Dignitas Infinita Needed Some Familiaris Consortio

The expressed intent of the recent declaration of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith is to “illuminate different facets of human dignity that might be obscured in many people’s consciousness” (Dignitas Infinita, Presentation). To the extent that the Declaration—though not intended to be comprehensive—selects topics that are indeed heavily “obscured” today, it succeeds.

But it falls disappointingly short of illuminating them in an integral and wholistic way.

The main reason, I would argue, is that it fails to remind us—at least in a rudimentary way—of the very core of Catholic social teaching: the family. By “family,” I don’t mean the vaguely defined “human family” (cf. DI 14, 51, 62, 66), but rather “the original cell of social life” (CCC 2207) constituted by “a man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children” (CCC 2202). It is troubling that a document devoted to recalling “fundamental principles and theoretical premises, with the goal of offering important clarifications that can help avoid frequent confusion that surrounds the use of the term ‘dignity’” (DI, Presentation), fails to once reference the most eloquent magisterial pronouncement on the family in recent times, John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio (1981).

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