Cardinal Pell Assails Plan to Ease Cloning Laws

Australian Report Urges “Therapeutic” Procedure

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SYDNEY, Australia, DEC. 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal George Pell of Sydney condemned a government report that recommends an easing of laws on cloning and embryo research, saying that it is “out of step with human values.”

The archbishop of Sydney released a statement Thursday criticizing the Report of the Lockhart Committee which reviewed the 2002 law which banned cloning and prohibited the creation of human embryos for the purpose of experimental destruction.

The six-month inquiry called for cloning and embryo research laws to be dramatically relaxed, and backed the practice of “therapeutic cloning,” reported the Australian newspaper The Age.

Cardinal Pell denounced the report’s lack of respect for the human embryo. “The report takes it for granted that human embryos are merely a ‘resource’ to be exploited like an inferior animal or plant,” he said.

Under the recommendations, scientists would be able to create cloned human embryos for scientific study, mix animal and human material to obtain stem cells, and produce embryos from the DNA of two or more people.

Cardinal Pell said the report proposes the “manufacturing a specific subclass of living human beings solely for use as research material.”

The report recommended that the ban on reproductive cloning should remain because of ethical and safety concerns.

“All human cloning is reproductive because all human cloning creates new human life,” said the cardinal. “It is never ‘therapeutic’ to destroy human life, and creating human life for the sole purpose of killing for disputed scientific reasons makes a mockery of the therapeutic purpose of medical science.”

Alternatives

Cardinal Pell offered an alternative in his statement: that of taking human stem cells from umbilical cord blood and the body tissues of children and adults.

“This harms no one and has repeatedly yielded good results for treatment,” he said.

The Archdiocese of Sydney, reported the cardinal, recently awarded a $100,000 grant “to a researcher in Melbourne who is using adult stem cells to research the accelerated regrowth of skin for burns victims.”

“The Lockhart Report points the way to a destructive dead-end and provides no compelling reason for Parliament to change the existing law. We call on the Australian community and its legislators to reject it,” he said.

Archbishop Francis Carroll, president of the Australian bishops’ conference, called the report a “matter of great disappointment and sadness,” reported The Catholic Weekly.

“This will be the first time that cloning has been allowed in Australia,” observed the archbishop of Canberra. “It is a matter of regret and a further step towards reducing the respect and dignity of human life.”

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