The Vatican will soon release a new document addressing bioethical concerns — in particular those relating to the personhood of the human embryo — in response to the scientific developments of the past twenty years, according to coverage by the National Catholic Reporter.
The document will act as a follow-up to the text Donum Vitae, released in 1987, that addressed the emerging technologies of artificial reproduction and embryonic research, said Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in an interview with the Italian bishops' newspaper L'Avvenire on January 28.
The new text will build on the foundation of Donum Vitae, expanding on the principles outlined in the original document to include issues current today.
"This ‘Donum Vitae II' has not been conceived in order to abolish the preceding document, but to confront the various bioethical and biotechnological questions which present themselves today, which at the time were unthinkable," Archbishop Amato said.
"Donum Vitae conserves all of its value, and in certain ways was prophetic. The problem is that despite being 20 years old, it's still little known."
The Archbishop refuted media speculation that the document would definitively address the use of condoms by married couples when one is infected with HIV, saying, "The question is not a revision of moral doctrine, for example regarding whether the use of prophylactics is licit, which does not seem to me to be on the agenda.
"Rather, it's new challenges which are in some ways much more grave and destructive of the identity of the human person, such as an embryo which is considered a biological product rather than a human being."
A second document, on natural law, will soon be released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop Amato said, which is an essential theme because "it's the only possible foundation for fruitful inter-religious dialogue."