Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Catholic World News News Feature

New Vatican instruction on bioethics coming December 12 December 01, 2008

The Vatican has scheduled news conferences on consecutive days, December 11 and 12, to unveil a new teaching document on bioethics and the Pope's annual message for the World Day of Peace.

The document on bioethical questions, entitled Dignitas Personae, will be promulgated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The document is to address some of the controversial ethical issues in the field of biological research, such as embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, and artificial methods of reproduction.

Dignitas Personae will address the knotty moral issues that have arisen in the fast-developing field of biomedical research since 1987, when the same Congregation-- then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI-- issued its instruction Donum Vitae addressing similar bioethical questions.

The bioethics document will be introduced on December 12 at a press conference chaired by Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation, is not expected to attend the press session.) Also on hand to help explain the document will be Archbishop Salvatore (Rino) Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and Bishop Elio Sgreccia, the former president of the same Pontifical Academy.

On December 11, Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, will chair a press conference to unveil the text of Pope Benedict's message for the World Day of Peace, which bears the title, Combattere la poverta, costruire la pace (To fight poverty, build peace). Although it is formally delivered to the Vatican diplomatic corps on January 1, as the Church marks the World Day of Prayer for Peace, the annual papal message is traditionally released a few weeks earlier.