Last week the Catholic Church's solidified its official position against the use of assisted reproductive technologies with the release of a new position paper, Dignitas Personae -– Latin for "the dignity of a person." It had been more than two decades since the Vatican had weighed in on issues like in vitro fertilization, embryo freezing, and embryo genetic testing. These technologies have grown significantly in use over the last 20 years.
The Church condemned technologies in which embryos may be lost, including in vitro fertilization and embryonic stem cell research. However, it is well-known that many Catholic families use in vitro fertilization to overcome issues of infertility, and not all Catholic clergy agree that in vitro fertilization is morally unacceptable.
Somewhat surprisingly, the document does not universally condemn genetic therapies designed to alleviate suffering or cure disease – even if these therapies might be passed down from generation to generation. The document states, "Because the risks connected to any genetic manipulation are considerable and as yet not fully controllable, in the present state of research [emphasis added], it is not morally permissible to act in a way that may cause possible harm to the resulting progeny."
Dignitas Personae is available online at the Vatican's website.