the post-war narrative, and ultimately keeps the Church stuck in the year 1965, but I will return to that below.

Good: the Distinction between Ontological and Moral Dignity

This distinction is important for overcoming the death penalty heresy, even though the document does not overcome this heresy. But this distinction is nevertheless necessary to address the death penalty problem. This is discussed early on, and then summarised with these statements:

All people are called to manifest the ontological scope of their dignity on an existential and moral level as they, by their freedom, orient themselves toward the true good in response to God’s love. Thus, as one who is created in the image of God, the human person never loses his or her dignity and never ceases to be called to embrace the good freely. At the same time, to the extent that the person responds tothe good, the individual’s dignity can manifest itself freely, dynamically, and progressively; with that, it can also grow and mature. Consequently, each person must also strive to live up to the full measure of their dignity. In light of this, one can understand how sin can wound and obscure human dignity, as it is an act contrary to that dignity; yet, sin can never cancel the fact that the human being is created in the image and likeness of God (emphasis added, 22).

We will return to this below.

Good: Condemnation of the Gender Ideology Regime

Another section which is among the greatest of the document is the section (quoting His Holiness extensively) against the new Marxist gender regime:

[T]he Church highlights the definite critical issues present in gendertheory. On this point, Pope Francis has reminded us that “the path to peace calls for respect for human rights, in accordance with the simple yet clear formulation contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose seventy-fifth anniversary we recently celebrated. These principles are self-evident and commonly accepted. Regrettably, in recent decades, attempts have been made to introduce new rights that are neither fully consistent with those originally defined nor always acceptable. They have led to instances of ideological colonization, in which gender theory plays a central role; the latter is extremely dangerous since it cancels differences in its claim to make everyone equal.”

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 (56-57, emphasis added).

This powerful section against the gender conspiracy of the fallen angels comes after a more fundamental paragraph earlier which defended natural law against the idol of “freedom”:

Second, the concept of human dignity is also occasionally misused to justify an arbitrary proliferation of new rights, many of which are at odds with those originally defined and often are set in opposition to the fundamental right to life. It is as if the ability to express and realize every individual preference or subjective desire should be guaranteed. This perspective identifies dignity with an isolated and individualistic freedom that claims to impose particular subjective desires and propensities as “rights” to be guaranteed and funded by the community. However, human dignity cannot be based on merely individualistic standards, nor can it be identified with the psychophysical well-being of the individual. Rather, the defense of human dignity is based on the constitutive demands of human nature, which do not depend on individual arbitrariness or social recognition. Therefore, the duties that stem from recognizing the dignity of the other and the corresponding rights that flow from it have a concrete and objective content based on our shared human nature. Without such an objective basis, the concept of dignity becomes de facto subject to the most diverse forms of arbitrariness and power interests (25).

And again in another place:

Indeed, there is an ever-growing risk of reducing human dignity to the ability to determine one’s identity and future independently of others, without regard for one’s membership in the human community. In this flawed understanding of freedom, the mutual recognition of duties and rights that enable us to care for each other becomes impossible. In fact, as Pope St. John Paul II recalled, freedom is placed “at the service of the person and of his fulfillment through the gift of self and openness to others; but when freedom is made absolute in an individualistic way, it is emptied of its original content, and its very meaning and dignity are contradicted.” (26)

Bad: Homo Heresy Omitted

The section just quoted implicitly condemns all gender theory and the whole homo heresy itself. However, in the final section which condemns various grave errors against human dignity in our time, an explicit condemnation of the homo heresy is conspicuous by its absence. Since His Eminence already praised his ridiculous Fiducia errors and claimed dictatorial powers over the whole world by condemning the “iniquitous laws” against sodomy, this makes it look like every strength in this present document is meant as a smokescreen to hide the backdoor that let in the fallen angels with Fiducia. This is a great evil of omission in the document, but it is not the worst part of the document, which we will discuss below.

