Cardinal Gives Support to Adult Stem Cell Research

Explains Vatican’s Investment in International Project

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ROME, APRIL 30, 2010 ( The Vatican wants to support scientists searching for cures to various illnesses, but not at the cost of human embryos who are killed for stem cells, says Cardinal Renato Martino.

The retired president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace stated this on Vatican Radio in response to an announcement by the U.S. University of Maryland that the Holy See was agreeing to donate €2 million ($2.7 million) to its research with adult stem cells.

The university clarified Wednesday that the money for this type of research will be channeled through the Holy See’s Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome, which will distribute the funds to various participants in an international project to study adult stem cells.

On April 23, an agreement was signed in Rome between various parties interested in this research, including the Holy See, the university, a children’s hospital in Europe and Italy’s national institute of health.

Cardinal Martino stated, «The Church wishes to contribute to the progress of science and research but, of course, in defense of the life of the sick and avoiding the use of embryonic stem cells for this research.»

To date, much of this research has involved the use of embryonic stem cells, and as the cardinal pointed out, «when an embryonic stem cell is used, what remains of the embryo is eliminated, a life is destroyed.»

«Instead, with adult stem cells, no living being is killed,» he added.

The prelate explained that this initiative «proposes the search for adult stem cells taken from the patient’s intestine, to cure different illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, among others.»

He noted that the Church’s first contribution is «to have a place where this research can be carried out,» for which reason the Bambino Gesù hospital is offerings its laboratories.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, also affirmed that «the permissibility of research and of the use of stem cells from adult tissues has always been recognized, as happens in this case.»

He added that «the distinction — between this type of cells and those that come from embryos — is fundamental from the ethical point of view.»

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