Tucho Fernandez Strikes Again

“Every human person possesses an infinite dignity, inalienably grounded in his or her very being, which prevails in and beyond every circumstance, state, or situation the person may ever encounter” — Declaration of Human Dignity, Vatican Dicastery For the Doctrine of the Faith, April 8, 2024.

“By sin, man loses a twofold dignity, one in respect of God, the other in respect of the Church. In respect of God, he again loses a twofold dignity. one is his principal dignity, whereby he was counted among the children of God, and this he recovers by Penance, which is signified (Luke 15) in the prodigal son, for when he repented, his father commanded that the first garment should be restored to him, together with a ring and shoes. The other is his secondary dignity, viz. innocence, of which, as we read in the same chapter, the elder son boasted saying (Luke 15:29): “Behold, for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandments”: and this dignity the penitent cannot recover” (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, Q.89, A3).

In his introduction to Fiducia Supplicans, the document released last December by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Tucho Cardinal Fernandez wrote that, “Since ‘the Roman Curia is primarily an instrument at the service of the Successor of Peter,’ our work must foster, along with an understanding of the Church’s perennial doctrine, the reception of the Holy Father’s teaching.”

Phil Lawler reports that last Monday, in his presentation of the new Declaration of Human Dignity, “Fernández read from the Code of Canon Law (n. 751), noting that the faithful are obliged to give ‘religious submission of the intellect and the will’ to statements of the Magisterium.”

Tucho is intent on proclaiming that every word that comes from his Dicastery is magisterial.

So, while the Declaration pretends to develop the “ontological” character of “dignity,” its core mission is to suspend Aristotle’s Law of Non-Contradiction. Only God’s dignity is infinite, but actually, so is ours — Everyman’s dignity is infinite.

Admittedly the logic is a bit sketchy, and the phrasing a bit awkward, but the message comes through nonetheless: We must give “religious submission of the intellect and will” to magisterial “truths” that clearly contradict one another.

Tucho’s statement last Monday sheds more light on an issue that arose some six years ago, when Pope Francis addressed “dignity” in a different context. “The death penalty is “inadmissible, because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” he wrote in 2018.

To be sure, Francis was contradicting two millennia of the Church’s Magisterial teaching, but he didn’t seem to mind. And the Dicastery’s statement last Monday can now be used as proof that “infinite dignity” can now trump that teaching.

And given Tucho’s invocation of Canon Law on Monday, the condemnation of the death penalty is now on the same magisterial level as the Incarnation.

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