Home Blog About Topics Links
You are Here:
- Church Teaching

Church Teaching
Site Map
Username: Password:
Sign Out

Official Catholic Church Teaching

The following Church letters and instructions pertain to reproductive issues and the sanctity of human life:

Humanae Vitae

Encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the Regulation of Birth (July 25, 1968)

Donum Vitae

Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation (February 22, 1987)

Evangelium Vitae

To the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, Men and Women religious, lay Faithful, and all People of Good Will on the Value and Inviolability of Human Life (March 25, 1995)

Charter for Health Care Workers

Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers (1995)

Instruction Dignitas Personae on Certain Bioethical Questions

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (September 8, 2008)

Excerpts from Humanae Vitae, Donum Vitae, and Evangelium Vitae and Charter for Health Care Workers:

"In moral evaluation a distinction must be made between strictly <therapeutic> manipulation, which aims to cure illnesses caused by genetic or chromosome anomalies (genetic therapy), from manipulation <altering> the human genetic patrimony. A curative intervention, which is also called "genetic surgery," will be considered desirable in principle, provided its purpose is the real promotion of the personal well-being of the individual, without damaging his integrity or worsening his condition of life." -- Charter for Health Care Workers (CHCW), 12

"On the other hand, interventions which are not directly curative, the purpose of which is 'the production of human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities,' which change the genotype of the individual and of the human species, 'are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being, to his integrity and to his identity. Therefore they can be in no way justified on the pretext that they will produce some beneficial results for humanity in the future,' 'no social or scientific usefulness and no ideological purpose could ever justify an intervention on the human genome unless it be therapeutic, that is its finality must be the natural development of the human being.'" - CHCW, 12

"In any case, this type of intervention 'should not prejudice the beginnings of human life, that is, procreation linked to not only the biological but also the spiritual union of the parents, united in the bond of matrimony.'" - CHCW, 14

"The negative ethical evaluations outlined here apply to all genetic manipulatory interventions concerned with embryos. On the other hand there are no moral objections to the manipulation of human body cells for curative purposes and the manipulation of animal or vegetable cells for pharmaceutical purposes." - CHCW, 14

"The application to humans of biotechnology learned from animal fertilization has made possible various interventions in human procreation, giving rise to serious questions of moral lawfulness. 'The various <techniques of artificial reproduction>, which would seem to be at the service of life and which are frequently used with this intention, actually open the door to new threats against life.'" - CHCW, 21

"The desire for a child, sincere and intense though it be, by the spouses, does not legitimize recourse to techniques which are contrary to the truth of human procreation and to the dignity of the new human being. The desire for a child gives no right to have a child. The latter is a person, with the dignity of a 'subject.' As such, it cannot be desired as an 'object.' The fact is that the child is a subject of rights: the child has the right to be conceived only with full respect for its personhood." - CHCW, 25

"In the <research> stage, the ethical norm requires that its aim be to 'promote human well-being.'  Any research contrary to the true good of the person is immoral. To invest energies and resources in it contradicts the human finality of science and its progress." -CHCW, 76

"Since the human individual, in the prenatal stage, must be given the dignity of a human person, <research and experimentation on human embryos and fetuses> is subject to the ethical norms valid for the child already born and for every human subject." - CHCW, 82

"From this it follows that they [married couples] are not free to act as they choose in the service of transmitting life, as if it were wholly up to them to decide what is the right course to follow. On the contrary, they are bound to ensure that what they do corresponds to the will of God the Creator. The very nature of marriage and its use makes His will clear, while the constant teaching of the Church spells it out." �Humanae Vitae (HV), 10

"This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act." HV, 12

"Various procedures now make it possible to intervene not only in order to assist but also to dominate the processes of procreation. These techniques can enable man to "take in hand his own destiny," but they also expose him "to the temptation to go beyond the limits of a reasonable dominion over nature." They might constitute progress in the service of man, but they also involve serious risks. Many people are therefore expressing an urgent appeal that in interventions on procreation the values and rights of the human person be safeguarded." Donum Vitae (DV), Intro, 1

"Thus science and technology require, for their own intrinsic meaning, an unconditional respect for the fundamental criteria of the moral law: that is to say, they must be at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights and his true and integral good according to the design and will of God. The rapid development of technological discoveries gives greater urgency to this need to respect the criteria just mentioned: science without conscience can only lead to man's ruin. 'Our era needs such wisdom more than bygone ages if the discoveries made by man are to be further humanized. For the future of the world stands in peril unless wiser people are forthcoming'." -DV, Intro, 2

"Applied biology and medicine work together for the integral good of human life when they come to the aid of a person stricken by illness and infirmity and when they respect his or her dignity as a creature of God.