Vatican Sets Bioethics Code

December 13, 2008

Author: Laurie Goodstein and Elisabetta Povoledo

Source: The Detroit News/The New York Times

The Vatican issued its most authoritative and sweeping document on bioethical issues in more than 20 years on Friday, taking into account recent developments in biomedical technology and reinforcing the church's opposition to in vitro fertilization, human cloning, genetic testing on embryos before implantation, and embryonic stem cell research.

The Vatican says these techniques violate the principles that every human life -- even an embryo -- is sacred and that babies should be conceived only through intercourse by a married couple.

The 32-page instruction, titled "Dignitas Personae," or "The Dignity of the Person," was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's doctrinal office, and carries the approval and the authority of Pope Benedict XVI.

Under discussion for six years, it is a moral response to bioethical questions that have been raised in the 21 years since the congregation last issued instructions.