Church's stance on snowflake babies?

Hello,

I was reading an article today on members of the Evangelical religion making a new movement to adopt frozen snowflake embroys being housed in a science freezer.

(see more on the story at this link: religionnews.com/culture/social-issues/evangelicals-seek-a-future-for-thousands-of-frozen-embryos

What is the Church’s stance on these babies? Obviously they are fertizlied eggs, so they have been conceived (although sometimes through science). Do they have a soul? I know that we could not adopt them as above news story, because that is in vitro fertilization - “It needs to be recognized that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice that cannot be resolved,” (Vatican quote in 2008).

Is the solution then to simply pray for these little souls?

Thanks for the insight!

Chloe M.

I don’t know what the position of ‘adopting’ these embryos (and then bringing them to term in a womb by a woman willing to do so) would be from the Church, but I do know that they have souls. Such souls came into being at the moment of conception. It is only Man that is preventing them from being born and THAT is deeply and depressingly sinful.

Deeply and depressingly sinful says it. It’s so heartbreaking to consider.

It really is - all those babies in science freezers - but since we as Catholics don’t support in vitro fertilization becuase it involves humans playing God - do we simply pray for the babies?

I thought it was okay to adopt these children. I have not investigated it, but I have a friend who is a very good and holy catholic and would never intentionally go against chuch teaching and she adopted several. In vitro is against church teaching, but these are children who need parents, just like any other child brought into the world. But PLEASE ask a good and holy priest to be sure that it is okay. :slight_smile:

Your friend is wonderful to want to bring snowflake babies into the world and be their mother. There is no doubt she is blessed as well as her babies. She is obviously unknowledgeable about Catholic rules and laws though. The Catholic Church forbids adoption of snowflake babies because implantation of them doesn’t involve the unitive property that the Church requires. In order to make sex, baby making and everything in-between licit according to the rules of the Church, two properties must be present 1) the unitive property and 2) procreative property. These two requirements form the foundation on which all the other laws are built (no sex before marriage, no sex for divorced people, no homosexuality, etc.). The Church finds the situation of having snowflake babies suspended frozen in time tragic, but they don’t have an answer for the problem yet.

They are unborn children.

They are created in the image and likeness of God.

They have souls.

Their humanity is not denied by the Church. They are denied the dignity of natural conception and birth by other humans.

Pray for them.

At this time the chuch has no position on the adoption of frozen embryos. However, it does state that there is NO licit solution. That would seem to include “adopting” them.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued Dignitas Personae , which tackles the morality of IVF and addresses the issue of embryo adoption. It’s a short document and an easy read. I recommend it highly.

It specifically addresses the dilemma of frozen embryos left over after IVF:
With regard to the large number of frozen embryos already in existence the question becomes: what to do with them? All the answers that have been proposed (use the embryos for research or for the treatment of disease; thaw them without reactivating them and use them for research, as if they were normal cadavers; put them at the disposal of infertile couples as a “treatment for infertility”; allow a form of “prenatal adoption”) present real problems of various kinds. It needs to be recognized “that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved. Therefore, John Paul II made an “appeal to the conscience of the world’s scientific authorities and in particular to doctors, that the production of human embryos be halted, taking into account that there seems to be **no morally licit solution **regarding the human destiny of the thousands and thousands of ‘frozen’ embryos which are and remain the subjects of essential rights and should therefore be protected by law as human persons” (n. 19). (emphasis mine)
It other words, we have a mess on our hands. Many respected leaders in the Catholic bioethics community such as Dr. John Haas and Father Tad Pacholczyk (who also has a Ph.D. in molecular biology) have come down against embryo adoption, as it is a participation in the broader realm of IVF.

This issue hasn’t really been settled yet. I think a case can be made for both sides. Even faithful Catholic moral theologians disagree.

The soul is infused at the moment of conception. So these babies are just as human as anyone else.

“Adopting” them is different from traditional in vitro fertilization because the embryos have already been made. It’s the creation on these babies outside the natural context of marital relations that is the most morally problematic. And that has already taken place. So what’s the solution? Kill them? Leve them frozen indefinitely? Those options seem much more morally problematic than implanting them and giving them a chance. So I can understand why good Christians are pursuing it.

Thanks for posting that link. That seems to be the whole thing in a nutshell. We’ve created a situation which offers no morally licit path out. Anything we do (and even anything we do not do) is morally problematic. So in this type of situation, what do we do?

Obviously, the answer is to not get ourselves into this situation in the first place. But for the thousands of frozen babies already in existence, what do we do?

Pray. Trust the Church’s wisdom and guidance - and fully rely on God’s wisdom.

Actually, she may well be right on track with Church teaching. The Church has not said that adoption of abandoned frozen embryos is prohibited.

I think you missed a really important part of that quote:

Therefore, John Paul II made an “appeal to the conscience of the world’s scientific authorities and in particular to doctors, that the production of human embryos be halted, taking into account that there seems to be no morally licit solution regarding the human destiny of the thousands and thousands of ‘frozen’ embryos which are and remain the subjects of essential rights and should therefore be protected by law as human persons.”

In other words, the Church has not yet concluded what to do in this situation. There’s a huge difference between “there seems to be no morally licit solution” and “there is no morally licit solution.”

