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Rome Reports

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Stem Cell Research Against Human Dignity

Twenty one years later there have been many advancements regarding cloning, genetic engineering, embryonic and adult stem cell research. To address these new topics the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued last December a new document called Dignitas Personae, or dignity of a person.

Fthr. Fernando PascualBioethics Professor, Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum (Rome)From beginning to end the Church shows through this document a great trust for science , it’s not an enemy of science and it’s not an enemy of research. But the Church makes a constant point to defend human dignity.


The Church hopes these guidelines for ethical biotechnology will reach everyone from researchers to doctors to the politicians who make the laws.

Dignitas Personae will have to tackle the ethics of a new administration in the United States. By overturning the Mexico City Policy shortly after taking office, President Barack Obama allowed federal funding to family planning NGO’s outside the U.S., thus taking the abortion issue to an international level.

Fthr. Fernando PascualBioethics Professor, Regina ApostolorumAs soon as Obama’s administration began he does away with the Mexico City policy, in other words, these organisations that deep down promote abortion will be financed by the government.

Mons. Elio SgrecciaPresident Emeritus, Pontifical Academy for LifeThe new administration has opened funding to control births in the world; to finance abortion, sterilization and birth control campaigns around the world. Naturally, this goes against humanity before it goes against the Church.

Now Barack Obama’s administration is working to remove the executive ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Former president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, says the document accepts adult stem cells research, which are actually being used for treatment and cause no harm to embryos. But when it comes to embryonic stem cells, there’s a problem.


Mons. Elio SgrecciaPresident Emeritus, Pontifical Academy for LifeSo far, embryonic stem cells have not been used for any kind of treatment. But in any case, it would be unethical to use them because it would destroy the embryo.


When discussing the rights of the unborn, politicians find it hard to agree on what’s ethical and what’s practical. The Dignitas Personae tries to answer these questions when the issue of abortion and embryonic stem cell research are finding their way into the U.S. government’s federal funding.

Mons. Elio SgrecciaPresident Emeritus, Pontifical Academy for LifeIf the state funds this research they are encouraging it. This is a major change, of course, and a strong change in attitude that the church has received with shock and with great sadness.



The Holy See is still deliberating on where it stands with some new techniques for human cloning that produce embryonic stem cells but no embryo. Until a new document is issued the Dignitas Personae stands as the Vatican’s moral instruction on biotechnology.