The president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Msgr.
Elio Sgreccia, responded to statements by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini,
published Friday by the online Italian magazine “L’Espresso,” and said
the Catholic Church has not changed her position on fundamental issues
such as the right to life from conception to natural death.
In a conversation with the Catholic News Agency, the prelate preferred not to directly address the statements by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Archbishop emeritus of Milan, saying instead that “at the Vatican, we do not consider it necessary make a controversy out of something that does not merit it.”
Referring to an interview he gave on Saturday to the Italian daily “Corriere della Sera,” Msgr. Sgreccia said the “union of the feminine chromosome and the masculine chromosome contains in itself two pro-nuclei, and it is a fertilized ovum in which the process of fertilization has already begun.” This fusion of the nuclei in the cytoplasm of the ovum, he continued, is what results in creation of a new individual or individuals, in the case of twins.
“This beginning,” Msgr. Sgreccia pointed out, in contrast to statements by Cardinal Martini, is “precisely the beginning of an individual life and leads to an irreversible process towards successive development, containing already at that point a unique [genetic] patrimony.”
Msgr. Sgreccia also referred to artificial, or “in vitro,” fertilization, pointing out that “in artificial procreation-fertilization, the unitive dimension of the spouses, expressed through the gift of self in the conjugal act, is missing. This anthropological dimension has been considered essential for the legitimacy of the procreative act since the teachings of Pius XII on insemination and successively with Paul VI and John Paul II.”
Regarding the use of the condom, even in order to prevent the spread of AIDS, Msgr. Sgreccia said, “Let us remember that scientifically it does not offer complete protection,” and therefore “the most effective method of prevention is in the correct use of sexuality, which consists of chastity and fidelity.”