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August 10, 2001

STATEMENT BY
ANTHONY CARDINAL BEVILACQUA
ARCHBISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA
REGARDING PRESIDENTIAL DECISION ON STEM CELL RESEARCH

It is with mixed feelings that I listened to the decision of President Bush regarding the use of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. From a Catholic perspective, I would have preferred a total exclusion of funding for embryonic stem cell research. At the same time, I am grateful that the President has remained faithful to his pro-life stance by banning the use of taxpayer money for research on stem cells that would require any future destruction of living human embryos. The President will allow limited funding for research on sixty (60) stem cell lines presently available and already utilized in scientific research.

Stem cell research is not limited to embryos. I am encouraged by the Presidentís continued support for research on stem cells obtained in a moral and ethical manner from adults, as well as from umbilical cords and placentas. Many respected scientists think that these cells hold as much, if not more, therapeutic promise than embryonic stem cells.

The Presidentís decision does not eliminate all concerns, especially moral ones, regarding stem cell research. I commend the Presidentís proposal to name a Presidential Council to monitor and examine further questions relating to stem cell research.

It is my hope that the Presidential Council will address some lingering moral concerns. Despite the Presidentís good intentions to avoid destruction of human embryonic life, it is possible that even limited federal funding will contribute to an attitude that individual human beings serve a utilitarian purpose, and that in some cases they can be destroyed for the good of others. We must remember that the Church teaches that a human embryo is a human being endowed with a human soul and, equal to any other human person, can never be used as a means to an end, no matter how beneficial that end may be.

Scientists see great potential in their research on stem cells. They believe that research in this field may yield cures for various life-threatening diseases. The Church encourages strongly all moral and
ethical research that can lead to the beneficial treatment of human affliction and suffering. However, the Church teaches that human life is a gift from God and every human life must be protected. The Church will continue to defend the dignity of all human life, especially the life of the unborn. Our commitment to all human life is clearly expressed by our stance against any policy that judges one life, no matter how fragile, as less important than another.


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