Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

Do you think a researcher who has come up with a new life form should be able to patent it?

Yes, but with a reservation. Our Church believes that when science discovers new resources to alleviate suffering it reveals the ingenuity of the human mind in research and offers great hope to all who are afflicted by sickness. At his General Audience on December 16, 2006, Pope Benedict said that : "Progress becomes true progress only if it serves the human person, not only in terms of technical power, but also in moral awareness".

In other comments he has stated that research is acceptable as long as it combines the most advanced biological scientific technology and ethics that respect human life at every stage of its existence. This research is captivating, for it gives a glimpse of possible cures of degenerative tissue diseases that can eventually threaten people with disability and even death.

Here is the reservation: we would oppose any forms of research that involve the planned suppression of human beings who already exist, especially if they have not yet been born. This research is not truly at the service of humanity. In fact, it advances through the suppression of human lives that are equal in dignity to the lives of other human individuals. Here we lack the light of God and humanity. No one can dispose of human life. The human being is not a disposable object, but every single individual represents God's presence in the world (cf. J. Ratzinger, God and the World, Ignatius Press, 2002).

In the face of the actual suppression of the human being there can be no compromises. The Church constantly invites us to the full respect of persons from conception to natural death. No good can ever justify intrinsically unlawful means. We pray always, however, that God will bring great success to the search for remedies to all forms of human suffering.