Catholic Church to Excommunicate Scientists in Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 28, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Church to Excommunicate Scientists in Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 28, 2006

The Vatican ( — The Catholic Church restated its opposition to embryonic stem cell research on Wednesday saying it plans to excommunicate scientists who conduct it because it involves the destruction of human life. Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo made the comments to an Italain Christian magazine.

Trujillo, head of the Vatican department dealing with family affairs, said the church believes embryonic stem cell research is as bad as abortion.

Cardinal Trujillo told Catholic publication Famiglia Cristiana that "destroying human embryos is equivalent to an abortion … it’s the same thing."

He said the church is worried that "certain crimes" are being treated as if they had "become rights." Trujillo also said the Catholic Church is concerned that international groups and some countries are regarding the speaking out against abortion and embryonic stem cell research as a crime or against women.

"[E]ven talking about the defense of life and family rights is being treated as a sort of crime against the state in some countries — a form of social disobedience or discrimination against women," he explained.

Elaborating on the excommunication, he said the warning "applies to all women, doctors and researchers who eliminate embryos."

Pope Benedict XVI issued a strong condemnation of embryonic stem cell research at a mass at a local church in the Vatican in February. He said people wrongly believe that they are the master of life when life depends on God.
"Man is not the owner of life, but the custodian and caretaker," he explained, adding that there are two schools of thought on how to value human life.

"One maintains that human life is in the hands of man, and the other recognizes that it is in God’s hands," he said. The other, based on Christian views, respects human life and human rights.

"When God is not present, man is not respected," the pontiff explained.