Is It OK to Adopt an Embryo?

Full Question

What is Church teaching on embryo adoption?


The closest the Church has come to addressing this specific issue was in the document Dignitas Personae:

It has also been proposed, solely in order to allow human beings to be born who are otherwise condemned to destruction, that there could be a form of “prenatal adoption.” This proposal, praiseworthy with regard to the intention of respecting and defending human life, presents however various problems not dissimilar to those mentioned above (19).

However, the USCCB did not see this as a definitive decision:

Proposals for “adoption” of abandoned or unwanted frozen embryos are also found to pose problems, because the Church opposes use of the gametes or bodies of others who are outside the marital covenant for reproduction. [Dignitas Personae] raises cautions or problems about these new issues but does not formally make a definitive judgment against them.

Theologian Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk notes in his article What Should We Do With Frozen Embryos:

There is ongoing debate among reputable Catholic theologians about this matter, and technically it remains an open question. A recent Vatican document called Dignitas Personae expressed serious moral reservations about the approach, without, however, explicitly condemning it as immoral.

For both sides of the debate, I recommend:
Dignitas Personae and the Question of “Embryo Adoption” A Debate on Dignitas Personae

By  Fr. Charles Grondin



  1. thomraff Reply

    “There is ongoing debate among reputable Catholic theologians about this matter, and technically it remains an open question.” It is only an open question for those who are deluded by dogma. The greatest abortionist is your god, as over half of all fertilized eggs end up in waste disposals. Three words: they.aren’t.persons.

  2. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Does the Church favor “baptizing” these embryos so as to assure them of salvation when they are discarded? LOL. I guess that would be a little tricky.
    Catholic doctrine says baptism is necessary for salvation and all we can do is “hope” the totally helpless and innocent aborted, miscarried and stillborn souls aren’t sent to Hell by the Catholic god. One would assume these embryos are in the same category. If they aren’t baptized, they aren’t assured of salvation.
    That the Catholic god goes out of his way to leave open the question of whether he is evil in sending these souls to Hell, or loving in granting them salvation (whatever that means), is a curious thing. You’d think a good god would want us to know he was good, but in that case, why on earth did he produce the bible?

  3. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Some additional thought here… These embryos were created without benefit of sex. Original sin is passed along by sex; that’s why the Church is so obsessive about sex, and Mary’s virginity. Yet we are told that we are given souls at conception. Hmm. Is it possible that the Church considers the products of this kind of conception to be without souls, since they were conceived without sex? That would mean no heaven, but also no Hell. Or maybe they are born without original sin. Mary had to be a virgin so original sin wasn’t passed on, but these embryos are conceived without sex, so perhaps they have no original sin, like Jesus.
    This connection between sex and original sin came to a head in the 1800s when they learned that women contributed half of the genetic material to the offspring. Up till then they thought the woman grew the man’s seed. This presented a big problem. Mary had original sin because her parents did the naughty deed, so she would have passed it on to Jesus, virgin or not. To solve this, the Church decided in 1854 that Mary was born without original sin. Problem solved. But now we have embryos that can be born without original sin because no sex was involved. We also have the nagging question of why Yahweh-Jesus can’t cure all of us of original sin, as he did Mary, without all the rigmarole of impregnating a virgin without her consent, in order to be born as himself, so he could sacrifice himself, to himself, in order to remove this condition of original sin which he placed on us in the first place, but which he removed from Mary with a wink and a nod.

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