Vatican official denounces Korean cloning breakthrough

The president of the Pontifical Academy for Life has strongly condemned the production of cloned human embryos by scientists in South Korea.

Catholic World News reports that Bishop Elio Sgreccia told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that the advance trumpeted by researchers at the National University of South Korea were "abominable", since they had created human embryos solely to be destroyed and harvested for stem cells.

The Korean scientists announced that they had produced 31 embryos, direct clones of 11 living persons, in their laboratories. These human embryos were produced using a technique similar to that used by the scientists who produced the lamb named Dolly, the first cloned mammal, in England nine years ago.

The cloned embryos are to be used for the production of stem cells, which could be used in fighting diseases. Bishop Sgreccia emphasised, however, that the Korean scientists were engaged in the technique known as "therapeutic cloning." In that process, he stressed, any possible medical benefit "follows the suppression of one or more embryos."

"The suppression of a human being can merit only one judgment: it is unacceptable," the Italian prelate said. "To destroy one life in order to save another remains an aberration."

Bishop Sgreccia also reminded the press that scientists have demonstrated their ability to use stem cells taken from adult tissue-- with no negative moral implications-- to produce real medical benefits. Cells can be obtained from umbilical cords, or from adult bone marrow, and used for therapeutic purposes; whereas no benefit has yet been derived from embryonic stem cells. Thus the immorality of "therapeutic cloning" research is compounded by the fact that it has not shown any medical benefit.

On 8 March of this year, the UN adopted a policy that prohibits all forms of human cloning, including "therapeutic" cloning for research purposes.

Vatican prelate denounces Korean cloning breakthrough (Catholic World News 20/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pontifical Academy for Life

Stem-cell research surges ahead of lawmakers (Christian Science Monitor 20/5/05)
Stem cells tailored to patients (BBC 20/5/05)
Human embryo cloned for first time in Britain (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo 19/5/05)
Stem cell research breaks new ground (ABC Radio The World Today 20/5/05)
Korean cloning experiment raises ethical concerns (Independent Catholic News 20/5/05)
Catholics disagree with stem cell breakthrough (New Zealand Herald/NewstalkZB 22/5/05)
U.S. Bill to Fund Work on New Cell Lines Is Assailed (Zenit 19/5/05)
Stem Cell Options (Zenit 21/5/05)

23 May 2005