Human Embryo, File Photo. / Firstbrook Just Click 100 via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Vatican City, Mar 8, 2022 / 09:50 am (CNA).

Pope Francis’ prayer intention for March is that bioethical issues will be approached with respect for human life and dignity.

“Biotechnological applications must always be used based on respect for human dignity,” the pope said in a video appeal issued on March 8.

“It is evident that science has progressed,” he noted, “and today the field of bioethics presents us with a series of problems to which we must respond, not hiding our head like an ostrich.”

“Let us pray that we may give a Christian response to bioethical challenges,” Francis said.

The pope’s prayer video included images of a pregnant woman, a sonogram of a preborn child, an infant soon after birth, and an elderly woman in the hospital.

Scientists in a lab, a medical operation, and a young girl with Down syndrome were also featured in the video.

Pope Francis’ prayer intention for March reads: “We pray for Christians facing new bioethical challenges; may they continue to defend the dignity of all human life with prayer and action.”

In the video, Pope Francis said that upholding human dignity means that, “for example, human embryos cannot be treated as disposable material, to be discarded.”

“This throwaway culture is also applied to them; no, that can’t be done. Extending that culture this way does so much harm.”

He also said that financial gain should not govern the direction of biomedical research.

“We need to understand the profound changes that are taking place with an even more profound and subtle discernment,” the pope urged.

He added that Catholics should focus on accompanying technological advances, rather than curbing them.

“It’s about protecting both human dignity and progress,” he said. “That is to say, we cannot pay the price of human dignity for progress, no. Both go together, in harmony.”

He closed his appeal by asking for prayers for Christians “facing new bioethical challenges; may they continue to defend the dignity of all human life with prayer and action.”

Pope Francis’ prayer video was promoted by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, which raises awareness of monthly papal prayer intentions.

Father Frédéric Fornos, S.J., the network’s international director, said: “Pope Francis always insists on the need for greater discernment regarding the challenges of bioethics, on the need to respect human life and in no way seek one’s own interests following the logic of the market, which knows no limits.”

“These are necessary criteria for discernment which help us to leave behind a throwaway culture and which promote integral respect for human life — the entire extent of human life, from birth to death. Let us pray that, in the face of the new challenges of bioethics, we may always promote the defense of life through prayer and social action.”