Europe: Council of Ministers Votes for Funding of Research on Embryonic Stem Cells.

Source: FSSPX News

On July 24, the Council of Ministers of the European Union voted in favor of the continued granting of funds for embryonic stem cell research, for the period 2007-2013.

 Five countries voted against this decision: Austria, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Slovakia. Three countries expressed serious reservations: Germany, Italy and Luxembourg. The continuation of stem cell research was approved by six countries: Belgium, Finland, France, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

 Annette Schavan, a research minister in Germany said: “We must protect human life from its very conception. We do not want financial incentives to kill embryos.”

 Janez Potocnik, a science and research Commissioner of the European Union acknowledged:

...if one wishes to carry out research on embryonic stem cells, the destruction of embryos will become necessary at a certain point, but we are not going to finance this phase.” The European Union “will finance the subsequent steps allowing the use of the cells.


Reactions to the European vote

 In a press release, Mgr. Adrianus Van Luyn, the bishop of Rotterdam and president of the Commission of Bishops Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), had this to say:

The Catholic Church recognizes the importance of developing an economy based on knowledge, research and innovation in the European Union. To this end the 7th Framework Research Program is an essential instrument to support research and innovation at the European Union level,” if “science and research make major contributions to the quality of life, especially in the area of health where new therapeutic options are available.

However, COMECE notes that the European Parliament continues to promote research on human embryo stem cells, despite the opposition of certain member States. COMECE also reiterates its opposition to the funding of research which requires the destruction of human embryos.

Furthermore there is no necessity to undertake this research; according to experts, adult stem cells and stem cells from the umbilical cord, offer an alternative path with interesting and real perspectives for therapy.

 On July 15, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, spoke on Vatican Radio. It is a “serious” fact that Europe “does not acknowledge this fundamental right, the right to life.” Equally serious is the “legislation which authorizes the use of the human being on the basis of ‘I am killing you so that others can benefit.’” Europe is committing “an act of grave inconsistency,” since wishing “to stop the acts of violence and warfare” in the Lebanon-Israeli crisis is inconceivable without “being opposed to destructive research which is in itself an act of violence, even if it is carried out on human life at its outset.” In actual fact, the life of stem cells is the “equivalent of those of all our children, to all of us who have come into the world.”

Mgr. Sgreccia commented on the fact that the vote of the European ministers had posed “three conditions”: “It is forbidden to the researcher to seek to destroy the human embryo in order to remove the desired cells.” “This researcher – or other researchers – may on the other hand, have recourse to stocks of cells produced by others,” those who have in fact “killed the embryos”, stocks of which are “then marketed.”

One may establish research procedures for the funding aimed at using already frozen embryos which may no longer be implanted in the uterus of the mother, after the verification of the death of these embryos.” He continued, “we know that in order to verify the deaths of frozen embryos, they must be thawed, and that in thawing them some of them will die.

It is impossible to see how this step can be taken without provoking the deaths of embryos,” declared the Italian bishop. “If the embryo is what it is, that is to say a human being, we see that these three statements are incompatible.” And “this is why” this decision can be described as “hypocritical or contradictory.

It is an undertaking which is unacceptable to the Church.

In the Osservatore Romano of July 26, Marco Bellizi announced: “The Italian government has decided to line up behind the majority of the Council of European Ministers and to vote in favor of embryonic stem cell research.” And he commented:

At the time of the divorce laws, one talked of providing a forum for progress, when they started talking about abortion, they preferred a little variation on the theme of an abstruse breakthrough for civilization.” Today, “these latter-day progressives appeal to public opinion, in an illicit way they break into most sacred part of the conscience of thousands of people claiming to guide human destiny, according exclusively to elite materialism.


French bishops express concern

 In a press release of July 31, the French Bishops Conference, spoke about the report Stem Cells and Ethical choices by Professor Pierre-Louis Fagniez, a deputy of the Val du Marne. This report, submitted to the French Prime Minister, puts forward ten recommendations for stem cell research.

The bishops asked:

 Is this not a blind refusal to come to terms with the problem, to want to ‘pass from a dispensatory system to a system of authorization’ of embryo research (proposal number 4 of the report), even if the orders fixing this dispensatory regime are still so recent?

 Despite the fact that “the therapeutic pretext” has not been put forward, it is abusive to have recourse to the terms “somatic cell nuclear transfer” instead of “non-reproductive cloning” (proposal number 7) in order to resolve this moral question.

 And finally, “research on adult stem calls (proposal number 3) of which “the first therapeutic applications are well established,” according to the report, deserve more than just an “investment equal to that of embryonic stem cells.”