Church Teachings and the "Delayed Personhood" Ruse

ANTHROPOLOGY

** [Encyclical Letter: Evangelium vitae, 82 (Mar. 1995), http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae_en.html

... Teachers, catechists and theologians have the task of emphasizing the anthropological reasons upon which respect for every human life is based.

** [Encyclical Letter: Evangelium vitae, 19 (Mar. 1995), http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae_en.html

... We must also mention the mentality which tends to equate personal dignity with the capacity for verbal and explicit, or at least perceptible, communication. It is clear that on the basis of these presuppositions there is no place in the world for anyone who, like the unborn or the dying, is a weak element in the social structure, or for anyone who appears completely at the mercy of others and radically dependent on them, and can only communicate through the silent language of a profound sharing of affection."

** [Encyclical Letter: Evangelium vitae, 23 (Mar. 1995), http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae_en.html

... The criterion of personal dignity -- which demands respect, generosity and service -- is replaced by the criterion of efficiency, functionality and usefulness: others are considered not for what they 'are', but for what they 'have, do and produce.' This is the supremacy of the strong over the weak.

** [CDF, Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation - Donum vitae, Intro., 4 (Feb. 1987), http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19870222_respect-for-human-life_en.html

... The inviolability of the innocent human being's right to life 'from the moment of conception until death' is a sign and requirement of the very inviolability of the person to whom the Creator has given the gift of life.

** [CDF, Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation - Donum vitae , Intro., 5 (Feb. 1987), http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19870222_respect-for-human-life_en.html

... From the moment of conception, the life of every human being is to be respected in an absolute way because man is the only creature on earth that God has 'wished for himself' and the spiritual soul of each man is 'immediately created' by God; ... : no one can, in any circumstance, claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.

** [CDF, Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation - Donum vitae, I.1 (Feb. 1987), http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19870222_respect-for-human-life_en.html

... The human being must be respected -- as a person -- from the very first instant of his existence. ... 'From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already. ... To this perpetual evidence, perfectly independent of the discussions on the moment of animation, modern genetic science brings valuable confirmation. It has demonstrated that, from the first instant, the program is fixed as to what this living being will be: a man, this individual man with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization is begun the adventure of a human life, and each of its great capacities requires time ... to find its place and to be in a position to act.' (Declaration on Procured Abortion). This teaching remains valid and is further confirmed, if confirmation were needed, by recent findings of human biological science which recognize that in the zygote resulting from fertilization the biological identity of a new human individual is already constituted.

Certainly no experimental datum can be in itself sufficient to bring us to the recognition of a spiritual soul; nevertheless, the conclusions of science regarding the human embryo provide a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of this first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person?

The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life. ... [S]ince the embryo must be treated as a person, it must also be defended in its integrity, tended and cared for to the extent possible, in the same way as any other human being as far as medical assistance is concerned.

HUMAN CLONING:

**[-- Vatican's Mission to the United Nations, Speech by Archbishop Migliore to the 58th U.N. General Assembly on the International Convention Against Human Cloning (Oct. 27, 2003), http://www.vatican.va/news_services/bulletin/news/13907.php?index=13907&lang=en

... Mr. Chairman, the science may be complex, but the issue for us is simple and straightforward. The matter of human cloning that involves the creation of human embryos is the story of the beginning of human life - a life that is not just a local issue, not a national issue, not a regional issue. It is above all a universal issue, because an embryo is a human being regardless of its geography. If reproductive cloning of human beings contravenes the law of nature-a principle with which all delegations appear to agree-so does the cloning of the same human embryo that is slated for research purposes. A cloned embryo, which is not destined for implantation into a womb but is created for the sole purpose of extraction of stem cells and other materials, is destined for pre-programmed destruction.

Some would argue, Mr. Chairman, that whilst we must act quickly to ban human reproductive cloning, we must take more time to study all aspects of research cloning - a procedure that intentionally destroys human life. How many human lives are we willing to take in this process? Since the process is unnecessary and would require more than one embryo per patient treated, hundreds of millions of cloned human embryos would be required to treat even one disease, such as diabetes, in any developed nation.

