The Sydney Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, has opened a new front in the moral debate over the sanctity of embryonic life, saying the church would renew its push for a ban on the use of leftover embryos created during fertility treatment.
Australian laws permitting the use of excess embryos created through IVF before April 2002 are up for review this year, with a sunset clause expiring in April.
However, the Sydney Archdiocese is expected to at least double its overall contribution to adult stem cell research in the hope it will offer an ethical and more promising alternative to research on human embryos.
A first grant of $50,000 was awarded in 2003 to Griffith University to research the potential of stem cells extracted from the inner lining of a patient’s own nose to treat Parkinson’s disease.
Applications for a second medical research grant of at least $50,000 were expected to be called for shortly.
Cardinal Pell said he would be prepared to involve himself in lobbying efforts, if necessary, to bring about a national ban on embryonic stem cell research.
While scientists hope stem cells – the building blocks of all types of tissue – will provide future breakthrough treatments for diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson’s, pro-lifers oppose the use of embryos because they are destroyed in the process.
"I think Christian leaders have a duty to speak out on some moral issues and this is one," Cardinal Pell said. [Source]
This is an excellent tactical approach the Cardinal has taken. To not only condemn ESCR but to help to fund adult stem-cell research. This helps more people to see the difference between the two and to keep others from framing the debate in that the Church is against science.
"If I thought it would help I would be prepared to speak. We are not in favour of producing human beings to destroy them for scientific purposes.
"Human life is not a commodity. Life is a right in itself and it has to be respected and we’ve got no right to destroy innocent life."