Speaking with the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on Friday, Pope Benedict expressed gratefulness for their work, particularly focusing on their efforts to apply Christians ethics to in vitro fertilization, cloning and gene therapy.
The Pope first highlighted the 2008 Instruction "Dignitas Personae," which dealt with the morality of in vitro fertilization, new forms of contraception, freezing embryos, cloning, the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos, genetic screening and gene therapy, among other biomedical processes.
“Dignitas Personae” represents "a new milestone in the announcement of the Gospel, in full continuity with the Instruction 'Donum vitae' published by the dicastery in 1987,” the Holy Father said.
“In such delicate and pressing questions ... the Magisterium of the Church seeks to offer its own contribution to the formation of consciences, not only the consciences of believers but of everyone who seeks the truth and is willing to listen to arguments that arise not only from the faith, but also from reason itself," he explained.
Reflecting on how Christianity makes its truthful contribution in the field of ethics and philosophy, Pope Benedict said that it does not offer “prefabricated solutions to real problems such as biomedical research and experimentation, but presents moral standpoints within which human reason can seek and find appropriate solutions.”
"There are, in fact, certain aspects of Christian revelation that throw light on the problems of bioethics. ... These aspects, inscribed in the heart of man, are also understandable in rational terms as elements of natural moral law, and may find acceptance even among people who do not recognize themselves in the Christian faith," he observed to the Congregation.
Noting that natural moral law is accessible to all people, the Holy Father said this applies to both “civil and secular society." "This law, inscribed in the heart of all human beings, touches an essential aspect of legal theory and appeals to legislators' consciences and sense of responsibility," he concluded.