Do Cloned Babies Have Souls?
Roman Catholic Church says that a soul is present in a new human being once
the moment of conception occurs, when nuclei from the sperm and ovum fuse. In
the case of cloning, however, there is no conception because the new human grows
from a single cell.
Does this new human have a soul? If so, how does this happen?
If not, is this new creature really human?
question is currently hypothetical because there is no evidence that it is
possible to clone a human being. Although human tissue has been cloned and
animals have been cloned, it is uncertain that a person can be cloned, that
God's careful handiwork can be duplicated apart from using sperm and egg.
If a new creature appears to be human and is generally regarded
as human, we can only assume that he or she is human because a human
soul is already present. The Church opposes the cloning of humans because this
is the creation of human life apart from the family unit, apart from a clear
sense of who is responsible for caring for this person.
On December 28, 2002, the Raelian organization claimed that it had
helped a cloned baby to be born two days earlier. Later they claimed two more
cloned babies had been born. No proof has been offered for any of these claims
and scientists are extremely skeptical—partly because the Raelians have no previous
experience in scientific research. Their claim that human life on earth is
cloned from extraterrestial beings raises further doubts about their credibility.
We must presume that any child recognizable as a human being has
a human soul. How that happens with cloning is no more difficult to explain
than for a child conceived naturally or through in vitro fertilization,
which the Catholic Church opposes. After all, sperm and egg do not each contribute
half a soul to form a baby's soul. Only God creates souls.
years ago, our family put most of its savings in mutual funds. Most funds keep
holdings in diverse categories of business, including small percentages in biotechnology,
health care and/or pharmaceuticals that may, and some must, manufacture products
for abortion or human cloning, both of which are gravely immoral.
It seems nearly impossible to identify and track products
in which mutual funds have been invested since they constantly buy and sell
shares in companies.
I do not want in any way to cooperate in abortion or
human cloning. I am at a loss regarding my obligation because
there is nothing else in which one can invest without some
unintended or remote cooperation.
If I invest in certificates of deposit or simply have
a bank account, I have no control over how my money is used.
The bank might loan money to someone getting an abortion
or they might loan money for abortion clinics. That seems
to be the same unintended, remote cooperation in evil as
if I invested in mutual funds. I have a dilemma!
What is my moral obligation in this situation?
A: In cases like these, Catholic
theology asks what a reasonable person would conclude about
the decision in question. Without such a standard, all followers
of Jesus might become hermits to avoid any "cooperation
Because other ethically concerned investors share concerns
similar to yours, they have organized the Interfaith
Center on Corporate Responsibility (475 Riverside Drive,
Room 550, New York, NY 10115).
consumers can find out where some of the largest consumer
product companies stand on labor, environmental, civil-
and human-rights issues. This site also allows visitors
to send e-mail letters to companies, letting them know how
their practices cause people to patronize or avoid them.
This Web site is part of a much larger consumers' action
group, the Responsible
Two investment groups that address these issues are Ave
Maria Catholic Values Fund (managed by Schwartz Investment
Counsel) and Aquinas Funds (managed by Aquinas Investment
Advisors). I am not promoting either fund, simply pointing
out that you are not alone in asking questions about ethical
To those who say the connection between individual investor
and larger social injustice or evil is too remote or that
stockholders cannot influence a company's policies, consider
that economic pressure on South Africa's apartheid government
helped bring fundamental changes there, including extending
the vote to the vast majority of that country's citizens.
Celebrities with their own line of clothing, well-known
shoe manufacturers and producers of apparel displaying
college logos have made significant changes because they
have been challenged about inhumane working conditions where
these products are made.
An ethically responsible person cannot say, "That's fine
but it's moral nitpicking. This is business." The Good News
of Jesus Christ does not allow for compartmentalizing one's
life that way.
On the other hand, an ethically responsible person cannot
allow himself/ herself to be constantly tied up in knots
about the same moral issues. Some decision must be made—one
that could be defended before God if necessary.
The fact that you raise this question indicates that you
are trying to live in a morally responsible way. I encourage
you to wrestle with this situation until you have the information
and courage necessary to make a good moral judgment.
Why No Bells at Mass?
parish's liturgy committee has been discussing the use of bells during the eucharistic
prayer. Can you give me any information on why bells are not used in many churches
are not required. The original reasons for using them (Mass in Latin, no microphone
at the altar and a priest with his back to the people) have largely disappeared.
Today we have Mass in the local language and the priest facing the people. Most
parishes have microphones on the altar or portable microphones.
When I learned how to be an altar server in the 1950s, ringing the
bells helped people to focus on the start of the Offertory, the Holy, Holy,
the consecration of the bread and wine and preparations for distributing Holy
Responding to Vatican II's emphasis on "full and active participation"
in the Eucharist, people today have numerous visual and auditory clues, plus
the availability of personal missals or worship aids, about each part of the
Now that I think of it, for all the Masses that I attended at St. Peter's
Basilica in Rome when I lived there during the 1980s and
1990s, I cannot remember that bells were ever used during
the pope's Mass.
Can Flags Be Displayed in Church?
Q: What is the Catholic Church's position on displaying the
American flag in the sanctuary on a permanent basis? Is it O.K. to display it
elsewhere in church? I have gotten different answers from Catholics whom I've
A: Believe it or not, the
General Instruction of the Roman Missal (fourth edition,
1975) does not address this issue. It speaks of other furnishings
in the sanctuary but does not mention flags. The Code of
Canon Law does not address this practice, either.
Many Catholic parishes that displayed both the U.S. and the papal
flag in the sanctuary quietly removed them during renovations or the construction
of new buildings. The reason is that sanctuaries can easily become overloaded
with symbols: altar, cross, lectern for reading Scripture and the presider's
chair—all of which are called for in the General Instruction. And the
tabernacle may be in the sanctuary.
The local bishop has the right to issue regulations on an issue
such as flags. Most bishops discourage the permanent placement of flags in sanctuaries
but allow their occasional use on special days (Memorial Day, Fourth of July
or Thanksgiving, for example). The flag can be permanently placed outside the
sanctuary or in the church's vestibule, especially near a book of prayer requests.
Catholics who are American citizens are proud of their country,
but they also remember that, as the Pledge of Allegiance says, ours is "one
nation, under God...."
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