In closing, my delegation wants to remind this distinguished assembly that one of the fundamental missions of the United Nations is to uphold the rights of all human beings. If the United Nations were to ban reproductive cloning without banning cloning for research, this would, for the first time, involve this body in legitimizing something extraordinary: the creation of human beings for the express purpose of destroying them. If human rights are to mean anything, at any time, anywhere in the world, then surely no one can have the right to do such a thing. Human rights flow from the recognition that human beings have an intrinsic dignity that is based on the fact that they are human. Human embryos are human, even if they are cloned. If the rest of us are to have the rights that flow from the recognition of this dignity, then we must act to ban cloning in all its forms.

**[Vatican's Mission to the United Nations, "The Views of the Holy See on Human Cloning", February 2003, at: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/doc/doc_11humancloning.html

... Every process involving human cloning is in itself a reproductive process in that it generates a human being at the very beginning of his or her development, i.e., a human embryo. The Holy See regards the distinction between "reproductive" and "therapeutic" (or "experimental") cloning as unacceptable by principle since it is devoid of any ethical and legal ground. This false distinction masks the reality of the creation of a human being for the purpose of destroying him or her to produce embryonic stem cell lines or to conduct other experimentation. Therefore, human cloning should be prohibited in all cases regardless of the aims that are pursued. ... The Holy See firmly supports a world–wide and comprehensive ban on human cloning, no matter what techniques are used and what aims are pursued. ... Based on the biological and anthropological status of the human embryo and on the fundamental moral and civil rule that it is illicit to kill an innocent even to bring about a good for society, the Holy See regards the conceptual distinction between "reproductive" and "therapeutic" (or "experimental") human cloning as devoid of any ethical and legal ground. ... A second objective of human cloning is to generate embryonic stem cells for tissue engineering and transplantation or use in cell therapy. Once the human embryo is cloned, its further development is arrested before implantation (usually at the blastocyst stage) thereby destroying the further development of the embryo. The proposed name of this sort of human cloning, i.e. "therapeutic cloning", is misleading in that it confounds the purpose of the action with the very nature of the process at stake. Indeed, to produce embryonic stem cells a living human embryo has been deliberately created and destroyed. ... The generation, in an asexual artificial way, of one or more biological individuals belonging to sexually-reproducing species (plants, animals, and humans). As animals and humans are concerned, this can be done either by disaggregating or subdividing an embryo ("embryo splitting") in its early stages of development or through the transfer of a diploid nucleus of a cell from an embryo, a fetus or an adult individual to a denucleated oocyte. In the latter case, if successful, after activation the reconstructed oocyte will develop into an embryo that is capable of further development to term. Regardless of its destiny, a cloned embryo is a cloned individual of a given species at the beginning of its life. ... Human cloning is the scientific technique by which a human being is generated. The early but unavoidable result of both embryo splitting and nuclear transfer cloning is the reproduction of a human being at its embryonic stage of development. Thus, human cloning and human embryo cloning coincide, and they are identical with one another. ...

Human Cloning — Regardless of Its Objectives — Is Contrary to the Dignity of Human Beings and Their Right to Life. Even if cloning is pursued with the aim of making a human baby that will mature into adulthood so that there is no destruction of the human embryo, this activity is still an affront to the dignity of the human person. As a form of unnatural asexual reproduction, it represents a radical manipulation of the constitutive relationship and complementarity that are at the origin of human procreation as a biological act and an exercise of human love. Cloning objectifies human sexuality and commodifies the bodies of women. Moreover, women are deprived of their innate dignity by becoming suppliers of eggs and wombs. The dignity of the person cloned is similarly threatened because other persons and technological powers exercise undisputed dominion over the duration of this person's life or his or her unique identity. Reproductive cloning threatens biological individuality and imposes the genetic makeup of an already–existing person on the cloned person. In turn, the cloned person is commandeered by another's external and internal profile thereby constituting a violent attack on the clone«s personal integrity. ... Cloning accomplished for biomedical research ("nucleus reprogramming") or producing stem cells ("therapeutic cloning") contributes to assaults against the dignity and integrity of the human person just addressed in the context of reproductive cloning. Cloning a human embryo, while intentionally planning its demise, would institutionalize the deliberate, systemic destruction of nascent human life in the name of unknown "good" of potential therapy or scientific discovery. This prospect is repugnant to most people including those who rightly advocate for advancement in science and medicine. Indeed, nucleus transfer cloning is by no means the only or superior way to tissue transplantation and cell therapy. The use of multipotent autologous stem cells of post–natal origin together with transdifferentiation approaches to tissue regeneration is a very promising alternative to prevent immune rejection in patients who have received transplants. In addition, the use of "wild–type" and! transgenic animals is another way to disclose cell biology's genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. Medical experimentation on human subjects, as pointed out below, is a crime under international law. This prospect is morally and ethically repugnant even to those who generally favor scientific research. There currently exist alternative methods of scientific cell research that accomplish the same potential objectives without the need to clone a human embryo that will inevitably be faced with destruction. To create life with the planned intention of destroying it violates the basic norms of moral, ethical, and legal considerations designed to protect the individuality and integrity of each human being.

