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No to cloning.

Rome--On August 29, John Paul II left his country residence at Castel Gandolfo to deliver a 20-minute address to the 18th International Congress of the Transplantation Society meeting in Rome, telling them that the cloning of human embryos is morally unacceptable. His statement came just a few days after the British government had ruled that limited cloning of human embryos for research purposes was allowable. The United States, also, has decided to allow federal research on stem cells taken from embryos by privately financed researchers.

The Pope declared that

"methods that fail to respect the dignity and value of the person must always be avoided. lam thinking in particular of attempts at human cloning with a view to obtaining organs for transplant." He added,

"Every medical procedure performed on the human person is subject to limits: not just to the limit of what is technically possible, but also to the limits determined by respect for human nature itself."

His clear statement of principle was based on the position, often reiterated by the Vatican, that the embryo is not merely a collection of cells but a human being with a right to its own life. There has been a growing demand for human embryos since the discovery two years ago that stem cells, genetically undifferentiated cells which develop into the different tissues of the body, can be used in the treatment of various diseases, including Parkinson's. Researchers in Britain, for example, will be allowed by law to create embryos and terminate them fourteen days later.

John Paul has made it clear that there are alternatives. Stem cells can be taken from umbilical cords and from the bone marrow of adults.

The Holy-Father gave strong support to organ transplants, calling them "a great step forward in science's service of man." Not a few people today, he said, owe their lives to an organ transplant. This statement is somewhat surprising because of the continuing arguments about the point at which organs can be removed from the dying-arguments turning on the complicated question of when death takes place.

Meanwhile, the Pope did object, very strongly, to the sale of organs: "any procedure which tends to commercialize human organs or to consider them as items of exchange or trade must be morally unacceptable."

He strongly emphasized, therefore, one guiding principle: "Methods that fail to respect the dignity and value of the person must always be avoided."


Since the British ruling, the European Parliament has condemned cloning and is pressuring Britain to comply. Within Britain itself Cardinal Thomas Winning of Scotland criticized the Government's announcement to remove the ban on cloning human embryo cells saying the practice "actually means killing." (Weekly Telegraph, Aug. 23, 2000)

See also John Shea, M.D., "The fatal research on stem cells," C.I. June 1999, pp 8-9.)
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Nov 1, 2000
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