Vatican Condemns Human Cloning by U.S. Firm

A Morally Grave Experiment with Embryo, Statement Says

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2001 ( The Vatican denounced the «dramatic character» and moral «gravity» of the experiment in human cloning announced Sunday by a private U.S. laboratory.

An unsigned statement released today by the Vatican Press Office asks: «What is an embryo in the initial stage,» defined in the scientists´ article as an «early embryo»?

The Vatican statement refers to the gravity of the experiment, as described in The Journal of Regenerative Medicine, which entailed the creation of an embryonic human being. The cloned embryo was later destroyed.

«This is where the bioethical question returns in all its current importance, never quiescent because of truth, regarding when to consider the beginning of human life,» the Vatican statement emphasizes.

On Sunday, Advanced Cell Technology Inc. of Worcester, Massachusetts, announced that it had cloned a human embryo and said it hopes the experiment will lead to treatments for diseases.

The Vatican document confirms forcefully «that the beginning of human life cannot be fixed by convention to a certain stage of development of the embryo; in fact, it is fixed already at the first instance of existence of the embryo itself.»

«Therefore, despite the stated ´humanistic´ intentions of those who announce surprising cures by following on this road, which passes through the cloning industry, an objective but firm judgment is necessary, which shows the moral gravity of this project and justifies its unequivocal condemnation,» the document adds.

Moreover, the cloning project «sanctions a real and proper discrimination among human beings, in virtue of the time of their development.»

Thus, laments the Vatican statement, «an embryo is worth less than a fetus, and a fetus less than a baby, and a baby less than an adult, reversing the moral imperative which instead imposes the maximum tutelage and respect proper to those who are not in a condition to defend and manifest their intrinsic dignity.»

Lastly, the Vatican statement urges scientists to pursue experimentation with adults´ stem cells, which have been proved scientifically valid and respect the dignity of human life.

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