Documents, Official
77 Documents at

These are official documents of the Roman Catholic Church that deal directly with the topics and issues discussed on These, in effect, provide the theological foundations of this site.


Letter to the Bishops regarding the new revision of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty

The new text, following the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in Evangelium vitae, affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes.

Date posted: 2022-11-09

Encyclical Letter "Fratelli Tutti" on Fraternity and Social Friendship

Fraternity and social friendship are the ways the Pontiff indicates to build a better, more just and peaceful world, with the contribution of all: people and institutions. With an emphatic confirmation of a ‘no’ to war and to globalized indifference.

Date posted: 2020-10-05

"Male and Female He Created Them"

It is becoming increasingly clear that we are now facing with what might accurately be called an educational crisis, especially in the field of affectivity and sexuality. In many places, curricula are being planned and implemented which "allegedly convey a neutral conception of the person and of life, yet in fact reflect an anthropology opposed to faith and to right reason". The disorientation regarding anthropology which is a widespread feature of our cultural landscape has undoubtedly helped to destabilize the family as an institution, bringing with it a tendency to cancel out the differences between men and women, presenting them instead as merely the product of historical and cultural conditioning.

Date posted: 2019-07-03

Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate of the Holy Father Francis on the Call to Holiness in Today's World

What follows is not meant to be a treatise on holiness, containing definitions and distinctions helpful for understanding this important subject, or a discussion of the various means of sanctification. My modest goal is to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities. For the Lord has chosen each one of us "to be holy and blameless before him in love" (Eph 1:4).

Date posted: 2018-04-16

Affirmation of the Church's Teaching on the Gift of Sexuality

We, the undersigned scholars, affirm that the Catholic Church's teachings on the gift of sexuality, on marriage, and on contraception are true and defensible on many grounds, among them the truths of reason and revelation concerning the dignity of the human person.

Date posted: 2016-09-20

Misericordia Vultus ((Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy))

We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.

Date posted: 2016-08-20

Laudato Si'

"Praise be to you, my Lord". In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.

Date posted: 2016-08-02

Amoris Laetitia (Love in the Family)

This Exhortation is especially timely in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. First, because it represents an invitation to Christian families to value the gifts of marriage and the family, and to persevere in a love strengthened by the virtues of generosity, commitment, fidelity and patience. Second, because it seeks to encourage everyone to be a sign of mercy and closeness wherever family life remains imperfect or lacks peace and joy.

Date posted: 2016-04-30

Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons

Since this question relates to the natural moral law, the arguments that follow are addressed not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society.

Date posted: 2015-11-19

Letter To The Bishops Of The Catholic Church On The Pastoral Care Of Homosexual Persons

The issue of homosexuality and the moral evaluation of homosexual acts have increasingly become a matter of public debate, even in Catholic circles. Since this debate often advances arguments and makes assertions inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church, it is quite rightly a cause for concern to all engaged in the pastoral ministry, and this Congregation has judged it to be of sufficiently grave and widespread importance to address to the Bishops of the Catholic Church this Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.

Date posted: 2015-07-14

Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan

In November 2009 the U.S. Catholic Bishops approved a pastoral letter called "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan." The letter presents the essential points of Catholic teaching on marriage as a natural gift, as a sacrament, and as a public commitment between a man and a woman. It also discusses several contemporary challenges to marriage and how the Church addresses those challenges.

Date posted: 2013-10-04

Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction

In the eyes of the Church, every human person is a unique and irreplaceable gift created by our loving God and called to be his son or daughter. Created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the blood of Christ, every person possesses an intrinsic dignity which must always be respected. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that persons with homosexual inclinations "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives."

Date posted: 2011-07-18

The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality

Among the many difficulties parents encounter today, despite different social contexts, one certainly stands out: giving children an adequate preparation for adult life, particularly with regard to education in the true meaning of sexuality. There are many reasons for this difficulty and not all of them are new.

Date posted: 2011-06-04

Bought With a Price

We stand at a threshold - either we can continue to allow this plague to spread with fewer and fewer checks, or we can take concrete steps to uproot it in our lives, our families, our neighborhoods and our culture. A free people can combat the tremendous moral, social and spiritual danger of pornography with great courage. My fervent prayer is that Catholics, other Christians, and all people of good will understand this threat, confront it, facilitate true healing, and ever more fully live out our God - given use of human sight.

