VATICAN CITY, NOV. 28, 2001 ( John Paul II warned that human cloning experiments are a scientifically programmed threat against human life.

The Pontiff expressed his concern in the wake an announcement this week by U.S.-based Advanced Cell Technology Inc. that it had cloned a human embryo.

"True humanism can never allow methods and experiments that are scientifically and systematically programmed threats against human life," the Holy Father stated today.

At the end of the midweek general audience, the Pope greeted a group of doctors of the School of Medicine of Hospitals of Rome, and encouraged them to "defend without compromises the life and dignity of the person, in respect of the moral law."

The Vatican Press Office published a statement Monday denouncing "the dramatic character" and moral "gravity" of the human cloning experiment.

A human being was created, which was still in the embryonic stage, and was then destroyed, the Vatican document stated. The statement suggested that, in the future, medicine should experiment with stem cells taken from adults, which have proved scientifically valid and which respect the dignity of human life.