VATICAN, February 6, 2002 ( – Yesterday, in his message released for Lent 2002, Pope John Paul II warned against abuses of biotechnology. “The achievements of medicine and biotechnology can sometimes lead man to think of himself as his own creator, and to succumb to the temptation of tampering with ‘the tree of life,’” he said.

The Pope touched on issues surrounding the human embryo. “The beginning of life and its marvellous development: this is a gift. And because it is gift, life can never be regarded as a possession or as private property, even if the capabilities we now have to improve the quality of life can lead us to think that man is the ‘master’ of life.”

The Pope underlined the Church’s openness to scientific advancements which are at the service of humanity and its opposition to practices which fly in the face of human dignity. “It is also worth repeating here that not everything that is technically possible is morally acceptable,” he said. “Scientific work aimed at securing a quality of life more in keeping with human dignity is admirable, but it must never be forgotten that human life is a gift, and that it remains precious even when marked by suffering and limitations.”

See the full Lenten address of the Pope: