Bishop Barron Echoes Pope Francis’ Condemnation of Surrogacy: A Call for the Dignity of Women and Children

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a reflection supporting the recent remarks of Pope Francis, Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, recently offered a strong critique of surrogacy, emphasizing its detrimental impact on women and children’s dignity.

Pope Francis, in his address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, labeled surrogacy as “a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child.” He stressed that a child should never be the basis of a commercial contract, as it commodifies both women and children, reducing them to mere objects in a transactional process.

The Pope’s sentiments were echoed by Bishop Barron, who furthered the discussion by highlighting the problematic belief that having a child is a right. This perspective, he argued, leads to the child being viewed as an object for fulfilling desires, rather than as a person to be cherished. This viewpoint also overlooks the legitimate right of the child to be conceived through the love of their parents, in favor of the notion of “the right to have a child by any means necessary.”

Bishop Barron urged avoidance of this mindset, calling instead for respect for human life, beginning with the unborn child. He acknowledged the pain of couples who earnestly wish for biological children but face challenging or life-threatening medical obstacles that make childbirth hazardous or impossible.

For these couples, the Church offers a compassionate response. The Church teaches that married couples are not obliged to have children, but rather to be open to life that might result from their union. The desire to use surrogacy might mirror the natural desire to form a family, but regardless of intentions, surrogacy, according to Bishop Barron, inevitably results in grave injustice. This injustice extends not just to the child, but also to any discarded embryos, who are fellow human beings, the commodified birth mother, and the loving union of the spouses.

The implications of these perspectives extend beyond religious circles. They touch on broader societal debates about reproductive rights, the commodification of human life, and the ethical dimensions of assisted reproductive technologies. By engaging in this conversation, figures like Pope Francis and Bishop Barron contribute to a nuanced dialogue that challenges us all to consider the impact of our choices on the most vulnerable among us. As society continues to grapple with these complex issues, the voices of religious leaders offer critical perspectives that underscore the inherent dignity of every human life.

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