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Pope sees medical ethics clashing with Catholic morality

The Pope told a group of gynecologists and obstetricians on Monday that medical ethics are increasingly clashing with Roman Catholic morality.

He urged respect for doctors who object to procedures or treatments for religious reasons.

"Until quite recently, medical ethics in general and Catholic morality were rarely in disagreement," the Holy Father told the group. "Without problems of conscience, Catholic doctors could generally offer patients all that medical science afforded."

"But this has now changed profoundly," the Pope said. He cited a number of scientific developments that concern the church, including drugs that cause abortion or prevent conception, in vitro fertilisation, the use of embryonic stem cells in transplants, and cloning projects.

"The conflict between social pressure and the demands of right conscience can lead to the dilemma either of abandoning the medical profession or of compromising one's conviction," John Paul said.

"Faced with that tension, we must remember that there is a middle path which opens up before Catholic health workers who are faithful to their conscience," he said. "It is the path of conscientious objection, which ought to be respected by all, especially legislators."

Click here to read the text of the Pope's speech.