Date posted: 2011-02-19

Pornography and Violence in the Communications Media: A Pastoral Response

Among the alarming developments of these years has been the widespread increase of pornography and wanton violence in the media. Books and magazines, recordings, the cinema, the theatre, television, videocassettes, advertising displays and even telecommunications frequently offer a representation of violent behaviour or of permissiveness in sexual activity that reaches the point of being openly pornographic and morally offensive.

Date posted: 2010-11-22

New Catechism and The Sixth Commandment: You shall not commit adultery.

Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.

Date posted: 2010-11-09

Pornography and Violence in the Communications Media: A Pastoral Response

This document is intended to address the widely expressed concerns of families and of the shepherds of the Church and to invite even more general reflection of an ethical and practical nature on the problem of pornography and violence in the communications media and to encourage all to follow the injunction of St. Paul: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom 12, 21).

Date posted: 2010-10-27

Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation

The present Instruction, which is the result of wide consultation and in particular of a careful evaluation of the declarations made by Episcopates, does not intend to repeat all the Church's teaching on the dignity of human life as it originates and on procreation, but to offer, in the light of the previous teaching of the Magisterium, some specific replies to the main questions being asked in this regard.

Date posted: 2010-09-05

Message for World Day of Peace 2010

Protecting the natural environment in order to build a world of peace is thus a duty incumbent upon each and all. It is an urgent challenge, one to be faced with renewed and concerted commitment; it is also a providential opportunity to hand down to coming generations the prospect of a better future for all. May this be clear to world leaders and to those at every level who are concerned for the future of humanity: the protection of creation and peacemaking are profoundly linked! For this reason, I invite all believers to raise a fervent prayer to God, the all-powerful Creator and the Father of mercies, so that all men and women may take to heart the urgent appeal: If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.

Date posted: 2010-02-06

Caritas In Veritate

Development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us. For this reason, even in the most difficult and complex times, besides recognizing what is happening, we must above all else turn to God's love. Development requires attention to the spiritual life, a serious consideration of the experiences of trust in God, spiritual fellowship in Christ, reliance upon God's providence and mercy, love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace. All this is essential if "hearts of stone" are to be transformed into "hearts of flesh" (Ezek 36:26), rendering life on earth "divine" and thus more worthy of humanity.

Date posted: 2009-07-15

Instruction "Dignitas Personae" on Certain Bioethical Questions

The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This fundamental principle expresses a great "yes" to human life and must be at the center of ethical reflection on biomedical research, which has an ever greater importance in today's world. In the current context, a considerable number of scientists and philosophers, in the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath, see in medical science a service to human fragility aimed at the cure of disease, the relief of suffering and the equitable extension of necessary care to all people. At the same time, however, there are also persons... who view advances in biomedical technology from an essentially eugenic perspective.

Date posted: 2008-12-14

On Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research has captured the imagination of many in our society. Stem cells are relatively unspecialized cells that, when they divide, can replicate themselves and also produce a variety of more specialized cells. Scientists hope these biological building blocks can be directed to produce many types of cells to repair the human body, cure disease, and alleviate suffering. Stem cells from adult tissues, umbilical cord blood, and placenta (often loosely called "adult stem cells") can be obtained without harm to the donor and without any ethical problem, and these have already demonstrated great medical promise. But some scientists are most intrigued by stem cells obtained by destroying an embryonic human being in the first week or so of development. Harvesting these "embryonic stem cells" involves the deliberate killing of innocent human beings, a gravely immoral act. Yet some try to justify it by appealing to a hoped-for future benefit to others.

Date posted: 2008-06-27

Letter to Families

No human society can run the risk of permissiveness in fundamental issues regarding the nature of marriage and the family! Such moral permissiveness cannot fail to damage the authentic requirements of peace and communion among people. It is thus quite understandable why the Church vigorously defends the identity of the family and encourages responsible individuals and institutions, especially political leaders and international organizations, not to yield to the temptation of a superficial and false modernity.

Date posted: 2007-12-03

Declaration on Divorce

The Code of Canon Law establishes that "Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion" (can. 915).

