MELBOURNE, Australia ( - The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne on Wednesday called for all people to pray for each of the hundreds of frozen, unborn children being destroyed at in vitro fertilization clinics under a state law that went into effect on Monday.

      Father Christopher Prowse, archdiocesan spokesman, called the embryonic children "the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters" and added: "We in the Catholic Church say they should be offered religious and human respect as they die." He also called for prayer to end what is seen as a social decline that has led to establishment of IVF clinics and the destruction of embryos more than five years old.

      Under the Infertility Treatment Act, 1995, the embryos are to be removed from their liquid nitrogen baths and allowed to stand at room temperature for at least 24 hours before being disposed of. Under the legislation, the embryos were to be destroyed starting on January 1, but a three-month extension was granted for prospective parents to come forward.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT:To subscribe to Catholic World News Service, available daily by e-mail, click here .

April 2, 1998 volume 9, no. 66         DAILY CATHOLIC