NEWS for Friday, August 25, 2000
HOLY SEE PUBLISHES DOCUMENT ON EMBRYO EXPERIMENTATION
Labels Clinton Administration's Decision "Hypocrisy"
VATICAN CITY, AUGUST 24 (ZENIT.org)
A few hours after the U.S.
government announced the decision to allocate public funds to human
embryo experimentation, the Pontifical Academy for Life published a
document defining this research as unacceptable from the ethical point
of view, as it does not consider the embryo as "a human being who must
be respected and treated as a person." After all, the first right of a
person is the right to life.
In particular, the document of this Vatican institution confirms that
the production of human embryos and their eventual destruction to obtain
stem cells, which have the potential to become almost any human tissue,
can never be morally acceptable because no end, no matter how attractive
from the scientific point of view, can justify the elimination of a
But the document does not stop with outright condemnation. It is
extraordinarily positive and states, as a scientifically proven fact,
the possibility of using adult stem cells to obtain the same medical
objectives. This way is indicated as being genuinely respectful of human
dignity and, therefore, as the most appropriate to benefit from the
great promises of scientific research in this area.
Speaking on Vatican Radio, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice-president of the
Pontifical Academy for Life, said that the Clinton Administration's
decision to fund experimentation on human embryos is due to "the
pressures of industry, which hopes to commercialize the human material,
even though there already is promising research to obtain the same
results through the use of stem cells present in the adult organism --
they can be extracted from blood or the umbilical cord. There are
serious research projects in this connection, which are supported by
scientific magazines. The question then arises: Why not encourage
research in this direction? Why not support research that respects human
life from its beginning?"
-- Vatican Radio: Those who support the Clinton Administration's
decision believe these experiments could be the solution to serious
illnesses. They make extraordinary promises to those who suffer...
-- Bishop Sgreccia: You cannot use the end to justify the means! We know
that morality requires us to seek appropriate ends through appropriate
means. On the contrary, if the human being is used as a means to reach
ends -- even if they seem to be noble -- possibilities would open that
history has already condemned. Moreover, we must consider that these
ends can be reached through other means, even though they are more
expensive and compromising. This makes us understand clearly that there
are commercial ends, and that money is the real reason, not human
health. If human health can be obtained by other means, why aren't these
-- Vatican Radio: In any event, the normative foreseen by the United
States will maintain the prohibition against financing operations to
destroy human embryos with public funds.
-- That is hypocrisy! When frozen embryos are taken, they are being
destroyed to carry out this research. These are really human embryos.
There is an effort to make it appear as though embryos that are the
stored and frozen fruit of artificial fertilization are not human
embryos and, therefore, do not need to be treated like human beings.
The Church considers it a crime to freeze living beings, which are the
result of techniques of human procreation. To use them as the object of
research and then destroy them cannot be a matter of indifference.
-- Vatican Radio: Today, the Pontifical Academy for Life, of which you
are vice-president, has given guidelines on this matter, but the world
seems to be going another way.
-- Bishop Sgreccia: Undoubtedly, so-called "freedom of research" seems
to prevail, which deep down is no more than freedom from ethics, that
is, freedom from any ethical value. As in other fields, the prevailing
current is the principle of utility over unconditional respect for the
human being. The fact that this is a reality should not discourage us,
but rather motivate us to adopt a clear and simple position. History
reminds us about who spoke out and those who remained silent and did
nothing. Behind these proposals are financial interests and the
unrestricted use of the human being, the implicit admission that the
embryo is not a human being worthy of respect. We cannot remain silent
on this point, even if we are only a small minority!
We encourage you to check the Catholic World News site at the
CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and the Dossiers, features and Daily Dispatches from ZENIT International News Agency CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC, but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.