Date posted: 2007-09-09

The truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality

Among the many difficulties parents encounter today, despite different social contexts, one certainly stands out: giving children an adequate preparation for adult life, particularly with regard to education in the true meaning of sexuality. There are many reasons for this difficulty and not all of them are new.

Date posted: 2007-08-28

Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women

Taking up the themes I addressed in that document, I would now like to speak directly to every woman, to reflect with her on the problems and the prospects of what it means to be a woman in our time. In particular I wish to consider the essential issue of the dignity and rights of women, as seen in the light of the word of God.

Date posted: 2007-06-27

Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Celis Derived from Aborted Human Fetuses

The matter in question regards the lawfulness of production, distribution, and use of certain vaccines whose production is connected with acts of procured abortion. It concerns vaccines containing live viruses which have been prepared from human cell lines of fetal origin, using tissues from aborted human fetuses as a source of such cells. The best known, and perhaps the most important due to its vast distribution and its use on an almost universal level, is the vaccine against rubella (German measles).

Date posted: 2007-06-15

Address to the Directors of the Associations for Large Families of Rome and of Italy

You are well aware of the lively interest We have in family life, of how We never miss an opportunity to point out its many-sided dignity, to reassert its rights and defend them, to inculcate the duties it involves in a word, We make it a key point of Our pastoral teaching.

Date posted: 2005-11-03

Family, Marriage and "De Facto" Unions

In this document, after considering the social aspect of de facto unions, their constitutive elements, and their existential motivations, the problem is taken up of the juridical recognition and equivalency of de facto unions, first with regard to the family based on marriage, and then with regard to the whole of society. The document then deals with the family as a social value, the objective values to be fostered, and the duty in justice on the part of society to protect and promote the family rooted in marriage. Afterwards, some aspects raised in relation to Christian marriage are studied in depth. Some general criteria are also presented for pastoral discernment which are necessary to guide the Christian communities.

Date posted: 2005-10-04

Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared From Cells Derived From Aborted Human Foetuses

The matter in question regards the lawfulness of production, distribution and use of certain vaccines whose production is connected with acts of procured abortion. It concerns vaccines containing live viruses which have been prepared from human cell lines of foetal origin, using tissues from aborted human foetuses as a source of such cells.

Date posted: 2005-07-24

Bishops' text takes on Bioethical and Family issues

In its foreword, the document says that living in a society that enables us to flourish "requires the building of an ethos of life that protects persons from womb to tomb, especially the most vulnerable". Yet the document perceives, "signs of a Culture of Death" (in the world), in such factors as abortion, pressure for euthanasia, diminishing respect for the elderly and a lack of protection for marriage and the family.

Date posted: 2005-06-04

Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the world

The Church, expert in humanity, has a perennial interest in whatever concerns men and women. In recent times, much reflection has been given to the question of the dignity of women and to women's rights and duties in the different areas of civil society and the Church. Having contributed to a deeper understanding of this fundamental question, in particular through the teaching of John Paul II, the Church is called today to address certain currents of thought which are often at variance with the authentic advancement of women.

Date posted: 2005-05-25

Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities

We issue this Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities: A Campaign in Support of Life to put forth "a precise and vigorous reaffirmation of the value of human life and its inviolability, and at the same time a pressing appeal addressed to each and every person, in the name of God: respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life"(The Gospel of Life, no. 5).

Date posted: 2005-04-30

Considerations on the Issue of Human Cloning

The Holy See is convinced of the need to support and promote scientific research for the benefit of humanity. Thus, the Holy See earnestly encourages investigations that are being carried out in the fields of medicine and biology, with the goal of curing diseases and of improving the quality of life of all, provided that they are respectful of the dignity of the human being. This respect demands that any research that is inconsistent with the dignity of the human being is morally excluded.

Date posted: 2004-12-05

Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the 19th International Conference of the Pontifical Council For Health Pastoral Care

The Pope focused on the problem of suffering and the importance of alleviating pain, but made it quite clear that "all forms of euthanasia" must be avoided. When "proportionate and effective treatment is no longer possible", he noted, it is necessary "to avoid every kind of persistent or aggressive treatment" and instead have recourse to "methods of 'palliative care'".

