Pope Francis Stuns the World with Bold Call for a Ban on Surrogate Motherhood

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In his annual foreign policy address to ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, in early January 2024, Pope Francis called for a universal ban on what he termed the “despicable” practice of surrogate motherhood. The pontiff included the “commercialization” of pregnancy in his list of threats to global peace and human dignity, marking a significant stance against a practice that he sees as a violation of the dignity of women and children.

Addressing a range of global issues, Pope Francis expressed deep concern over the state of global peace, citing conflicts such as Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas conflict, migration challenges, climate crises, and the production of nuclear and conventional weapons. However, he also highlighted smaller-scale issues, emphasizing the need to protect the unborn child and condemning the practice of surrogate motherhood.

Pope Francis stated, “I consider despicable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs.” He urged for a global ban on surrogacy, emphasizing that a child should be viewed as a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract.

The Pope’s opposition to commercial surrogacy aligns with the Catholic Church’s stance, which he has previously referred to as “uterus for rent.” Notably, the Vatican’s doctrine office has clarified that same-sex parents using surrogacy can have their children baptized.

While commercial surrogacy is common in the United States, it faces restrictions in parts of Europe, including Spain and Italy. The issue gained international attention during Russia’s war in Ukraine, revealing the thriving surrogacy industry in the country. Ukraine is one of the few nations that allow surrogacy for foreigners.

Critics argue that commercial surrogacy disproportionately targets economically vulnerable women, while supporters contend that it provides opportunities for childless couples and protects the rights of both surrogates and intended parents.

In Italy, where surrogacy has long been banned, the Conservative government’s opposition to registering both parents of children born via surrogacy overseas has sparked recent debates.

Pope Francis concluded his address with a geopolitical roundup, specifically addressing Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas conflict, and various humanitarian crises in Africa. The pontiff also called for diplomatic dialogue with the Nicaraguan government, urged the resumption of Iran nuclear talks, and condemned the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.

The Pope’s unequivocal stance against surrogate motherhood underscores the importance of protecting human dignity and the sanctity of life, initiating a conversation on the ethical implications of assisted reproductive technologies in today’s global society.



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