Page 3, 19th December 2008

19th December 2008
Page 3
Page 3, 19th December 2008 — Vatican defends the dignity of human life from conception

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Locations: Cardiff


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Vatican defends the dignity of human life from conception

Continued from Page 1: Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff said that the Vatican was calling for more research of this kind.

"These developments demonstrate the power of-medical science and the potential of adult stem cells in curing diseases and relieving suffering," he said "We hope to see more research focusing on adult stem cells, as their use raises none of the problems created by embryonic stem cells which require the destruction of human embryos."

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, said that Britain had a -shameful and scandalous record in the field of bioethics with no mean ingful ethical oversight whatsoever and nothing but a string of expensive failures to show for decades of 'anything goes' science".

He said: "I hope that the clarity of thinking skown in Dignitas Personae will inform debate here in the UK and encourage biomedical research which is ethical and suec,essful such as that using adult stem cells. Since the passing of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act in October. Britain (uniquely in the western world) now allows experimentation on human embryos, human cloning and the creation of part-human part-animal embryos. It even allows for tissue to be removed from individuals without their consent. "We have set many nightmarish precedents in this country. I hope that as understating of the dignity of human life at every stage grows we will create a new culture of life in, where the deliberate destruction of human life is not licensed by the state and paid for by the taxpayer."

The Vatican has admitted that the purpose of the document was partly to shape debates, citing an "urgent need to mobilise consciences in favour of life".

In particular it was targeting countries such as America where President George W Bush has placed restrictions on federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research but President-elect Barack Obama has made it one of his priorities to lift them.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, 'president of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, said at the -launch of the document that the Church had a right to intervene on matters of fundamental human rights.

"How can we forget. for example, the commitment of missionaries against slavery in countries that had been colonised. or the defence of workers at the beginning of the 19th ,century?" he asked. "Today, the issue that will mark the coming decades and the life of society is determined by the defence of the dignity of the person from conception to natural death." The British Government has claimed that research on human embryos might result in cures for such incurable diseases as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

But serious doubts over whether such therapies would ever be delivered were raised last year when Dr Ian Wilmut. the creator of Dolly the sheep, abandoned the cloning technique he pioneered.

The Edinburgh University professor shocked the British scientific establishment when he decided not to pursue a licence to clone human embryos to find new treatments for motor neuron disease.

He said a method pioneered at Kyoto University in Japan, using adult stem-cells taken from patients was showing far greater potential to produce therapies for a vast range of illnesses.

But in spite of its superior clinical success. adult stem cell research remains seriously under funded in Britain compared to the vast amounts spent on embryonic stem-cell research. .

In October this led to Cohn McGuckin, professor of regenerative medicine at Newcastle University, to leave Britain for the University of Lyon, France.

'The bottom line is my vocation is to work with patients and .help patients and unfortunately I can't do that in the UK,' he told the Times. He said France offered a "much better environment" both to "cure arid treat more people" and to "do good work-.

"France is very supportive of adult stem cells because they, know that these are the things that are in the clinic right now and wiLbe more likely in the clinic," said Prof McGucldn, a Catholic.

"A vast amount of money in the UK from the Government has gone into embryonic stem-cell research with not one patient having being treated, to the detriment of research into adult stem cells, which has been severely under-funded.

"You would barely know that adult stem cells exist at Newcastle," he added

Vatican Notebook: Page 4

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