** [Pontifical Academy For Life, Notes on Cloning (Sept. 1998), at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdlife/documents/rc_pa_acdlife_doc_28091998_cloning-notes_en.html

... It should be noted however that, should the extension of cloning to the human species be desired, this duplication of body structure does not necessarily imply a perfectly identical person, understood in his ontological and psychological reality. The spiritual soul, which is the essential constituent of every subject belonging to the human species and is created directly by God, cannot be generated by the parents, produced by artificial fertilization or cloned. Furthermore, psychological development, culture and environment always lead to different personalities; this is a well-known fact even among twins, whose resemblance does not mean identity. The popular image or aura of omnipotence that accompanies cloning should at least be put into perspective. ... Despite this impossibility of involving the spirit, which is the source of personality ...

In relation to the dignity of the human person, however, any type of cloning is to be considered illicit which implies the creation or splitting of embryos, no matter what techniques are used or what aims are pursued because it is not licit to do evil even to bring about good.

** [Pontifical Academy for Life, Observations on the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights [UNESCO], Paris, 11 November 1997, at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdlife/documents/rc_pa_acdlife_doc_08111998_genoma_en.html

... Article 11 declares that cloning with a view to the reproduction of human beings is a practice contrary to human dignity and should not be allowed. Regrettably, this formulation does not exclude human cloning, equally unacceptable, for other purposes, e.g. research or therapy.

HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH:

** [Encyclical Letter: Evangelium vitae,14 (Mar. 1995),http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae_en.html>]

... Furthermore, the number of embryos produced is often greater than that needed for implantation in the woman's womb, and these so-called 'spare embryos' are then destroyed or used for research which, under the pretext of scientific or medical progress, in fact reduces human life to the level of simple 'biological material' to be freely disposed of. ... Prenatal diagnosis ... all too often becomes an opportunity for proposing and procuring an abortion. This is eugenic abortion, justified in public opinion on the basis of a mentality ... which accepts life only under certain conditions and rejects it when it is affected by any limitation, handicap or illness." "... Furthermore, what is at stake is so important that, from the standpoint of moral obligation, the mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo.

** [Encyclical Letter: Evangelium vitae, 63 (Mar. 1995), http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae_en.html

... This evaluation of the morality of abortion is to be applied also to the recent forms of intervention on human embryos which, although carried out for purposes legitimate in themselves, inevitably involve the killing of those embryos. This is the case with experimentation on embryos, which is becoming increasingly widespread in the field of biomedical research and is legally permitted in some countries. Although 'one must uphold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but rather are directed to its healing, the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival,' it must nonetheless be stated that the use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings who have a right to the same respect owed to a child once born, just as to every person.

** [Declaration on the Production and the Scientific and Therapeutic Use of Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Pontifical Academy for Life, Vatican, August 25, 2000, at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdlife/documents/rc_pa_acdlife_doc_20000824_cellule-staminali_en.html

... The first ethical problem, which is fundamental, can be formulated thus: Is it morally licit to produce and/or use living human embryos for the preparation of ES cells?

The answer is negative, for the following reasons:

1. On the basis of a complete biological analysis, the living human embryo is -- from the moment of the union of the gametes -- a human subject with a well defined identity, which from that point begins its own coordinated, continuous and gradual development, such that at no later stage can it be considered as a simple mass of cells.

