The Vatican will update Catholic Church teachings on bioethics in two weeks with the planned release of a new document looking at human cloning and stem cell research in Rome.
The document, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will be released during a bioethics conference at the Vatican on Dec. 12.
It is expected to examine issues not explicitly considered by two previous church documents: "Donum Vitae" ("The Gift of Life") in 1987 and Pope John Paul II's encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life") in 1995.
Pope Benedict XVI, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine before becoming pontiff, told the grouplast January that new ethical problems needing their attention included the freezing of human embryos, the selective reduction of embryos, pre-implant diagnosis, research on embryonic stem cells and attempts at human cloning.
"The two fundamental criteria for moral discernment in this field are unconditional respect for the human being as a person from the moment of conception to natural death, (and) respect for the originality of the transmission of human life through the acts proper to spouses."