Monday, September 18, 2006

Stem Cell Research

Saturday morning at Castelgandolfo, the Pope received participants in a congress being promoted by the Pontifical Academy for Life and by the International Federation of Catholic Doctors' Associations, which is meeting to consider the theme: "Stem cells, what future for therapy?"

Benedict XVI began his remarks by observing how "research into somatic stem cells merits approval and encouragement when it brings together scientific knowledge, the most advanced technology in the field of biology, and the ethic that postulates respect for human beings at every stage of their existence." In this context, he mentioned the promising horizons being opened in the cure of illnesses involving "the degeneration of tissues with consequent risks of invalidity and death for those affected."

The Holy Father encouraged those working in Catholic-inspired scientific institutions to increase research in this field and "to establish closer contact among themselves and with others who seek, using appropriate methods, to relieve human suffering.

"In the face of the frequent and unjust accusations of insensitivity directed against the Church," he added, "I would like to underline the constant support she has given over the course of her two thousand-year history to research aimed at the cure of illnesses and at the good of humanity. If there has been - and there still is - resistance, it was and is against those forms of research that involve the planned suppression of human beings who are already alive, though they may not yet have been born."

The Pope then highlighted how history "has condemned such science in the past, and will condemn it in the future, not only because it is devoid of the light of God, but also because it is devoid of humanity."

"In the face of the direct suppression of human beings," he continued, "there can be no compromise or prevarication; it is inconceivable for a society to fight crime effectively when it itself legalizes crime in the field of nascent life."

The fact that the congress has expressed commitment to and hope of "achieving new therapeutic results by using cells from the adult body without having to suppress newly-conceived human beings, and the fact that your work is being rewarded with results, confirm the validity of the Church's constant call for full respect for human beings from the moment of conception. ... A good end," he concluded, "can never justify intrinsically illicit means."


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