New Vatican Instruction on Bioethics: "'Dignitas Personae"

December 12, 2008 09:00 AM

American Life League is grateful to the Vatic an Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for today’s release of its new document, Instruction Dignitas Personae on Certain Bioethical Questions. While we are concerned that the document does not clarify the word “conception” immediately after the first time it is used, upon reading further, we do appreciate the fact that the Vatican has made it clear that “conception,” as used in this document, refers to all human beings irrespective of the method of reproduction employed. The clarification is evident in the document’s language, though not explicitly stated at the outset. For example, in Section 5, the document states,

Indeed, the reality of the human being for the entire span of life, both before and after birth, does not allow us to posit either a change in nature or a gradation in moral value, since it possesses full anthropological and ethical status (emphasis added). The human embryo has, therefore, from the very beginning, the dignity proper to a person.

On the subject of embryo adoption, with reference to those thousands upon thousands of human embryonic children who are currently living in a frozen state, the Vatican has set forth an honest answer to this most tragic situation. In Section 19, the document states,

All things considered, it needs to be recognized that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved (emphasis added). Therefore John Paul II made an “appeal to the conscience of the world’s scientific authorities and in particular to doctors, that the production of human embryos be halted, taking into account that there seems to be no morally licit solution regarding the human destiny of the thousands and thousands of ‘frozen’ embryos which are and remain the subjects of essential rights and should therefore be protected by law as human persons.”

While it is heartbreaking to realize the truth of this statement, it is yet another reason why American Life League will work with diligence to assure personhood for these and all innocent human beings.

We would be remiss if we did not quote from the document yet again, to remind our fellow Americans that the entire practice of embryo reduction, based on “quality control” notions, is indeed a heinous crime and a violation of the rights due to each innocent embryonic child. In Section 21, the document states,

From the ethical point of view, embryo reduction is an intentional selective abortion (emphasis added). It is in fact the deliberate and direct elimination of one or more innocent human beings in the initial phase of their existence and as such it always constitutes a grave moral disorder.

We are grateful as well that the Vatican has drawn attention to the “interceptive” and “contragestative” actions of many so-called contraceptive chemicals and devices, making it crystal clear that “the use of means of interception and contragestation fall within the sin of abortion and are gravely immoral” (emphasis added).

The document Dignitas Personae is a welcome statement that clarifies, in nearly all cases, the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding the human person, his identity, his value and his integrity.

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