Vatican Opposes Sex Change Operations, Surrogacy

08 April 2024

The Roman Catholic Church has declared its opposition to sex change operations and surrogacy. The Vatican said those activities violate human dignity. It compared them to abortion and euthanasia, saying they reject God's plan for human life.

The Vatican issued a 20-page declaration called Infinite Dignity. The document took five years to produce. It came four months after conservatives reacted to Pope Francis's support for same-sex partners.

Sex change

FILE - A general view shows the crowd during the Easter Mass as part of the Holy Week celebrations, at St Peter's Square in the Vatican on March 31, 2024. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
FILE - A general view shows the crowd during the Easter Mass as part of the Holy Week celebrations, at St Peter's Square in the Vatican on March 31, 2024. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

Supporters of "gender theory" say that gender is more complex than male and female. They say a person's sex depends on more than sexual qualities that can be seen. In the document, the Vatican repeats its rejection of "gender theory," or the idea that a person's gender can be changed.

It says God created man and woman as biologically different, separate beings, and said people must not change that plan or try to "make oneself God."

"It follows that any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception," the document says.

It notes the difference between gender-changing surgeries, which it rejects, and medical operations to correct "genital abnormalities" that are present at birth or that develop later. It says, "Such a medical procedure would not constitute a sex change..."

Supporters for LGBTQ+ Catholics criticized the document as outdated and harmful. They warned it could lead to violence and discrimination against transgendered people.

In the United States, Republican-led legislatures are considering bills to restrict sex change operations on children.

Francis DeBernardo is with the New Ways Ministry, which supports LGBTQ+ Catholics. He said as the document talks about respect, honor and love for human life, "it does not apply this principle to gender-diverse people."


The Vatican also declared opposition to surrogacy, the practice of implanting a fertilized egg in a woman to carry a fetus for someone else usually for money.

The document calls the practice "deplorable," saying it violates "the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother's material needs."

It quotes Pope Francis as saying, "A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract. Consequently, I express my hope for an effort by the international community to prohibit this practice universally."

The document restates the well-known Catholic position in opposing to abortion, a medical operation to end a pregnancy, and assisted suicide or euthanasia.

Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez said in a statement that Pope Francis approved the document after requesting that it also include "poverty, the situation of migrants, violence against women, human trafficking, war, and other themes."

I'm Mario Ritter, Jr

Hai Do adapted this report for VOA Learning English from Associated Press, Reuters and Vatican sources.


Words in This Story

surrogacy –n. when a woman is implanted with a fertilized egg so she can have a baby for a couple usually in exchange for money

dignity –n. the condition of being valued or considered worthy

gender –n. the state of being either man or woman

surgery –n. a medical operation

principle –n. an important belief

exploitation –n. using people for a purpose that is not in their interest

commercial –adj. related to business and making a profit

prohibit –v. to ban