This morning, Pope Benedict XVI asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to focus on "the difficult and complex problems of bioethics." More specifically, the Pontiff drew the teaching body of the Church’s attention toward issues associated with reproductive technologies, explaining that some of them violate human dignity.
Pope Benedict carefully explained the role that the CDF should pursue, giving them some limits. The "Church's Magisterium certainly cannot and should not intervene on every scientific innovation. Rather, it has the task of reiterating the great values at stake, and providing the faithful, and all men and women of good will, with ethical-moral principals and guidelines for these new and important questions,” he said.
As people grapple with the moral questions that arise from the advances in the bio-medical field, the Holy Father offered two “fundamental criteria for moral discernment.” The criteria are: “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".
Among the "new problems" that require a re-evaluation are "the freezing of human embryos, embryonal reduction, pre-implantation diagnosis, stem cell research and attempts at human cloning," Benedict XVI said.
All these, he said, "clearly show how, with artificial insemination outside the body, the barrier protecting human dignity has been broken. 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".
Pope Benedict also wanted people realize that contrary to what some say, "the Church appreciates and encourages progress in the biomedical sciences, which opens up previously unimagined therapeutic possibilities".
Explaining why the Church speaks out about these modern concerns, he said that "she feels the need to enlighten everyone's consciences so that scientific progress may be truly respectful of all human beings, who must be recognized as having individual dignity because they have been created in the image of God".