by Steven Ertelt
June 27, 2007
The Vatican (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life advocates are frequently accused of opposing all forms of stem cell research even though they only take issue with the embryonic variation. Pope Benedict XVI took issue with that claim and reiterated the Catholic Church’s support for stem cell research that doesn’t involve the destruction of human life.
His comments were directed to those taking part in a conference at Rome’s La Sapienza University who have used adult stem cells to treat heart diseases.
"Scientific research should be rightly encouraged and promoted as long as it doesn’t hurt human beings whose dignity is inviolable from the very first stages of existence,” the pontiff said.
He said the Church’s position on the issue of stem cell research is "clear" and should be regarded as similar to the position against abortion. Both involve the destruction of unborn children before birth and both violate the Catholic teaching that human life begins at conception.
"On this matter the position of the Church, supported by reason and by science, is clear," he said.
Pope Benedict has followed the same teachings as Pope John Paul II, who outlined the Catholic Church’s position in the 1995 encyclical "The Gospel of Life" that was published before stem cell research became such a hot debate topic.
"Human embryos obtained in vitro are human beings and are subjects with rights; their dignity and right to life must be respected from the first moment of their existence," John Paul wrote. "It is immoral to produce human embryos destined to be exploited as disposable ‘biological material.’"
Pro-life groups join the Church in supporting the use of adult stem cells which can be isolated from tissue samples taken from adults or other sources and, unlike embryonic stem cells, they are already being used to tackle a number of diseases.