Fernández began the midday press conference with a lengthy defense of last December’s controversial document Fiducia Supplicans, which has become a source of division within the Church. He noted that the document had garnered more than “7 billion views on the internet,” suggesting that it was the Vatican’s most-viewed document. He then pointed to an Italian survey, unnamed and unpublished, where “75% of people” under age 35 support the document, which allows for the “spontaneous” (nonliturgical) blessing of same-sex couples as well as those in “irregular” situations.

Asked why he began by discussing Fiducia Supplicans, Fernández said that in “recent days I have received from many people from within and outside the Vatican who told me [the speech] cannot be done as if nothing had happened. And then I accepted what they told me to do there and I extended the speech with this.”

Dignitas Infinita (“Infinite Dignity”) has been in the works for the past five years but was significantly reworked following the input of “various experts” who met at a “consulta ristretta” held on Oct. 4, 2021. Pope Francis approved the document on March 25 and subsequently ordered its publication.

The document is unequivocal in its condemnation of abortion, noting that “the acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behavior, and even in law itself is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense.”

The document also addresses a range of new issues, including surrogacy, which “violates” the dignity of both the mother and the child, who “becomes a mere object,” as well as “gender theory,” which it describes as “extremely dangerous.”

On the question of gender theory it states: “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.”

With respect to sex change, the document notes: “It follows that any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception.”

Fernández reiterated this point during the press conference, noting that the document addresses the topic of sex change, reflecting on the importance of “accepting the truth as it is.” He noted the socially pervasive belief that man is “omnipotent” and “thinks that with his intelligence, and his will, he is capable of building everything as if there was nothing that came before him, as if there was no reality that was given to him.”

But on the question of sex change, he noted that while there is “a deeper issue” that is not “seen,” there are “pastoral consequences, the principle of welcoming everyone, which is clear in the words of Pope Francis, he always says it: everyone, everyone.”