Pope Benedict Says No to Stem Cell Research

As reported by the Associated Press, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated the Catholic Church’s stance on embryonic stem cell research at a Vatican conference on Saturday. The Pope reminded members of the U.S biotech firm, NeoStem that the Catholic Church considers embryonic stem cell research a moral wrong, one that destroys a potential life. Despite whatever benefit embryonic stem cell research has on saving lives, as a Catholic, I can assure the world that The Catholic Church will never support this science.

With embryonic stem cell research, an embryo is acquired by fertilizing a donated egg through the process of in vitro fertilization in an in vitro fertilization clinic. The human embryonic stem cells are taken from a pre-implantation embryo, and are transferred to a dish that is nutrient-rich with culture medium. The cells divide and grow across the dish, which contains an inner layer of the skin embronic cells of mice, which is called a “feeder layer.” The mouse cells give the human embryonic cells a sticky surface to attach to. There are also current research and procedures to grow human embryonic stem cells without the use of these mouse feeder cells to prevent possible disease.

The Catholic Church holds to the tenent that all life is sacred- even the potential life that exists in an embryo that is formed in an in vitro fertilization clinic. If the embryo were not destroyed through this stem cell research, it could successfully grow in a woman’s womb to be born. These embryos are “created” in a laboratory and destroyed for the purposes of stem cells. In The Church’s eyes, this whole science is morally wrong on two levels: firstly, scientists are playing God by creating life in a laboratory, and secondly, healthcare is playing God by trying to treat people with this procedure.

But when you have lemons, you make lemonade right?

The argument in favor of stem cell research is that these cells help treat the living, so they have the potential to save lives. But these embryonic stem cells were not just rescued from a trash bin, or from dead bodies- they were created Frankenstein-fashion in a clinic and destroyed essentially.

The Catholic Church rightfully believes that life begins at conception, so these embryos are life that are willfully destroyed in the name of science and medicine. No one has the right to play God.

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