And I think you’re making an assumption about “part of the broader realm of IVF” issue. Taking an embryo who is no longer wanted and raising him/her to life is not at all the same thing as paying someone to create a life. Embryo adoption is a ***post-***IVF issue. It is not part of IVF. Given that it’s illegal to buy embryos, it’s hard to see how allowing the adoption of them would incentivize IVF. It isn’t like the people abandoning the embryos (“We made six, but the first two are enough, so get rid of the remaining four”) think that they can make money doing this.

Exactly.

A lot of people have a knee-jerk reaction against prenatal adoption because they think it’s a form of IVF. The difference is that IVF involves the creation of human life in the laboratory, while prenatal adoption involves the rescue of already-created but no longer wanted human life from the freezer.

Exactly.

A lot of people have a knee-jerk reaction against prenatal adoption because they think it’s a form of IVF. The difference is that IVF involves the creation of human life in the laboratory, while prenatal adoption involves the rescue of already-created but no longer wanted human life from the freezer

But aren’t the frozen embroys a result of IVF technology? A creaton of life outside the womb, which the Church condems?

I think you are imputing positions to me that I do not hold nor did I state. I never said that adopting frozen embryos was prohibited, nor did I suggest it. To the contrary, read the very first thing I said in my post. (i.e. the church has taken no position) However, I did raise the church’s concern of whether doing so was morally licit. There is, to paraphrase you, a big differrence between not yet taking a position on the morality of an act and saying that the act is morally licit. The mere fact that it is not “prohibited” does not mean that it is approved either.

Additionally, “I” am making no assumption about it being in the broader realm of IVF. I merely was stating that at least two well respected and highly qualified Catholic ethicists have condemned it because it is THEIR view that is part of the broader realm of IVF.

Merely pointing out the church’s concerns.

And wouldn’t there adoption be a form of surrogate motherhood, also not supported by the Church?

**from Catholic Answers:

Our Holy Father reminds us that “man’s life comes from God; it is his gift, his image and imprint, a sharing in his breath of life. God therefore is the sole Lord of this life: Man cannot do with it as he wills. Human life and death are thus in the hands of God, in his power. He alone can say: ‘It is I who bring both death and life’ (Deut. 32:39)” (Evangelium Vitae 39).

We must recognize the right of God alone to give life and to take it. It has been one of humanity’s great tragedies that many innocent ones have to die before we are able to see that truth.

Yes, but that is not the babies’ fault. The Church does not condemn or ostracize those who have been conceived by immoral means (whether by IVF, fornication, rape, incest, etc.).

It’s a tough issue to sort through, that’s for sure.

This is such a tragic issue. A part of me wants to believe that there is always a solution, always a way out. But this is an issue that simply should not exist in the first place. Because the Church has not prohibited the adoption of snowflake babies, I think there is hope for them. What we must do is pray that the Holy Spirit enlighten the Church so that there can be an official declaration on what to do. We must pray for these tiny souls who had no say in how they came to be.

I am not sure the RNS news article is accurate in its claim that the Catholic Church discourages the adoption of “snowflake babies.” The article cites a passage from a Vatican document: “It needs to be recognized that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice that cannot be resolved"

However, if you look up that passage in the document here is what it says in context:

[quote=Instruction *Dignitas Personae
[/quote]

on Certain Bioethical Questions]All things considered, it needs to be recognized that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved. Therefore John Paul II made an “appeal to the conscience of the world’s scientific authorities and in particular to doctors, that the production of human embryos be halted, taking into account that there seems to be no morally licit solution regarding the human destiny of the thousands and thousands of ‘frozen’ embryos which are and remain the subjects of essential rights and should therefore be protected by law as human persons”
vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20081208_dignitas-personae_en.html

If the document suggests any official position on adopting frozen embyros, I think it would be a position of support. The Vatican recognizes their full status as human persons. Since the frozen embryos will perish in the freezer if they are not adopted, it stands to reason that the Vatican would support their adoption so long as doing so did not result in the creation of additional frozen embryos.

I am not not familiar with the situation in other countries, but in the US the supply far exceeds the demand, so I don’t see why the Vatican would object.

I cannot for the life of me see the moral difference between adoption of a post-birth child compared with a pre-birth child.

Yes there is a practical difference, but ultimately don’t all adoptive parents provide for their young in one physical sense or another?

If you think about it, children have often been provided with wet-nurses for centuries, and the Church has never, so far as I know, declared sinful or illicit the offering of another woman’s natural functions for the well-being of the child not otherwise related to her. An adoptive pregnancy seems, to me, to be of the same morally positive quality. It would save a life that already exists, albeit in an objectively immoral stasis through no fault of the child.

We simply must not let such children die where the opportunity to save them exists, no matter how sinful the circumstances of their coming into being are. No child is culpable for the sins of his or her own parents (or indeed the scientists involved in its conception).

Sure: the Church condemns the creation of such life outside the womb. What we’re discussing here is what to do after it was done anyway.

The Church also condemns a man siring a child on his girlfriend. But the result of that union has full rights regardless of the manner in which s/he came to be. I’m suggesting that the same applies here: regardless of how these embryos – children, yes? – came to be, they have a right not to be thrown in the trash.

Why not permit prenatal adoption for the sake of those lives? Be careful not to encourage the production of more such lives, of course; but allow them to live.

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