Good: Against Digital Violence

Another strong point of the document is in confronting the reality of “digital violence.”:

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.’ Digital media can expose people to the risk of addiction, isolation, and gradual loss of contact with concrete reality, blocking the development of authentic interpersonal relationships. New forms of violence are spreading through social media, for example, cyberbullying. The internet is also a channel for spreading pornography and the exploitation of persons for sexual purposes or through gambling (Footenote: Francis, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit (25 March 2019), no. 88: AAS 111 (2019), 413, quoting the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Final Document (27 October 2018)no. 23). (61)

The terror of evil really is hard to overestimate. In my view, this is one of the most pressing issues, as I see so much grave sin on the internet, even from self-professed “faithful Catholics” (“Don’t Let Social Media Send You to Hell”). As I said before about Church Militant,I myself tremble in fear for my own soul because of this. God grant that what I publish here may always be in accord with truth and charity. Pray for me, and for OnePeterFive against this sin.

Bad: Repeating the Death Penalty Heresy

As we discussed yesterday, this is critically important for the dogma of the Two Swords. The heresy goes beyond error into heresy when it is said (or implied) that the death penalty is intrinsically evil. And this is how the document puts it: “Here, one should also mention the death penalty, for this also violates the inalienable dignity of every person, regardless of the circumstances (emphasis added)” (34). On the contrary, the Holy Ghost Himself – implying the distinction between ontological and moral dignity mentioned above – uses human dignity to justify the death penalty: Whosoever shall shed man’s blood, his blood shall be shed: for man was made to the image of God (Gen. ix. 6).

Bad: the Religious Freedom Ambiguity

In the post-war narrative, the phrase “religious freedom” is dangerously ambiguous (it is mentioned in passing at no. 31). The reason is that there is a true, Catholic doctrine of toleration, but in the post-war environment, this true doctrine is impossible to distinguish from the American and Liberal heresy of religious liberty. And this failure began with Vatican II, despite the preamble of Dignitatus Humanae.

Bad: Loss of Hierarchy

The term “hierarchy” means “sacred order.” The fact is that God Himself is a hierarchy of divine Persons, and He has ordered all persons – whether angelic or human – into a sacred order, or hierarchy. This is how the true communio personarum creates “harmony” instead of monotone.

Liberalism, assuming that dignity is power, attacked all hierarchy. They started with the Monarchy (secular Republicanism), then the classes (Communism), then the sexes (Feminism). In the post-war milieu, even the new Catechism cannot bring itself to repeat the hierarchy of the sexes contained in Matrimony and inspired by the Holy Spirit in Scripture (and in fairness, we should mention that this gained ground when Pius XII started abolishing nobility among the clergy).

Dignitas Infinita is no different. Unless the hierarchy is restored and affirmed as true doctrine, there can be no lasting defence of true human dignity against Liberalism, since the hierarchy utterly obliterates the lie that dignity is power. This is because in the Christian hierarchy, the stronger serves the lower and the lower submits to the higher. Without this emphasis, the Church will continually be locked in the post-war narrative, and that’s the ugliness of the document.

Ugly: Neo-Modernist, Post-War Narrative

As I have stated elsewhere, it is critically important that we understand Vatican II as the “post-war Council.” It seems that almost everything flows from this. After the wrath of God was poured out in World War II, it really did seem like these statements were true in 1965:

For this reason, the Second Vatican Council speaks of the “sublime dignity of the human person, who stands above all things and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable.”As theopening lineofthe conciliar Declaration Dignitatis Humanae recalls, “contemporary man is becoming increasingly conscious of the dignity of the human person; more and more people are demanding that men should exercise fully their own judgment and a responsible freedom in their actions and should not be subject to the pressure of coercion but be inspired by a sense of duty” (16). 

If you can’t understand why the Council would say such a thing (which seems absurd to us), then read the aforementioned article to understand the context of 1965. It is indeed difficult for those who did not live through the war to understand the trauma that it brought and the hope which grew when it ended.

But after this year, the reality is that the post-war world rejected the medicine of mercy which was offered by the Church at Vatican II. As a result a torrent of ugliness swept the world: the ugliness of sin (the Second Sexual Revolution after 1968 and the unborn holocaust), the ugliness of lies (the false Cold War between earthly Empires) and the ugliness of modern art (in the name of “freedom”).

