Pope: God’s Love Doesn’t Distinguish Embryo, Toddler, Teen and Elderly

By Terry Vanderheyden

VATICAN CITY, February 27, 2006 ( – In an address to a group discussing the human embryo, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that “the love of God does not distinguish between the newly-conceived infant still in its mother’s womb, the baby, the youth, the grown adult or the elderly, because in each of them He sees the sign of His own image and likeness.”

The Pope made his comments today before a Pontifical Academy for Life international congress on “the human embryo prior to implantation, scientific aspects and bioethical considerations.” The congress, which is being held to mark the 12th general assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, runs today and tomorrow in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall.

“In order to attribute a ‘juridical status’ to the embryo, it is necessary to ‘understand’ its nature,” said Adriano Bompiani, gynecologist and director of the International Scientific Institute of Rome’s Sacred Heart Catholic University. He was explaining the reason for the congress, according to a Vatican Information Service report. “Such understanding,” Bompiani added, “must be based on ontological study. Today, it is not enough to examine the embryo under the microscope.”

Pope Benedict XVI went on to explain that scripture “expresses the love of God towards all human beings even before they take form in the mother’s womb. This limitless and almost incomprehensible love of God for man reveals to what point human beings are worthy of love in themselves, regardless of any other consideration, be it intelligence, beauty, health, youth, integrity and so on,” he added. “Human life is a good thing, always and definitively.”

“In man, in all men and women, whatever their stage or condition of life, there shines a reflection of God’s own reality,” the Holy Father emphasized. “For this reason, the Magisterium of the Church has constantly proclaimed the sacred and inviolable nature of each human life, from conception to natural end. This moral judgement also holds at the beginning of an embryo’s life, even before it is implanted in the mother’s womb.”

Moral theologian, doctor, and bioethics expert Bishop Willem Jacobus Eijk of Groningen, Netherlands, further expanded on the Pope’s explanation of the beginning of human life. He explained how in the late 1960s, “the idea arose that the status of the human being and the personality of an individual emerge at the moment of nidation (implantation), because this implicates the beginning of a close relationship with the mother. “Such a relationship already comes about in the fusion of the spermatozoon and the ovum as the fruit of a sexual relationship between the parents,” the bishop added. “Moreover, even before implantation, the embryo receives the necessary nutrients and oxygen for growth from the mother.”

“The embryo, even in the pre-nidation phase, is a being with its own life separate from that of the mother, a human being from a biological point of view, an individual, and a being with an intrinsic destiny to become a human person,” Bishop Eijk said.

  See the Pope’s full address:

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