Levada confirms CDF working on bioethics document
"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."
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.
The Pope defended the Church against critics who treat the faith "as if it were an obstacle to science." In fact, he said, "the Church appreciates and encourages progress in the biomedical sciences." The pastoral task for the Church, he explained, is to "enlighten everyone's consciences so that scientific progress may be truly respectful of all human beings."John Allen reports that this document will essentially be a follow-up to Donum Vitae (1987).
Allen also notes that the document may resolve a long-standing debate in bioethics:
Levada’s reference to frozen embryos suggests that the congregation may take up the controversial question of so-called “embryo adoption,” which has been much debated in pro-life circles in recent years. Essentially, one side believes that even though these embryos should never have been created, now that they exist, women should be encouraged to bring them to term, allowing them to develop as human beings. Another party, however, regards that as cooperation in a fundamentally immoral act, and worries that promoting adoption may simply encourage artificial creation of embryos.
The full text of the Holy Father's speech is available here on the Vatican website, in Italian.