Pell slams "pro-cloners"

"Pro-cloners put scientific or commercial curiosity ahead of human life", Cardinal George Pell said yesterday, adding that that proposed new therapeutic cloning laws are an "affront to human dignity".

Cardinal Pell yesterday told The Australian that cloning was philosophically unsustainable and put scientific or commercial curiosity ahead of human life.

"We pray that parliament will make a decision based on universal ethics, not on populist rhetoric," Cardinal Pell said.

Cardinal Pell made his comments after a survey of senators published yesterday by The Australian suggested a private member's bill that would lift a ban on cloning was likely to be passed when it is debated in the Senate next week.

It also came as doctors opposing cloning completed plans for a $100,000 advertising campaign beginning in today's newspapers.

Therapeutic cloning occurs when a scientist injects adult genetic material into a human or animal egg that has been stripped of its nucleus.

Researchers would allow the resulting embryo to grow for up to 14 days and harvest its stem cells for research.

While supporters believe the technique could lead to major developments in the war against disease, Cardinal Pell said all Christians, not just Catholics, held the protection of innocent life as a basic human value and an issue of justice.

"No theology is necessary to hold this view," Cardinal Pell said. "This view is certainly compatible with Catholic faith but is based on natural law - broad ethical principles accessible to everyone - which place the protection of human life above the casual or commercial curiosity of scientists."

Cardinal Pell said the protection of human life in medical research was enforced every day, citing complex consent mechanisms required for proposed human drug trials.

But he said pro-cloners seemed to believe such principles should be suspended because of the possible research benefits stemming from cloning.

And they asserted that that purpose for which a human embryo was created - either for reproduction or research - somehow altered its human dignity.

Catholic Health Australia CEO, Francis Sullivan, also backed Cardinal Pell's comments on the cloning bill, saying that "parliamentarians will struggle to find a convincing case to expand the licence in embryo experimentation or to justify legalised human cloning."

Critising the Senate Community Affairs Committee's report into cloning and experimentation on human embryos, Mr Sullivan said that the report "demonstrates that the scientific community is far from settled on even the need to clone embryos".

"It also reveals that the ethics adopted by pro-cloning groups is too narrow to accommodate the general unease in the community over human cloning."

"Strangely, parliamentarians are being asked to vote on an issue which few fully understand and even less have demonstrated a willingness to engage," he said.

Cloning an affront to human dignity: Pell (The Australian, 2/11/06)
Catholic Health Care (Media Release, 1/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Health Australia
Archbishop George Pell (Archdiocese of Sydney)

No cloning cures for Catholics, says Bishop Fisher (CathNews, 23/10/06)
Bishops step up campaign against cloning (CathNews, 20/10/06)
Proponents of therapeutic cloning should cool it: Pell (CathNews, 25/8/06)
Catholic groups reject claims of stem cells breakthrough (CathNews, 24/8/06)
Poll shows Australians against cloning, Campion Director says (CathNews, 22/8/06)
Abbott lashes "evangelical" stem cell scientists (CathNews, 21/8/06)
Catholic parliamentarians in firing line again over stem cells (CathNews, 16/8/06)
Catholic union official compares therapeutic cloning to Nazi experiments (CathNews, 4/8/06)
Premiers face stem cell backlash as Hart criticises debate (CathNews, 24/7/06)
Catholics divided over stem cells (CathNews, 14/7/06)

2 Nov 2006