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US bishops react to Bush betrayal on embryo research

Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued a statement of regret criticising President George W. Bush's announcement of support for research that "relies on the destruction of some defenseless human beings for the possible benefit to others".

Conceding that Bush's decision was technically in support of a ban on human cloning, Bishop Fiorenza said the decision is "hedged about with qualifications" and therefore "allows our nation's research enterprise to cultivate a disrespect for human life".

He also suggested that Bush's decision could be "as unworkable as it is morally wrong", given that researchers who want to pursue embryonic research say that the limits Bush is putting on the researach "will interfere with efforts to turn embryonic stem cell research into possible medical treatments."

Bishop Fiorenza finally asserted the US bishops' hope that Bush "will return to a principled stand against treating some human lives as nothing more than objects to be manipulated and destroyed for research purposes".

He said: "As we face a new century of powerful and sometimes even frightening advances in biotechnology, we must help ensure that our technical advances will serve rather than demean our very humanity."