Our Mission

The Donum Vitae Institute originated in response to the invitation issued to theologians and ethicists in the Conclusion of the 1987 Magisterial document Donum Vitae, which states:

“In particular, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addresses an invitation with confidence and encouragement to theologians and above all to all moralists, that they study more deeply and make ever more accessible to the faithful the contents and teaching of the Church’s Magisterium in light of a valid anthropology in the matter of sexuality and marriage. . .”[1]

This document reaffirms the consistent Magisterial teaching on the sacred dignity of the human person from the first instant of conception, as well as considers the moral status of technological interventions on human procreation.

While recognizing the value of science and technology in alleviating human suffering, Donum Vitae reaffirms the understanding that the proper role of such technology exists only in its capacity to serve the human person:

“Thus, science and technology require for their own intrinsic meaning, an unconditional respect for the fundamental criteria of the moral law: that is to say, they must be at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights and his true and integral good according to the design and will of God.” [2]

Above all, Donum Vitae reiterates and affirms the Church’s consistent teaching regarding the absolute infrangible dignity of nascent human life:

“At the Second Vatican Council, the Church for her part presented once again to modern man her constant and certain doctrine according to which: “Life once conceived, must be protected with the utmost care (Gaudium et Spes, 51) . . . .” [3]

The Church is unequivocal in its teaching regarding the inviolable sanctity of human life from the first moment of conception:

“The fruit of human generation, from the first moment of its existence, that is to say from the moment the zygote has formed, demands the unconditional respect that is morally due to the human being in his bodily and spiritual totality. The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception. . . .”[4]

Regarding the absolute sanctity of embryonic human life, the Magisterium states in Section I of Donum Vitae: “since the embryo must be treated as a person, it must also be defended in its integrity, tended and cared for, to the extent possible, in the same way as any other human being as far as medical assistance is concerned.” [5]

The Donum Vitae Institute therefore exists to promulgate the Magisterial teaching regarding the absolute and inviolable dignity of every nascent human life from the moment of its conception. Through research, scholarship, consultation, advocacy, policy formation, and prayer, the Donum Vitae Institute promotes the sanctity of the human person in its most vulnerable state.


[1] Donum Vitae, (Instruction on Respect for Life in its Origin and the Dignity of Procreation), Issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, given in Rome on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, 22 Feb 1987, by the Prefect, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, during a Papal audience, at which time the document was approved and ordered published by the Supreme Pontiff, Pope St. John Paul II.

[2] Donum Vitae, Chapter 2, ¶ 2.

[3] Donum Vitae, Part 1, § 1, ¶ 2.

[4] Donum Vitae, Part 1, § 1, ¶ 5.

[5] Donum Vitae, Part 1, § 1, ¶ 7.