Date posted: 2004-11-12

Aeterni Patris

Who so turns his attention to the bitter strifes of these days and seeks a reason for the troubles that vex public and private life must come to the conclusion that a fruitful cause of the evils which now afflict, as well as those which threaten, us lies in this: that false conclusions concerning divine and human things, which originated in the schools of philosophy, have now crept into all the orders of the State, and have been accepted by the common consent of the masses.

Date posted: 2004-06-27

International Congress on "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas"

Challenges for the field of health care. Scientific and ethical problems related to the vegetative state.

Date posted: 2004-05-16

Life-sustaining treatments and vegetative state: Scientific advances and ethical dilemmas

We must neither forget nor underestimate that there are well-documented cases of at least partial recovery even after many years; we can thus state that medical science, up until now, is still unable to predict with certainty who among patients in this condition will recover and who will not. ... Faced with patients in similar clinical conditions, there are some who cast doubt on the persistence of the "human quality" itself, almost as if the adjective "vegetative", which symbolically describes a clinical state, could or should be instead applied to the sick as such, actually demeaning their value and personal dignity. In opposition to such trends of thought, I feel the duty to reaffirm strongly that the intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being do not change, no matter what the concrete circumstances of his or her life. A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in the exercise of his highest functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a "vegetable" or an "animal".

Date posted: 2004-04-02

Morality and Eugenics

Speaking against sterilization, artificial insemination, and contraception, the pope gave advice to those afflicted with "Mediterranean hematological sickness." He suggested that physicians could advise patients not to marry (especially kin) or to adopt children rather than reproducing.

Date posted: 2004-02-09

Address to an International Congress of Anesthesiologists

This is a response to three questions submitted to the Holy Father by Dr. Bruno Haid, chief of the anesthesia section of the surgery clinic of the University of Innsbruck. The problems that arise in the modern practice of resuscitation were formulated in three questions. It was delivered during an audience granted delegates to an International Congress of Anesthesiologists, meeting at Rome's Mendel Institute.

Date posted: 2003-11-06

Moral Principles Concerning Infants With Anencephaly

Doubts about the anencephalic infant's human dignity "have no solid ground, and the benefit of any doubt must be in the child's favour. As a general rule, conditions of the human body, regardless of severity, in no way compromise human dignity or human rights".

Date posted: 2003-09-03

Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons

Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon... No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.

Date posted: 2003-08-15

Respect for the Dignity of the Dying

Since the 1970s, beginning in the most developed countries of the world, there has been a persistent campaign in favor of euthanasia, understood as an act or omission which by its nature and intention terminates the life of the seriously ill or also of malformed newborn babies. The motive usually advanced in these cases is to save the patient from undue, useless suffering.

Date posted: 2003-05-31

Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Service

Health care in the United States is marked by extraordinary change. Not only is there continuing change in clinical practice due to technological advances, but the health care system in the United States is being challenged by both institutional and social factors as well. At the same time, there are a number of developments within the Catholic Church affecting the ecclesial mission of health care. Among these are significant changes in religious orders and congregations, the increased involvement of lay men and women, a heightened awareness of the church's social role in the world and developments in moral theology since the Second Vatican Council. A contemporary understanding of the Catholic health care ministry must take into account the new challenges presented by transitions both in the church and in American society.

Date posted: 2003-05-20

The Ethics of Biomedical Research For a Christian Perspective

At the end of its Ninth General Assembly, the Pontifical Academy for Life issued the following concluding statement on the "Ethics of Biomedical Research For a Christian Vision." The council, held in the Vatican from February 24-26, 2003, highlighted general ethical features that biomedicine has to take into account if it is to serve the human person.

Date posted: 2003-03-30

Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life

The Roman Catholic Church insists that Catholic politicians "have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life". The document, which was approved by Pope John Paul II, observes that "a kind of cultural relativism exists today, evident in the conceptualisation and defence of an ethical pluralism", but affirms that Catholic legislators "cannot compromise" on a "correct understanding of the human person" and must "defend the basic right to life from conception to natural death". In so doing, they must also "recall the duty to respect and protect the rights of the embryo".

Date posted: 2003-01-18

The Catechism Pertinent to Organ Transplants

Organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.

Date posted: 2002-11-27

A Matter of the Heart

As we reflect on the thirtieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we express gratitude to those who have worked tirelessly for human life and against this ruling from the very beginning and continue to do so. They have lobbied, counseled and prayed. Many have suffered for their pro-life convictions. At the same time, what is perhaps most striking on this anniversary is how many young people have taken up the cause for life, and how impassioned is their support.

