The initiative of this institution was launched at the conclusion of the general assembly of its academics, which was held here from Feb. 24-26 on "The Ethics of Biomedical Research: For a Christian Vision."
The final statement explained that "when technology is not used within a precise ethical framework, or for the good of all men, or if benefits are achieved for some to the detriment of others, that technology is morally objectionable."
"Also entirely unacceptable is the motivation adopted by a number of people concerning the licitness of sacrificing the integrity (physical and genetic) of a human subject in the embryonic stage, by destroying it, if necessary, with the aim of obtaining benefits for other human beings," the statement continued. "It is never morally licit to intentionally commit an evil, not even to obtain something good in itself."
An appendix to the final statement was also published, consisting of an Introductory Note, a Premise and seven Commitments. Almost a manifesto for researchers, it asks them for an ethical commitment in the field of biomedicine in order to achieve a more humanized medicine.
It asks those who wish to adhere to the seven commitments to contact the Academy by e-mail (email@example.com), fax (39-06-6988-2014) or write the Pontifical Academy for Life, Via della Conciliazione, 3, Rome, 00193.
Senders must include name, address, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail address, profession, place of work, and academic titles.
The commitments the Academy proposed to researchers, the translation of which was issued by the Vatican Information Service (www.vatican.va) are as follows:
Researchers are asked to:
-- adhere to a methodology of research marked by scientific rigor and a high quality of information furnished;
-- not adhere to research conditioned by "conflicts of interest from a personal, professional, or economic viewpoint";
-- recognize that science and technology must serve the human person, fully respecting his dignity and rights;
-- recognize and respect research based on the principle of "moral goodness" and referring to a correct vision of the corporal and spiritual dimension of man;
-- recognize that every human person, from conception to natural death, is guaranteed full and unconditional respect due them by virtue of their human dignity:
-- recognize both the need to perform experiments "in the light of determined ethical rules" before applying the results to man, and the duty to safeguard human life and health;
-- recognize the legitimacy of clinical experiments on man, but only under precise conditions, including safeguarding human life and the physical integrity of the person involved, and to recognize that "experimentation must always be preceded by dutiful, correct, and complete information on the meaning and the development of the experiment."