February 29, 2024

US Catholic bishops reject embryonic stem cell research

Major statement issued in election year

American Catholic bishops have entered
the public square in an election year with an
unequivocal rejection
of human embryonic stem cell technology and
therapeutic cloning. They argue that it is not a theological dispute but a
human rights issue. It “does not force us to choose between science and ethics,
much less between science and religion,” they said in a statement from a
national conference in Orlando, Florida. “It presents a choice as to how our
society will pursue scientific and medical progress.”

Like other critics of stem cell
research, the bishops insist that they are not opposed to medical advances, but
only to the destruction of embryos, which is human life in its most vulnerable
stage. “The same ethic that justifies taking some lives to help the patient
with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease today can be used to sacrifice that
very patient tomorrow,” they warn.

There is no doubt about what side the
Catholic bishops are on in the increasingly visible debate over whether human
dignity is a meaningful concept. They contend that if there are no inherent
human rights for every human being, regardless of their physical or mental
abilities, there is “no true human equality, only privileges for the strong.”
And as precedents they cite the Declaration of Independence and allude to the
tragic history of American slavery.


statement was attacked
by the dissident pro-abortion Catholic group, Catholics for Choice. Its
president, Jon O’Brien, said that polls showed that most American Catholics
support stem-cell research and that the bishops’ obstinacy undermined a long
Catholic tradition of supporting scientific endeavour. ~ AP, June 13; Orlando
Sentinel, June 17