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Human embryos aren’t discardable: Pope’s March intention for dignity and progress


Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 03/08/22

"It’s about protecting both human dignity and progress. That is to say, we cannot pay the price of human dignity for progress, no. Both go together, in harmony."

How should we respond to the advances of bioethics? Pope Francis responds with a call to defend life. He calls all Christians not to “hide our head like an ostrich” and to promote the defense of life.

The Pope Video for March has just been released with the prayer intention that Francis is entrusting to the entire Catholic Church through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.

This month, the Holy Father addresses the new challenges that bioethics presents to the world today and, in the light of them, calls us to “continue to defend the dignity of all human life with prayer and action.” 

The video has been made with the collaboration of The Pontifical Academy for Life.

How should we think about bioethics from a Christian perspective?

No one can deny the progress that bioethics has shown in recent decades. This relatively new discipline is dedicated, among other things, to orienting and reflecting on problematic situations that include financial, social, ecological, ethical, biomedical, and biotechnological issues. In the prayer intention for March, the Holy Father encourages us not to curb the advances of bioethics nor to hide ourselves from its fields of action and investigation.

Biotechnology “must always be used based on respect for human dignity,” the Pope says.

For example, human embryos cannot be treated as disposable material, to be discarded. This throw-away culture is also applied to them; no, that can’t be done. Extending that culture this way does so much harm.

Or allowing financial gain to condition biomedical research.

We need to understand the profound changes that are taking place with an even more profound and subtle discernment.

It’s not a matter of curbing technological advances. No, we must accompany them. It’s about protecting both human dignity and progress. That is to say, we cannot pay the price of human dignity for progress, no. Both go together, in harmony.


For this reason, Francis asks Christians to promote the defense of life through prayer—which continues to be the central focus of the intentions proposed each month by the Pontiff and promulgated by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network through The Pope Video and the Click to Pray app—but also through social action.

Indeed, Christians have the duty of participating in public debate, making their voice heard with language and arguments that are appropriate and understandable in the current social context—as the Holy Father recently called to mind addressing the Pontifical Academy for Life—but without watering down the contents, and always reiterating the need for integral human development.

Fr. Frédéric Fornos, S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, commented on this intention: “Pope Francis always insists on the need for greater discernment regarding the challenges of bioethics, on the need to respect human life and in no way seek one’s own interests following the logic of the market, which knows no limits. These are necessary criteria for discernment which help us to leave behind a throw-away culture and which promote integral respect for human life—the entire extent of human life, from birth to death. Let us pray that, in the face of the new challenges of bioethics, we may always promote the defense of life through prayer and social action.”

The Pope Video is possible thanks to the generous contributions of many people. You can donate by following this link.

BioethicsPope FrancisPope Video
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