VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI gave President Barack Obama a surprise gift this evening: a copy of the Vatican’s document on bioethics and human dignity, which was published in December.
The document, “Dignitas Personae” (“The Dignity of a Person”), was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Strangely enough, about four hours before Obama arrived, I was in the Vatican bookstore. While I was trying to pay, the cashier was interrupted by a phone call and she made me wait while she went to the shelves. She pulled the last two English copies of the document off the shelf and put them on her desk.
Msgr. Georg Ganswein, the pope’s personal secretary, told reporters the document would help Obama understand the church’s reasoning behind its efforts to protect human life at every stage of its development.