First, it was Donum Vitae
(The Gift of Life) in 1987, followed by Evangelium Vitae
(The Gospel of Life) in 1995. Now the Vatican has given us its third major pronouncement on bioethics in over 2 decades with Dignitas Personae
(The Dignity of the Person), released today. The instruction was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly headed by Pope Benedict XVI) and (as the N.Y. Times put it
) "carries the approval and authority of [the Pope]." In light of the Holy See's numerous lesser statements over the years, it comes as no great surprise that the document condemns the morning-after pill, the IUD, RU-486, the freezing of embryos (a common practice for couples who undergo in vitro fertilization), stem-cell research (if the stem cells were derived from embryos: stem cells from adults, cord blood, or fetuses who died of natural causes are okay), human cloning, and designer babies.