Genetic Engineering Must Be Guided by Respect for Life, Insists Pope

Says Church Supports Research Governed by Ethics

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says that the Church supports genetic engineering with enthusiasm if it respects the rights and dignity of the human person.



The Pope expressed this in a message written for the 2004 World Day of the Sick, which on Feb. 11 will focus attention on the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.

"Our era has made great strides in the scientific knowledge of life, fundamental gift of God of which we are administrators," the Holy Father states in his message. "Life must be welcomed, respected and defended from its beginning until its natural death. Together with it, must be protected the family, cradle of every life that is born."

"Now there is generally talk of 'genetic engineering' to refer to the extraordinary possibilities that science offers today to intervene in the very sources of life," the message continues, made public Wednesday by the Vatican press office.

"All genuine progress in this field cannot but be encouraged, on the condition that it always respects the rights and dignity of the person from conception," the papal message clarifies.

"No one, in fact, can arrogate to himself the power to destroy or manipulate in an indiscriminate manner the life of the human being," the Pope writes.

He concludes by appealing to the agents in the field of pastoral health care to sensitize "all those who work in this delicate sector, so that they will always feel committed to placing themselves at the service of life."

The Holy Father also thanks "the medical and paramedical personnel, researchers, especially those dedicated to finding new medicines, and those who produce medicines that are more accessible to those who have less possibilities."