Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dignity of the Human Embryo

ROME, OCT. 1, 2006 ( God loves every human embryo from the first moment of its existence, concluded the most recent videoconference organized by the Vatican Congregation for Clergy.

The Sept. 27 conference, held over the Internet, attracted some of the Church's leading theologians to discuss "Bioethics: The Human Genome and Stem Cells," including Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The discussion was opened and closed by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.

He presented the mystery and dignity of the human embryo with the words of Psalm 139:13-14: "You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew."

"These words on the transcendent nature of the human person and his very high dignity acquire a richness of particular significance when we enter the new horizons opened by biology, genetics and molecular medicine," said the Colombian cardinal.

"They are scientific horizons that open astonishing knowledge on man's biological life and delicate ethical questions for human freedom," he added.


In conclusion, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos said at the end of the discussion, "we have heard the reaffirmation of the inviolable character of the biological nature of every man, as he forms a constitutive part of the individual's personal identity in the course of the whole of his existence."

In the different addresses, he added, it was theologically argued that "genetic manipulation, when it is not therapeutic, that is, when it does not tend to the treatment of pathology of the genetic patrimony, must be radically condemned."

In that case, he clarified, "it pursues modifications in an arbitrary way, inducing to the formation of human individuals with different genetic patrimonies established according to one's discretion. Eugenics, the creation of a superior human race, is an aberrant application."

Based on the theologians' interventions which had just been heard, the cardinal underlined that "the project of human cloning represents a terrible deviation which a science without values has reached."

"To halt the project of human cloning is a moral imperative which must be translated into cultural, social and legislative terms," he affirmed.

The videoconference, part of a monthly series, brings together theologians from around the world.

The intervention of Cardinal Hoyos can be downloaded in Italian from