Date posted: 2002-11-19

Holy See Supports World-Wide Ban on Human Embryonic Cloning for Reproductive, Scientific Purposes

Archbishop Martino repeated the position of the Holy See: "The Holy See supports and urges a world-wide and comprehensive ban on human embryonic cloning for both reproductive and scientific purposes. Human embryonic cloning, even when done in the name of bettering humanity, is still an affront to the dignity of the human person. Embryonic cloning objectifies human sexuality and commodifies human life".

Date posted: 2002-10-15

Prospects for Xenotransplantation

Transplantation represents a highly successful means of treating a variety of human illnesses. However, the number of transplants performed is limited by a shortage of human organs and tissues. Xenotransplantation, the transplantation of organs, tissues or cells from one species to another, if applied to man, would offer the possibility of a huge supply of organs, tissues and cells for transplantation thereby relieving the "chronic" shortage of human donors. However, before xenotransplantation becomes a clinical reality, there are practical challenges that must be overcome.

Date posted: 2002-09-17

The Christian Response to Suffering

Our sufferings become meaningful and precious when united with His. As God and man, Christ has taken upon Himself the sufferings of humanity, and in Him human suffering itself takes on a redemptive meaning. In this union between the human and the divine, suffering brings forth good and overcomes evil.

Date posted: 2002-09-05

Declaration on Procured Abortion

The problem of procured abortion and of its possible legal liberalization has become more or less everywhere the subject of impassioned discussions. These debates would be less grave were it not a question of human life, a primordial value, which must be protected and promoted. Everyone understands this, although many look for reasons, even against all evidence, to promote the use of abortion. ... The Church is too conscious of the fact that it belongs to her vocation to defend man against everything that could disintegrate or lessen his dignity to remain silent on such a topic.

Date posted: 2002-08-31

Persona Humana

In the present period, the corruption of morals has increased, and one of the most serious indications of this corruption is the unbridled exaltation of sex. …there are those who have put forward concepts and modes of behavior which are contrary to the true moral exigencies of the human person…in the course of a few years, teachings, moral criteria and modes of living hitherto faithfully preserved have been very much unsettled, even among Christians. There are many people today who, being confronted with widespread opinions opposed to the teaching which they received from the Church, have come to wonder what must still hold as true.

Date posted: 2002-06-25

Always Our Children

The purpose of this pastoral message is to reach out to parents who are trying to cope with the discovery of homosexuality in a child, who is an adolescent or an adult. It urges families to draw upon the reservoirs of faith, hope, and love as they face uncharted futures. It asks them to recognize that the Church offers enormous spiritual resources to strengthen and support them at this moment in their family life and in the days to come.

Date posted: 2002-05-15

Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons

The issue of homosexuality and the moral evaluation of homosexual acts have increasingly become a matter of public debate, even in Catholic circles. Since this debate often advances arguments and makes assertions inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church, it is quite rightly a cause for concern to all engaged in the pastoral ministry, and this Congregation has judged it to be of sufficiently grave and widespread importance to address to the Bishops of the Catholic Church this Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.

Date posted: 2002-05-12

Non-negotiable Right To Life

Among the fundamental rights of man, the Catholic Church claims for every human being the right to life as the "primary right". She does it in the name of the truth about man and to protect his freedom, that cannot be sustained without respect for the right to life. The Church affirms the right to life of every innocent human being and at every moment of his existence.

Date posted: 2002-04-29

Holy Father's Address to International Congress of Catholic Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Until quite recently, medical ethics in general and Catholic morality were rarely in disagreement. Without problems of conscience, Catholic doctors could generally offer patients all that medical science afforded. But this has now changed profoundly. The availability of contraceptive and abortive drugs, new threats to life in the laws of some countries, some of the uses of prenatal diagnosis, the spread of in-vitro fertilization techniques, the consequent production of embryos to deal with sterility, but also their destination to scientific research, the use of embryonic stem cells for the development of tissue for transplants to cure degenerative diseases, and projects of full or partial cloning, already done with animals: all of these have changed the situation radically. Moreover, conception, pregnancy and childbirth are no longer understood as ways of cooperating with the Creator in the marvelous task of giving life to a new human being. Instead they are often perceived as a burden and even as an ailment to be cured, rather than being seen as a gift from God.

