Pope calls for universal ban on surrogacy in global roundup of threats to peace and human dignity

Francis: The life of the unborn child must be protected and not suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking


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Published: Mon 8 Jan 2024, 2:55 PM

Last updated: Mon 8 Jan 2024, 3:18 PM

Pope Francis called Monday for a universal ban on the “despicable” practice of surrogate motherhood, as he included the “commercialisation” of pregnancy in an annual speech listing threats to global peace and human dignity.

In a foreign policy address to ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Francis lamented that 2024 had dawned at a time in history in which peace is “increasingly threatened, weakened and in some part lost.”

Citing Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war, migration and climate crises and the “immoral” production of nuclear and conventional weapons, Francis delivered a lengthy laundry list of the ills afflicting humanity and the increasing violation of international humanitarian law that allows them.

But Francis also listed smaller-scale issues that he said were threats to peace and human dignity, including surrogacy. Francis said the life of the unborn child must be protected and not “suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking.”

“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 said.

He called for the international community “to prohibit this practice universally.”

Francis has previously voiced the Catholic Church’s opposition to what he has called “uterus for rent,” and some European countries prohibit it, including Spain and Italy. At the same time, however, the Vatican’s doctrine office has made clear that homosexual parents who resort to surrogacy can have their children baptized.

In his geopolitical roundup, Francis singled out Russia by name in noting that “large-scale war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine” had ground on. It marked an unusual break with Francis’ usual tendency to spare Moscow direct, public blame for the invasion when expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Francis was more balanced in his lament of Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza, condemning Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel “and every instance of terrorism and extremism.” At the same time, he said the attack provoked a “strong Israeli military response” that had left thousands dead and created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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