The pope has called for the 'international community to prohibit' surrogacy, and said it violates the dignity of the woman and child and leads to the exploitation of poor women.
Pope Francis made the comments to an audience of international diplomats and ambassadors to the Holy See, which governs the Vatican City, Rome, Italy, as part of a foreign policy address on 8 January 2024. He also said climate change and ongoing wars in Ukraine and Gaza undermined human dignity, as he called on different countries to commit to dialogue in pursuit of peace.
'The path to peace calls for respect for life, for every human life, starting with the life of the unborn child in the mother's womb, which cannot be suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking. In this regard, I deem deplorable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother's material needs,' Pope Francis said in his address.
'A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract. Consequently, I express my hope for an effort by the international community to prohibit this practice universally.'
He went on to criticise gender ideology, which 'cancels differences in its claim to make everyone equal' and said 'ideological colonisation' creates divisions between states rather than fostering peace.
It is not the first time that Pope Francis has voiced opposition to surrogacy on the grounds of risk of exploitation of the mother and commoditisation of the child, calling it 'rented uterus' in 2022, according to Vatican News. This language has also been used by Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni who described surrogacy as an 'inhumane practice' before extending the surrogacy ban in Italy, to include use of international surrogacy, in July 2023 (see BioNews 1200).
The address does not amount to doctrine, and Pope Francis signed documents in October 2023 confirming that children born via surrogacy to same-sex parents can be baptised Roman Catholic, as can individuals who have undergone gender reassignment.