Vatican City - The awarding Monday of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to British researcher Robert Edwards, the pioneer of in- vitro fertilization (IVF), is "completely out of place," the Vatican's top ethics official said.
The president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, made the remarks in an interview with the ANSA news agency.
He also strongly criticized IVF - when human egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside a woman's womb - reiterating Catholic Church teachings on procreation.
Edwards' research was responsible for "the trade" in egg cells, Carrasco de Paula was quoted as saying.
He also denounced "the great number of frozen embryos around the world, which at best are waiting to be transferred to wombs but that will most probably end up being abandoned or dying."
The practice of IVF is the source of "the current confusion around assisted procreation with incomprehensible situations like children born from grandmothers and mothers 'for hire'" Carrasco de Paula added.
In a 1987 document issued by the Vatican's top doctrine watchdog body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the current Pope Benedict XVI - IVF was declared morally wrong because it replaces the "natural" sexual union between husband and wife.
The document, titled Donum Vitae (Gift of Life), also condemned the practice because it often results in the destruction of some embryos - a violation of human life, which the church identifies as such from conception.