2. From this it follows that as a "human individual" it has the right to its own life; and therefore every intervention which is not in favour of the embryo is an act which violates that right. Moral theology has always taught that in the case of "jus certum tertii" the system of probabilism does not apply.

3. Therefore, the ablation of the inner cell mass (ICM) of the blastocyst, which critically and irremediably damages the human embryo, curtailing its development, is a gravely immoral act and consequently is gravely illicit.

4. No end believed to be good, such as the use of stem cells for the preparation of other differentiated cells to be used in what look to be promising therapeutic procedures, can justify an intervention of this kind. A good end does not make right an action which in itself is wrong.

5. For Catholics, this position is explicitly confirmed by the Magisterium of the Church which, in the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, with reference to the Instruction Donum Vitae of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, affirms:" The Church has always taught and continues to teach that the result of human procreation, from the first moment of its existence, must be guaranteed that unconditional respect which is morally due to the human being in his or her totality and unity in body and spirit: The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life'"(No. 60).

The second ethical problem can be formulated thus: Is it morally licit to engage in so-called "therapeutic cloning" by producing cloned human embryos and then destroying them in order to produce ES cells?

The answer is negative, for the following reason: /O:P Every type of therapeutic cloning, which implies producing human embryos and then destroying them in order to obtain stem cells, is illicit; for there is present the ethical problem examined above, which can only be answered in the negative.

The third ethical problem can be formulated thus: Is it morally licit to use ES cells, and the differentiated cells obtained from them, which are supplied by other researchers or are commercially obtainable?

The answer is negative, since: prescinding from the participation -- formal or otherwise -- in the morally illicit intention of the principal agent, the case in question entails a proximate material cooperation in the production and manipulation of human embryos on the part of those producing or supplying them.

In conclusion, it is not hard to see the seriousness and gravity of the ethical problem posed by the desire to extend to the field of human research the production and/or use of human embryos, even from an humanitarian perspective. The possibility, now confirmed, of using adult stem cells to attain the same goals as would be sought with embryonic stem cells -- even if many further steps in both areas are necessary before clear and conclusive results are obtained -- indicates that adult stem cells represent a more reasonable and human method for making correct and sound progress in this new field of research and in the therapeutic applications which it promises. These applications are undoubtedly a source of great hope for a significant number of suffering people.

** [Catholic Religious and Ethical Directives (CRED), at: http://www.usccb.org/bishops/directives.htm

... Note 43 is from Donum Vitae and states: "4. How Is One to Evaluate Morally Research and Experimentation* on Human Embryos and Fetuses? Medical research must refrain from operations on live embryos, unless there is a moral certainty of not causing harm to the life or integrity of the unborn child and the mother, and on condition that the parents have given their free and informed consent to the procedure. It follows that all research, even when limited to the simple observation of the embryo, would become illicit were it to involve risk to the embryo's physical integrity or life by reason of the methods used or the effects induced.

If the embryos are living, whether viable or not, they must be respected just like any other human person: experimentation on embryos which is not directly therapeutic is illicit. [29]

No objective, even though noble in itself, such as a foreseeable advantage to science, to other human beings or to society, can in any way justify experimentation on living human embryos or fetuses, whether viable or not, either inside or outside the mother's womb.

To use human embryos or fetuses as the object or instrument of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings having a right to the same respect that is due to the child already born and to every human person."

** [Charter of the Rights of the Family, 30 (Oct. 1983), at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_19831022_family-rights_en.html

... Respect for the dignity of the human being excludes all experimental manipulation or exploitation of the human embryo. ... The practice of keeping alive human embryos in vivo or in vitro for experimental or commercial purposes is totally opposed to human dignity.

THE EMBRYO AS PATIENT

** [Manifesto of Doctors and Surgeons of Rome, "The Embryo As Patient", in "'Embryo as Patient' Hailed by Conference", Rome, Feb. 4, 2002 (Zenit.org)]

... In the past, "scientific research only treated the woman as a patient; at present medical practice recognizes the embryo's own identity," ... To care for the embryo inspired by the same ethical-deontological principles proper to any other health intervention, thus guaranteeing the very dignity owed to every patient and the human conditions to grow and develop. ... To relaunch the teaching of embryology in the university curriculum of medical and health personnel, as a moment of particular formative importance.

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