Italy Scientist Wants Excommunication Over Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 30, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Italy Scientist Wants Excommunication Over Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 30, 2006

Rome Italy ( — An Italian cloning scientist wants to be the first excommunicated from the Catholic Church for engaging in embryonic stem cell research. A leading Vatican official said earlier this week that the church would begin excommunicating members who facilitated the research because it involves the destruction of human life.

Professor Cesare Galli of the Laboratory of Reproductive Technologies in Cremona, the first scientist to clone a horse, condemned the Catholic Church’s position. He likened the church to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"I can bear excommunication. I was raised as a Catholic, I share Catholic values, but I am able to make my own judgment on some issues and I do not need to be told by the church what to do or to think," Galli told the London Telegraph newspaper.

"I will be, together with Elena Cattaneo [a scientist working in the University of Milan] the first to be affected by the excommunication," Professor Galli said.

Earlier, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told the Famiglia Christiana, an official Vatican publication, "Destroying human embryos is equivalent to an abortion. It is the same thing."

"Excommunication will be applied to the women, doctors and researchers who eliminate embryos [and to the] politicians that approve the law," the cardinal said in an interview.

Galli and his team created the first cloned horse, a European breed called Halflinger. Scientists in Idaho were the first to clone a mule.

Scientists at Italy’s Laboratory of Reproductive Technology created the horse using a standard cloning procedure where DNA is removed from an egg, and the DNA from the animal to be cloned is inserted. The egg is then coaxed to start growing and then inserted into a surrogate mother.