Pope Benedict said Monday that embryos created for in-vitro fertilization deserve the same right to life as newborns and adults. Addressing participants to a Vatican conference on the ethical treatment of human embryos, the pope reaffirmed Roman Catholic teaching that life begins at the moment of conception.
Pope Benedict said Monday that embryos created outside a woman's womb have the same right to life as those created naturally. He was speaking to participants of a two-day international congress at the Vatican on the ethical treatment of human embryos prior to implantation.
The congress focuses on the human embryos in its earliest phase of development. Prelates, bioethics experts and scientists are discussing issues including pre-implantation genetic screening of an embryo to check for diseases.
The pope said each human being deserves to be loved and God's love for every human being is without bounds.
Pope Benedict said the Roman Catholic Church has always proclaimed that every human life is sacred and inviolable from its conception to its natural end.
He added that this moral judgment is valid from the start of the life of the embryo, even before it is implanted in the mother's womb.
He said embryos should be given the same dignity as a newborn or fully-grown adult. God's love, he said, does not distinguish between the newly conceived baby still in the mother's womb, the child, the youth and the mature or elderly person.
The pope made no distinction between an embryo created naturally and one created outside the womb through in-vitro fertilization.
The pope made clear that in-vitro fertilization is considered morally wrong. The Church's reasoning is that it replaces the natural conjugal love between husband and wife. The Church does allow artificial insemination for married couples if it "facilitates" the sex act, but does not replace it.
The Church opposes the destruction and freezing of embryos created outside the womb, research into cloning and experimentation using stem cells taken from specially produced embryos. At the congress Monday, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, head of the Vatican department on health issues, said, "Using embryos for scientific goals is another way of suppressing life."