Bishops welcome ethical stem cell research breakthrough

Australia's Catholic Bishops have welcomed the discovery by scientists that potent stem cells from human skin, that should signal an end to the destruction of human embryos for research.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Philip Wilson said the discovery offers a "huge potential for curing a range of serious diseases".

"Together with the excellent work being done with adult stem cells from the nose, this work clearly points to a way forward which is both ethical and scientifically promising," Archbishop Wilson said

"I hope legislators around Australia take note of the breakthrough and put a halt to any further laws allowing human cloning or the destruction of human life for stem cell research."

Archbishop Wilson added that it is regretful the Australian Parliament "rushed to allow such research when more effective and more ethical means were just around the corner."

The Archdiocese of Sydney's spokesperson Bishop Anthony Fisher said the breakthrough is important as it provides stem cells which have "all the desirable properties of embryonic stem cells, but none of the ethical problems."

"Human embryos would not have to be created and then destroyed to obtain these stem cells," Bishop Fisher said.

"In addition, the need for human eggs and the risks associated with harvesting them from women would be avoided.

"This alleviates key ethical concerns about the exploitation of embryonic human beings and women."

The Australian Catholic Students Association has also welcomed the discovery, and called on South Australia's politicians to vote against the upcoming Human Cloning debate.

Ruth Russell, ACSA's National Secretary said the right to life is the most "fundamental of all rights and should never be challenged."

This week's Catholic Weekly has published a comment from Australians for Ethical Stem Cell Research, an association of doctors and scientists promoting stem cell science but opposing cloning. The group has praised "father of cloning" Ian Wilmut, for abandoning the quest for human cloning in the light of this latest dicovery.

National director Dr David van Gend said: "Now, the only remaining uses for cloning are in fact abuses - the live birth experiments and fetus farming proposed by radical scientists elsewhere in the world.

"We call on both Mr Howard and Mr Rudd to commit to revisiting the question of cloning at their first COAG meeting as Prime Minister."

Catholic Church welcomes breakthrough in ethical stem cell research (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 21/11/07)
Australian youth welcome new stem cell breakthrough "Cloning not needed" says student body (Australian Catholic Students Association 21/11/07)
Cloning made redundant in research turnaround (Catholic Weekly 25/11/07)
Church welcomes ethical stem-cell breakthrough (Archdiocese of Sydney 21/11/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Arcdiocese of Sydney
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
Australians for Ethical Stem Cell Research
Australian Catholic Students Association

Pell slams "open slather" for stem cell research (CathNews, 05/06/07)
Catholics divided over stem cells (CathNews, 14/07/06)
Catholic groups reject claims of stem cells breakthrough (CathNews, 05/08/06)
Hobart Archbishop urges Upper House to reject cloning bill (CathNews, 02/11/07)
Qld allows cloning research by close margin (CathNews, 18/10/07)
Don't lift ban on cloning, says Brennan (CathNews, 23/06/06)
Abbott lashes "evangelical" stem cell scientists (CathNews, 21/08/06)
Bishops Catholics divided over stem cells (CathNews, 14/07/06)
Bishops Catholics divided over stem cells (CathNews, 28/03/02)


22 Nov 2007