The Church "certainly cannot and should not intervene on every scientific innovation," the Holy Father told the CDF members, who are in Rome for a plenary meeting this week. However, he continued, the teaching magisterium has an obligation to provide the faithful with the "ethical-moral principals and guidelines for these new and important questions."
The Pope defended the Church against critics who treat the faith "as if it were an obstacle to science." In fact, he said, "the Church appreciates and encourages progress in the biomedical sciences." The pastoral task for the Church, he explained, is to "enlighten everyone's consciences so that scientific progress may be truly respectful of all human beings."
Pope Benedict said that the moral analysis of bioethical issues should be based upon two fundamental themes: "unconditional respect for the human being as a person, from conception to natural death; and respect for the origin of the transmission of human life through the acts of the spouses."
These general principles, the Pope continued, should be applied to new ethical challenges, including "the freezing of human embryos, embryonal reduction, pre-implantation diagnosis, stem-cell research and attempts at human cloning." Each one of these techniques, he said, entails serious moral problems, illustrating that "with artificial insemination outside the body, the barrier protecting human dignity has been broken."
The Holy Father drove home his point with a rhetorical question:
When human beings in the weakest and most defenseless stage of their existence are selected, abandoned, killed or used as pure biological matter, how can it be denied that they are no longer being treated as "someone" but as "something," thus placing the very concept of human dignity in doubt.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Church must speak out on bioethics, says Pope