RIO DE JANEIRO, July 17, 2013 ( – Two million copies of a pro-life pamphlet have been printed and will be included in every “pilgrim's kit” that will be given to every person attending World Youth Day 2013. The booklet, titled the “Student’s Guide to Bioethics,” was produced by the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation and aims to help youth understand the critical bioethical questions facing our society from a pro-life perspective. 

The booklet includes information on abortion, assisted reproductive technology, embryo research, end of life issues, organ donation, and gender theory and sexual orientation, among others.

The Student’s Guide to Bioethics was first published in 2006 by the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation to “counter ideological bias in a qualifying examination of science for youth.” The original French edition, titled “Manuel Bioéthique des Jeunes,” was enormously successful, with over 300,000 copies having been distributed free of charge to students, parents and schools that have requested it. 

The booklet has since been translated into English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, and Swedish.

The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, sponsor of World Youth Day 2013, requested that the Student’s Guide to Bioethics be distributed to all the pilgrims attending World Youth Day in Rio this year.


The Lejeune Foundation explained that the book has been specially revised for this event and re-titled, “Keys to Bioethics.”

“Pages that in the national versions deal with the laws of the various counties in which they are distributed have been replaced with texts from magisterial documents,” a press release from the Lejeune Foundation says. 

The mission of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation is to provide research, care, and advocacy to benefit those with genetic intellectual disabilities. 

In 1958, Professor Jérôme Lejeune, a doctor and researcher at the Necker Hospital in Paris, discovered an extra chromosome on the 21st pair and in so doing discovered the genetic cause of Down syndrome. 

As the father of modern genetics, Lejeune received many international awards for his work, including the Kennedy Prize and the William Allen Memorial Award. 

Dr. Lejeune was famous for his thought-provoking quotations, such as: “At universities, I have often seen extremely intelligent people holding conferences, nodding as they considered whether their children were some sort of animal when they were very young. But at the zoo, I have yet to see a conference of chimpanzees considering whether their children would grow up to be college professors!” 

Expounding that we are, by our nature, people of wonder, Lejeune also said, “The absolute superiority, the complete novelty of humanity, is that no other creature can experience a kind of complicity between the laws of nature and its awareness of its own existence. . . . Never in the history of gardening have we seen a dog smell the scent of a rose. Nor has a chimpanzee ever gazed at the sunset or the splendor of a starry sky.”

Jérôme Lejeune died April 3, 1994, shortly after being appointed by Pope John Paul II to serve as the first president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. 

The theme of World Youth Day 2013, “Go and make disciples of all peoples,” is taken from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 28:19). 

Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Redemptoris Missio, encouraged all Catholics to be engaged in the work of evangelization. In that document the late Holy Father famously made a distinction between the evangelizing mission “ad gentes” and what he called the “new evangelization.” 

Ad gentes (“to the nations”) is the activity that is associated with an historical understanding of evangelization that is directed towards nations and peoples who have never heard the Gospel. The new evangelization is directed toward historically Christian countries and people who have heard the Gospel but have not fully responded to it, or have outright rejected it. 

John Paul II wrote that he sensed “that the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization, and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.” 

The Keys to Bioethics booklet will prove to be a useful resource for youth to engage society and culture in order to build up what John Paul II called the “culture of life” and resist the “culture of death.” 

Click here to download a free copy of “A Student's Guide to Bioethics” 

Information about the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation is available here

Information about World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is available here.


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