Twisting the Truth in Dignitas Personae–Part IV

By Debi Vinnedge

Part 4 (continued from yesterday)

Note from author: Because it may be confusing to follow the quotes of the various writers when compared to the actual text of the Church documents, all citations from Church teaching are highlighted in red font.

Yet incredibly, May continues to think there are exceptions for researchers that failed to make it into previous Papal writings and contends that, “In all likelihood this kind of exception may simply not have occurred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in preparing the 1987 instruction Donum Vitae.”

Such a bold statement by a lay individual to assert his thinking as superior to that of the Magisterium is, to put it mildly, disappointing. What both May and Brugger fail to understand is that there are many scientists who have taken these important Church teachings to heart and are turning toward moral research, despite the hardships it might impose on their careers.

One such person is Dr. Theresa Deisher, a Catholic adult stem cell scientist who formed AVM Biotechnology as a direct response to the 2005 PAFL document in which they strongly stated:

Therefore, doctors and fathers of families have a duty to take recourse to alternative vaccines (if they exist), putting pressure on the political authorities and health systems so that other vaccines without moral problems become available. They should take recourse, if necessary, to the use of conscientious objection with regard to the use of vaccines produced by means of cell lines of aborted human foetal origin. Equally, they should oppose by all means (in writing, through the various associations, mass media, etc.) the vaccines which do not yet have morally acceptable alternatives, creating pressure so that alternative vaccines are prepared, which are not connected with the abortion of a human foetus, and requesting rigorous legal control of the pharmaceutical industry producers. (Page 7)

As a brilliant researcher with 23 patents to her name, Dr. Deisher knew without question what this meant for her career. She left the established commercial pharmaceutical enterprises to form the only pro-life biomedical research organization of its kind in the United States that is 100% faithful to the Magisterial teachings of the Church.

In a near prophetic move, the directors at AVM Biotech formed a non-profit division Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute (SCPI) in 2008, only months before the release of Dignitas Personae. They recently launched their TOPP program—Training Opportunities for Pro-Life Professionals—where they are providing hands-on experience for like-minded pro-life undergraduate and graduate scientists.

There are other companies and organizations that have been formed by pro-life scientists, businessmen and women also intending to respond to the Church's call by trying to distance themselves from research that exploits or profits from the destruction of innocent human beings. However, AVM Biotechnology stands out as the only of these companies who has openly pledged not to use morally illicit materials at any time, just as the Magisterium has instructed.

The Church has clearly laid down the law and “dropped the gauntlet.” And the fact is that many morally minded scientists, physicians and consumers are ready and willing to pick up that gauntlet in faithful obedience to Her doctrinal instruction. It is as clear to them as it is to this writer.

While the trend in biomedical research has moved toward using these immorally obtained cell lines as an industry standard, AVM Biotech professes, “We know there is a better way.” And they are backing that up with several exciting new developments that have the ability to completely transform the future of scientific research and potential vaccines.

Parents want to immunize their children and scientists want to be able to work within their professions without violating their consciences or what the Magisterium has taught them. However, the ability to reach that ideal is hampered when influential Catholic leaders either knowingly or unknowingly misconstrue those Church teachings. Not only does this result in unnecessary mental gymnastics of conscience, it has the potential to lead well-intentioned people into error.

As was noted in the introduction of Dignitas Personae (No.3): “The present Instruction is addressed to the Catholic faithful and to all who seek the truth.”

It is essential therefore that this truth is understood clearly, protected fiercely and embraced willingly by all Catholics as the Magisterium intended. 

Debi Vinnedge is the executive director of Children of God for Life, a non-profit, pro-life organization focused on the bioethic issues of human cloning, embryonic and fetal tissue research.  In addition she serves as a member of the Vaccine Advisory Board for Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute. Ms. Vinnedge is a nationally recognized author and speaker and has provided written testimony for Congressional hearings on embryonic stem cell research. She is considered the foremost authority on the use of aborted fetal cell lines in medical products and vaccines. Her organization’s Campaign for Ethical Vaccines has gained the backing of over 630,000 supporters nationwide including numerous medical professionals, pro-life organizations, religious and political groups. 

This article has been reprinted with the author’s permission and can be found at

Note: The entire text of Dignitas Personae can be found on the Vatican web site at: