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Life in Christ



Research or experimentation on the human being cannot

legitimate acts that are in themselves contrary to the dignity of

persons and to the moral law. The subjects’ potential consent does

not justify such acts. Experimentation on human beings is not

morally legitimate if it exposes the subject’s life or physical and

psychological integrity to disproportionate or avoidable risks. Ex­

perimentation on human beings does not conform to the dignity

of the person if it takes place without the informed consent of the

subject or those who legitimately speak for him.


Organ transplants

are in conformity with the moral law if the

physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportion­

ate to the good that is sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death

is a noble and meritorous act and is to be encouraged as an expression of

generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy

has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible

directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being,

even in order to delay the death of other persons.

Respect for bodily integrity




hostage taking

bring on a reign of terror; by

means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures.

They are morally wrong.


threatens, wounds, and kills in­

discriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity.


which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, pun­

ish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to

respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when per­

formed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended

amputations, mutilations,



performed on innocent

persons are against the moral law.



In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate

governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the

Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the

prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts

are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She

forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that

these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in confor­

mity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary,

these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work

for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.

91 Cf. DS 3722.