Date posted: 2002-03-17

The Views of the Holy See on Human Cloning

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. Its position is based on (1) biological analysis of the cloning process and (2) anthropological, social, ethical and legal reflection on the negative implications that human cloning has on the life, the dignity, and the rights of the human being.

Date posted: 2002-03-07

Declaration on Euthanasia

The rights and values pertaining to the human person occupy an important place among the questions discussed today. In this regard, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council solemnly reaffirmed the lofty dignity of the human person, and in a special way his or her right to life. The Council therefore condemned crimes against life "such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or willful suicide" (Pastoral Constitution "Gaudium et spes," no. 27).

Date posted: 2002-03-06

Catechism of the Catholic Church on Assisted-Suicide

Excerpts from paragraphs 2276-2279 on Euthanasia and paragraphs 2280-2283 on Suicide

Date posted: 2002-03-05

Statement on Euthanasia

Current efforts to legalize euthanasia place our society at a critical juncture. These efforts have received growing public attention due to new publications giving advice on methods of suicide and some highly publicized instances in which family members or physicians killed terminally ill persons or helped them kill themselves. Proposals such as those in the Pacific Northwest, spearheaded by the Hemlock Society, aim to change state laws against homicide and assisted suicide to allow physicians to provide drug overdoses or lethal injections to their terminally ill patients.

Date posted: 2002-03-04

Catholic Statements on the Death Penalty

Presented are passages dealing with the death penalty found in the encyclical EVANGELIUM VITAE and the Catechism.

Date posted: 2002-03-02

Statement on the So–Called "Morning–After Pill"

Considering that the use of this product concerns fundamental human goods and values, to the point of involving the origins of human life itself, the Pontifical Academy for Life feels the pressing duty and definite need to offer some clarifications and considerations on the subject, reaffirming moreover already well–known ethical positions supported by precise scientific data and reinforced by Catholic doctrine.

Date posted: 2002-03-01

Notes on cloning

Introduction to fundamental issues and terms. The term 'cloning', both in thought and experimental practice, has taken on different meanings which in turn presume different procedures from the technical viewpoint as well as different aims.

Date posted: 2002-02-13

Declaration on the Production and the Scientific and Therapeutic Use of Human Embryonic Stem Cells

This document seeks to contribute to the debate on the production and use of embryonic stem cells which is now taking place in scientific and ethical literature and in public opinion. Given the growing relevance of the debate on the limits and liceity of the production and use of such cells, there is a pressing need to reflect on the ethical implications which are present.

Date posted: 2002-02-11

Cloning, involving use and destruction of human embryos, is morally unacceptable

Pope John Paul II addressed the 18th International Congress of the Transplantation Society, held at the Congress Hall in Rome's EUR district. After lauding the practice of organ donation, when performed in an ethically acceptable manner, the Pope addressed several critical issues, including the need for informed consent, the obligation to be morally certain of the donor's death when vital organs are to be removed, the allocation of donated organs and the use of xenotransplants.

Date posted: 2002-01-10

Salvifici Doloris

Encyclical of Pope John Paul II ...declaring the power of salvific suffering, the Apostle Paul says: “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.”

These words seem to be found at the end of the long road that winds through the suffering which forms part of the history of man and which is illuminated by the Word of God. These words have as it were the value of a final discovery, which is accompanied by joy. For this reason St. Paul writes: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” The joy comes from the discovery of the meaning of suffering, and this discovery, even if it is most personally shared in by Paul of Tarsus who wrote these words, is at the same time valid for others. The Apostle shares his own discovery and rejoices in it because of all those whom it can help — just as it helped him to understand the salvific meaning of suffering.

Date posted: 2001-12-31

Humanae Vitae

God has entrusted spouses with the extremely important mission of transmitting human life. In fulfilling this mission spouses freely and deliberately render a service to God, the Creator. This service has always been a source of great joy, although the joys are, at times, accompanied by not a few difficulties and sufferings.

Fulfilling this mission has always raised some difficult questions for the consciences of married couples. Furthermore, in recent times, the evolution of human society has brought with it changes that raise new questions. The Church can.not ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with human life and happiness.

