The dignity of a person must be
recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This
fundamental principle expresses a great yes to human life and must be at the
center of ethical reflection on biomedical research.
the message of Dignitas Personae, a new document on biomedical research ethics
published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
It's an update of Donum Vitae, the congregation's
document on the same subject published in 1987. The Vatican says this document
is still relevant, but needed to be revised because of new developments in the
field of science during the last 21 years. Mons. Luis Francisco Ladaria
Secretary, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith On the one
hand, new technologies open doors for new potential treatments that were
previously unknown, such as infertility treatments and the use of adult stem
cells. On the other hand, these raise serious questions of an anthropological
and ethical nature.
The document acts as a guideline for Catholics in
and out of the field of science. It outlines the Vatican's opposition to research
using stem cells taken from living human embryos, the morning after pill, gene
therapy intended to affect a patients offspring, embryo manipulation, freezing
of human embryos or egg cells, and cloning.Mons. Rino
President, Pontifical Academy of LifeWhat this document
intends to do is express its own authoritative contribution to the formation of
the conscience of not only believers, but of so many who want to hear the
arguments of the Church and face them.
Theological and ethical
controversies over scientific research are not going away anytime soon. But the
goal of this document is to give doctrinal guidance to Catholic patients and
scientists on what procedures the church does and does not approve of, based on
ethical and moral criteria.Mons. Rino
President, Pontifical Academy of LifeArguments are not the
product of faith. Arguments are the product of reason. I want to repeat that the
document speaks more of ethics, especially when there are these arguments.
Because ethics is correctly the expression of reason, which during its search of
how to direct life, it does so under the light of reason.
Personae draws from a variety of sources, including its predecessor Donum Vitae,
John Paul II's 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, and the teachings of Benedict
XVI. It makes note of his address on stem cell research to the Pontifical
Academy of Life in 2006.
The document, which was published with Benedict
XVI's approval, calls on Catholics to courageously oppose injustices against the
dignity of human beings, including the unborn.