Pope Calls For Global Ban On Surrogacy

"A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract."
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 08: (EDITOR NOTE: STRICTLY EDITORIAL USE ONLY - NO MERCHANDISING) Pope Francis holds his speech during “State of the World” address to members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See at the Apostolic Palace on January 08, 2024 in Vatican City, Vatican. In his annual “State of the World” address to members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis reflected on the conflicts and divisions ravaging the world and highlights the responsibility of individuals and nations to foster peace. (Photo by Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)
Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Pope Francis on Monday condemned the practice of using a surrogate mother to birth a child and called for a global ban on the practice.

The pope called surrogacy “despicable” during an annual foreign policy address to ambassadors of 184 countries.

“I consider despicable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child,” Francis said.

The pope said surrogacy exploits the surrogate mother’s financial situation and said an unborn child must not be “turned into an object of trafficking.”

He called for a global ban “to prohibit this practice universally.”

“A child is always a gift and never the basis of a commercial contract,” Francis said.

The Catholic Church prohibits couples from using a surrogate mother and teaches that conception must only occur through the marital act between husband and wife.

This is not the first time Francis has explicitly condemned surrogacy.

In 2022, he condemned the “inhumane and increasingly widespread practice” of a “uterus for rent,” saying it is almost always poor women who are exploited in this way and the unborn children are “treated as commodities.”

Surrogacy is legal in the U.S. but illegal in several other countries, including Spain and Italy.

The surrogacy process is an expensive one, in many cases costing upwards of $100,000, making it prohibitively expensive for many families. The idea of becoming a commercial surrogate is attractive to some low-income women.

American celebrities, including Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen, Nick Jonas, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Jimmy Fallon, have all hired surrogates to carry and birth their babies.

In 2022, the global commercial surrogacy industry was estimated to be worth more than $14 billion, according to Global Market Insights.

The pope’s annual address to the countries with diplomatic relations with the Vatican, sometimes called his “State of the World” address, provides the pontiff with the opportunity to speak about the world’s current conflicts and injustices.


Francis took that opportunity during his remarks Monday, naming several ongoing issues, including the “large-scale war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine,” a more pointed comment on Russia’s role in the conflict than he usually offers.

The pope also discussed the Israel-Hamas war, the immigration crisis, climate change, artificial intelligence, Christian persecution, and antisemitism, among other issues.

He lamented that the new year comes at a time when peace is “increasingly threatened, weakened and in some part lost.”

“We must not forget that grave violations of international humanitarian law are war crimes,” Francis said.

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