Catholic Church Not Opposed to All Stem Cell Research, Priest Says

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 18, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Church Not Opposed to All Stem Cell Research, Priest Says Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 18
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — A leading priest who monitors bioethics issues says the public has gotten the misconception that the Catholic Church opposes all types of stem cell research. As the 2006 elections heat up, pro-life candidates have faced the same criticism as attack ads fail to distinguish between embryonic stem cell research and adult.

Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, spokes about the distorted view the public has in a talk entitled "Cutting Through the Spin of Stem Cells and Cloning."

"It is incorrect to say that the Roman Catholic Church is against stem-cell research," he said, according to a Canadian Catholic News Service report. "It is only correct to say the Roman Catholic Church is against embryonic stem-cell research."

"The ethical concerns differ with the source of the stem cells, because you do have to destroy an early and vulnerable human to get embryonic cells," he explained.

Pacholczyk explained that the Catholic Church supports adult stem cell research, which is the only type of stem cell study that resulted in treatments for patients.

He said the Catholic church doesn’t have problems with adult stem cell research because the cells can’t be used to produce a unique human being who could be killed in the process.

According to the CCNS report, Pacholczyk showed a video of late actor Christopher Reeve who says embryonic stem cell research has the potential to cure 100 million diseases.

"One hundred million is just a tabulation of all the sick people in the United States," he said. "We have to cut through that number to get to the truth. We have to discern between truth and the hype."

He also said that numerous scientists have indicated the potential for embryonic stem cell research has been exaggerated while the use of adult stem cells has been undersold.

We stand on the cusp of a whole new line of possibilities for adult stem cells," said Father Pacholczyk. "Adult stem-cell research is already curing diseases, whereas fetal stem-cells have not cured any."
"There needs to be honesty in advertising, and there hasn’t been," he said. "We need an ordered and dispassionate assessment of the good and the bad."

The CCNS report said Father Pacholczyk encouraged Catholics to be more involved in the stem cell research debate.

"We Catholics need to be present in the public square as these debates are occurring so our viewpoint is not excluded," he explained.

The debate is already moving into the political arena as a Democratic-oriented political organization is under fire for running misleading attack ads against pro-life Congressional lawmakers seeking re-election.

The ads seek to paint the pro-life candidates as against helping patients because they voted against forcing taxpayer to pay for unproven embryonic stem cell research. The Washington-based Majority Action has run the ads in at least two Congressional districts.