by Steven Ertelt
November 25, 2005
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — Missouri Catholics this Sunday will hear homilies against embryonic stem cell research as a petition campaign to support the destructive and unproven experiments begins to take shape.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Catholic Church is using the sermons to launch its educational effort to persuade Catholics not to sign the petition and to show them that the church values life starting at conception.
In October, the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, which includes researchers, lawmakers and business groups, announced the petition drive. Now, petition supporters have until May 9 to collect 145,000 valid signatures in favor of the research, which relies on the destruction of human life.
The group has already begun airing television commercials designed to raise awareness and gather signatures.
Catholic groups are the only ones opposed to the research and the petition. IN June, the editor of the newsletter for the Missouri Baptist Convention called embryonic stem cell research "highly speculative and dangerous" and "the greatest moral issue facing Missourians since the state ratified the 13th and 14th Amendments abolishing slavery."
The Catholic Conference, earlier this month, headed by Missouri’s four bishops, decided to launch the educational campaign. They decided to direct priests to read the special homily in churches this Sunday.
John Leibrecht, bishop of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese, said the effort was needed to combat the big money interests that support the research.
"Without an understanding of the true nature of the ‘Initiative,’ Catholic voters may be inclined to sign the petition," St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke wrote November 10th, according to the Associated Press. " In order to avoid Catholic voters succumbing to the false promises and statements made by this initiative’s proponents, it is important that voters in our parishes receive appropriate scientific, moral and ethical information."
The bishops also asked each church to hold an educational event for more information.
"The whole purpose is to educate the public that this coalition wants to amend our constitution to give free rein to do whatever scientists want to do with our embryos," Molly Kertz, director of the St. Louis archdiocese’s Respect Life outreach, told AP.
If promoters get enough Missouri residents to sign on, the proposal will make it to the November 2006 ballot.