Date posted: 2001-12-31

Charter For Health Care Workers

The extraordinary advances of science and technology in the very vast field of health and medicine have produced an independent discipline called bioethics, or ethics of life. This explains why, especially from Pius XII onwards, the magisterium of the Church has intervened with increasing interest, with consistent firmness and ever more explicit directives concerning all the complex problems arising from the indissoluble bond between medicine and morality. None of these problems can be considered neutral at this time in relation to Hippocratic ethics and Christian morality. Hence the requirement, strictly respected in the Charter for Health Care Workers, for an organic and exhaustive synthesis of the Church's position on all that pertains to the affirmation, in the field of health care, of the primary and absolute value of life: of all life and the life of every human being.

Date posted: 2001-12-31

Evangelium Vitae

The Encyclical analyzes the many forms of violence against life -- from abortion to the arms trade, from euthanasia and assisted suicide to drug abuse and the unjust distribution of the world's resources. Contraception, techniques of artificial reproduction, care for the aged or the sick and capital punishment are among issues discussed. In addition, how Christians should respond to human laws which disregard the right to life is also addressed. For example, the Pope says that "no human law can claim to legitimize" abortion and euthanasia and that, through "conscientious objection, " there "is a grave and clear obligation to oppose" laws that do so.

While countering threats to life and the spread of the Culture of Death, this fresh encyclical promotes a new Culture of Life which "needs new lifestyles which will show respect for the dignity of every individual, especially the weakest, which will recognize the value of human sexuality in the development of the person..."

Date posted: 2001-12-31

Gaudium Et Spes

The Church firmly believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, can through His Spirit offer man the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme destiny. Nor has any other name under the heaven been given to man by which it is fitting for him to be saved. She likewise holds that in her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point and the goal of man, as well as of all human history. The Church also maintains that beneath all changes there are many realities which do not change and which have their ultimate foundation in Christ, Who is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.

Date posted: 2001-12-31

Fides Et Ratio

I ask everyone to look more deeply at man, whom Christ has saved in the mystery of his love, and at the human being’s unceasing search for truth and meaning. Different philosophical systems have lured people into believing that they are their own absolute master, able to decide their own destiny and future in complete autonomy, trusting only in themselves and their own powers. But this can never be the grandeur of the human being, who can find fulfilment only in choosing to enter the truth, to make a home under the shade of Wisdom and dwell there. Only within this horizon of truth will people understand their freedom in its fullness and their call to know and love God as the supreme realization of their true self.

Date posted: 2001-12-31

Familiaris Consortio (The Family)

Knowing that marriage and the family constitute one of the most precious of human values, the church wishes to speak and offer her help to those who are already aware of the value of marriage and the family and seek to live it faithfully, to those who are uncertain and anxious and searching for the truth, and to those who are unjustly impeded from living freely their family lives. Supporting the first, illuminating the second and assisting the others, the church offers her services to every person who wonders about the destiny of marriage and the family.

Date posted: 2001-12-31

Donum Vitae

...concerning biomedical techniques which make it possible to intervene in the initial phase of the life of a human being and in the very processes of procreation and their conformity with the principles of Catholic morality.

Date posted: 2001-12-31

Casti Connubii

Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XI on the nature and dignity of Christian marriage, on the advantages and benefits which accrue from it to the family and to human society itself, on the errors contrary to this most important point of the Gospel teaching, on the vices opposed to conjugal union, and lastly on the principal remedies to be applied.

Date posted: 2001-12-31

Dives In Misericordia (Rich in Mercy)

The more the Church's mission is centered upon man - the more it is, so to speak, anthropocentric - the more it must be confirmed and actualized theocentrically, that is to say, be directed in Jesus Christ to the Father.

Date posted: 1980-11-30

Reflections on Cloning

The news published in the journal Nature, 27 February 1997, about the birth of the sheep Dolly through the efforts of the Scottish scientists Jan Vilmut and K.H.S. Campbell and their team at Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, however, had an unusual effect on public opinion and led to statements being issued by committees and national and international authorities: this happened because it was something new and was considered troubling. ...Now that some time has passed, it would be useful in a more detached way to examine closely the fact that has been noted as a disturbing event.

Date posted: 0000-00-00