THE ONTIC STATUS OF THE HUMAN EMBRYO

Jacek Salij

Jacek Salij

Jacek Salij (1942-), a Dominican Professor and great Personalist, Chairman of Systematic Theology at the University of Cardinal Stephen Wyszyński in Warsaw, Poland; a member of PEN-Club.

Fr. Salij was born on August 19, 1942 in Budy, Wołyń. In 1960- 1967 he studied theology in the Philosophical and Theological College of Dominicans in Kraków, Poland then in Warsaw and in 1984 he pursued his studies at the Catholic University in Louvain (Belgium). He was ordained to the priesthood on December 25, 1966.

Fr. Prof. Salij is the author of numerous books, including: Szukającym drogi (Poznań 1982); Miłujcie nieprzyjacioły wasze. Miłość nieprzyjaciół w Polsce (1983); Nasze czasy są OK (Lublin 1997); Świętowanie Pana Boga (Kraków 2001).

You are to conceive in your womb and bear a Son (Lk 1:31).

Let us begin by making a brief remark on the subject of the moment of conception of a new human being. Defining this moment accurately is as hard as defining precisely the moment of death. Is the moment of fertilisation of the ovum a beginning of a new human being? An only just fertilised ovum is not a part of either the mother’s or the father’s organism, and yet, at the same time, it can divide in the very early stage of embryonic development (in the cleavage stadium) into two separate organisms (monozygotic twins). A new human being therefore begins its existence in the moment when the fertilised ovum acquires not only its “otherness” in relation to the parent organisms (own genetic material), but also its indivisibility (separateness) as a biological unit. Therefore, the moment of conception is not identified with the moment of fertilisation itself, just like the moment of death cannot be identified with the heart stopping to beat.

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