The Diabolic Deception of Dignitas Infinita

On April 8, 2024, Cardinal Víctor Manuel “Tucho” Fernández and his Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith released their Declaration on Human Dignity, Dignitas Infinita. Although Catholics celebrated the transferred Feast of the Annunciation on April 8th, we can draw a more apt comparison to Dignitas Infinita from the solar eclipse in America also taking place. Almost everyone witnessing the solar eclipse understood that the sun did not actually vanish even though it was temporarily blocked by the moon — but who will recall the Catholic teaching that has been eclipsed since Vatican II? Do we still recall enough about the actual Catholic teaching on human dignity to see the way in which Tucho’s Dignitas Infinita obscures it?

To properly assess Dignitas Inifnita, it is worthwhile to recall the battle that took place at Vatican II over the Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, upon which Tucho’s new declaration relies. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s July 8, 1987 letter to Cardinal Ratzinger identified the opposing sides of that battle and the consequences of the Liberal victory at the Council:

“It appears that we can conclude that the Liberal doctrine of Religious Liberty and the traditional doctrine are radically opposed. A choice had to be made between the draft of the schema of Cardinal Ottaviani and that of Cardinal Béa, on the same subject. At the last meeting of the Central Commission preparatory to the Council there was a heated opposition between these two Cardinals. Cardinal Béa then affirmed that his thesis was absolutely opposed to that of Cardinal Ottaviani. Nothing has changed since. The traditional magisterium is opposed to the Liberal thesis founded on a false conception of human dignity and on an erroneous definition of civil society. The problem is to know who is right—Cardinal Ottaviani or Cardinal Béa. The practical consequences of the Liberal thesis adopted by the Holy See after the Council are disastrous and anti Christian. It is the uncrowning of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with the reduction to an equal status before the law of all religions leading to an apostate ecumenism as that of Assisi.”

If many educated Catholics no longer have the ability to discern the way in which Tucho’s new declaration deviates from what the Church has always taught, we can trace the primary cause back to this forgotten battle between the sides represented by Cardinals Ottaviani (upholding Church teaching) and Bea (promoting a new vision, ostensibly motivated by ecumenical concerns). It is also timely for purposes of the ongoing debate on Christ the King to note that Archbishop Lefebvre linked the adoption of Bea’s Liberal thesis to “the uncrowning of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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