Those who cannot see the ugliness are still locked in the post-war mentality and they can’t get out. They’re frozen in amber in the year 1965. We can forgive Wojtyła and Ratzinger for this, because they actually lived through the war themselves and saw the beauty and optimism (that was real, not imagined) in the 1950s. Bergoglio also lived through the war as a very young child, but he was formed in the 1960s and ordained in 1969, a time when the rational optimism of the post-war world was being transported away from reality itself. This is the fantasy world that Bergoglio and Fernández live in (the latter’s fantasy world seems to be of his own making, which is more troubling indeed).  

This ugly post-war fantasy world is on display in the following quotation:

At the same time, human history shows clear progress in understanding human dignity and freedom, albeit not without shadows and risks of regression. Such advancement in understanding human dignity is demonstrated by the fact that there is an increasing desire to eradicate racism, slavery, and the marginalization of women, children, the sick, and people with disabilities. This aspiration has been bolstered under the influence of the Christian faith, which continues to be a ferment, even in increasingly secularized societies. However, the arduous journey of advancing human dignity remains far from completion (32).

“Clear progress” is anything but. Rather, this first sentence could have been written by genocidal French revolutionaries who were massacring priests and nuns. But the post-war narrative makes this especially tempting. But did you notice the implicit condemnation of hierarchy? “The arduous journey of advancing human dignity” has been the ideology of Liberalism, Communism and Feminism since 1776. And this brings us back to sections 3-6, which are the ugliest parts of the document. This is because they impose the false, post-war narrative on the modern Magisterium. Even Vatican II didn’t go that far, but Dignitatus Humanae specifically said that the decrees of the “Pian Magisterium” against Liberalism (1789-1958) remained “untouched” and Lumen Gentium confirmed that everything in Vatican II only carries the theological note according to the traditional rules thereof (Lumen Gentium, appendix). Pope St. John Paul II, himself the charismatic yet reckless leader of the post-war dream, affirmed the anti-Modernist phraseology in Veritatis Splendor (“same sense and same understanding”).

But for the Francis pontificate, this “hermeneutic of continuity” must be done away with, to make room for the infinite progress of Neo-Modernism. And that’s what sections 3-6 do, by selectively citing the pre-Vatican II Magisterium, then quoting subsequent Popes which firmly imprison the Church inside the year 1965 yet open the door to the evolution of dogma. This rupture is summed up later in this statement:

The Church’s Magisterium progressively developed an ever-greater understanding of the meaning of human dignity, along with its demands and consequences, until it arrived at the recognition that the dignity of every human being prevails beyond all circumstances (16).

In the face of Liberalism, this establishes that the Church has been trying to “progress” toward the year 1965. Thus all of the Magisterial pronouncements against Liberalism before Vatican II can now be thrown into the trash forever. It turns out Bl. Pius IX and the other popes of that era were just flat out wrong about Liberalism, Communism and Feminism. These Popes just couldn’t figure out that human dignity “prevails beyond all circumstances.” With this progressive historical ideology, there can never be any hermeneutic of continuity ever again. This effectively removes that phrase from Dignitatus Humanae which keeps the pre-Vatican II Magisterium “untouched.” With Dignitas Infinita, there is now an “infinite progress” of history toward the Omega Point of the Antichrist. There need not be any “same sense and same understanding.” The rights of Christ the King have been overthrown, and the ugliness of man making himself god is the new religion. With these statements, Dignitas Infinita opens the door even wider for this progressive movement toward disaster.

In short, there is much good in this document (some of which I didn’t have space to discuss, like St. Thomas’s definition of a person), but there are also some bad things and one very ugly thing which skillfully justifies the new iconoclasm of this pontificate. Yet, here we are in Paschaltide, mindful that His Majesty is about to ascend His throne. Christ is risen, and, He says, ascending His heavenly throne, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth (Mt. xxviii. 18).

Fear not, brethren. For Jesus is King! Buy your Sacred Heart flag now to celebrate His Majesty, especially in June.

T. S. Flanders
Christ is Risen!

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