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January 09, 2007

Church, stem-cell research

Scott McCaffrey (1/5, Letters) claims that the Catholic Church, including his priest, lied about stem-cell research during the recent election.

It was not explained how it is lying to say that embryonic stem-cell research destroys human life and involves cloning, or that adult stem-cell research has been successful while embryonic stem-cell research has not.

From the rest of his letter though, it is obvious that McCaffrey’s real complaint is that the Catholic Church (or any church) speaks in the public square at all on issues of morality. This position is in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

McCaffrey writes, “Maybe it is time to stop looking at the church for the moral high ground and start looking at ourselves.”

In case he hasn’t noticed the current state of society, that approach is already being tried. It is an approach that Pope Benedict XVI warns is building a “dictatorship of relativism.” But what does he know?

Mark S. Robertson



Jeff, the gentleman from Italy has no ethical reservations about embryonic research, and he STILL alleged that his paper's publication was held up the first four times he submitted it because certain people don't want any good news with regard to non-embryonic cells coming to light:

"It took seven years to get our paper published...it was rejected four times. We had the impression that many of the criticisms raised (in rejecting the paper) were motivated by a resistance to the idea of finding an alternative to embryonic stem cells because the American scientific community fears restrictions on research with embryos."


And I'm really not sure why you're bringing religion into this, Jeff. Are you a priest? One not need to be religious in the least in order to oppose the killing of human beings for medical research.

"Question, where do you stand on public smoking? Because an embryo in a woman who is exposed to second hand smoke (or who smokes herself) is at greater risk of being miscarried, and is in fact damaged."

Not just embryonic human beings...adults are in danger of suffering greatly from secondhand smoke, as well. Where do YOU stand on it, Jeff?

Jeff H

bmmg39, actually YOU have it wrong. There is not one scientist out there in favor of embryonic stem cell research who belittles the other types of stem cell research. Only politicians, uneducated folks trying to make science conform to their religion instead of using science to SUPPORT their religion, and the people who believe their lies actually think that one side belittles the other in research circles.

Scientists recognize the benefits that already exist from somatic stem cell research. Scientists ALSO recognize the limitations inherent in stem cells acquired from these other sources. At they same time, they recognize the potential for so much more from embryonic stem cell research, which, for the record, is not illegal, just already quite hampered by additional government limitations.

As for your generalization that those opposed to embryonic stem cell research are "opposed to killing embryos" (with the inherent inference that those who support embryonice stem cell research must then "support the killing of embryos"), that is also incorrect.

If you truly and fully opposed the killing of embryos, you would be pushing for finding alternate uses for the many unused embryos from fertility clinics, you would support the REQUIREMENT of prenatal care, which decreases the risk of spontaneous abortions, you would support the regulation of what a pregnant woman can do (smoke, drink, etc) that risks her embryo.

But far too many people who profess to want to "save the innocent embryos really just want to support a politician or preacher who knows very little science but thinks he/she knows better than a scientist what should be researched.

Question, where do you stand on public smoking? Because an embryo in a woman who is exposed to second hand smoke (or who smokes herself) is at greater risk of being miscarried, and is in fact damaged. If you take your stance on protection of embryos seriously, should you not be out stumping for a comprehensive smoking ban?


"Now that the scientists are finding success with stem cells harvested from amniotic fluid, I can't wait for the agginers to find something wrong with that."

You have it completely backwards (again). Those against killing embryos SUPPORT using stem cells derived from other sources, including fat, bone marrow, and umbilical cord blood. The ones pooh-poohing this are those in favor of embryonic stem cell research, as they're frightened that the overwhelming good news on the non-embryonic front will cause people to examine the claim that ESCs provide "our only hope."


As I understand it, it's not the cells but the source of the cells and how that source is created that is the basis of the opposition. On that basis I see no reason for there to be opposition to the use of stem cells from amniotic fluid any more than to the use of those from umbilical cords or other such sources. Although I read quite a lot about the controversy, I don't remember either side mentioning cells from amniotic fluid. As this would have worked against the "pros" with their media backing, could this be a case of supression of information?


jj: Although I don't remember it, it wouldn't surprise me.

My geuss regarding those who will not like this is that the cell has the complete DNA of a human. Because of this, if you get it to reproduce itself, some will claim that it is "human life".


Jack - I could have sworn this knowledge was mentioned during the '04 election as an alternative to embryonic stem cell use. Am I the only one who thinks he remembers this?

I'm not sure who could be 'agin this one - except the radical anti-lifers.


Now that the scientists are finding success with stem cells harvested from amniotic fluid, I can't wait for the agginers to find something wrong with that.

catholic scientist

I may be able to help clarify Scott McCaffreys's "claim". I too heard the lies. I have no objection to hearing my priest tell me his belief that life exists at conception, and his interpretation that creating embryonic stem cell lines therefore constitutes cloning. I just happen to disagree.

But I too, objected to the blatant lies. One of which was that in the quest for eggs scientists were going to exploit poor minority woman or distressed college students out to make money. The amendment clearly defines that they can't be paid, they can only be reimbursed for costs. It would seem to me, that most would agree that it shouldn't cost a volunteer to donate.

The initiative does not promise any tax dollars to the research. Twisting the verbiage in the amendment to say otherwise, was an out and out lie.

Incidentally, to continue to twist the idea that building university and college buildings in which at some point, some day in the future, some research might be performed that included embryonic stem cells, is also stretching the truth of tax payer money being used to support embryonic stem cell research.

Convince your flock with your religious beliefs, fine, but don't lie to us.

One other point. To throw up the amount of money that it cost each side during the campaign, doesn't include all that free publicity that was provided from the pulpits, where there was little opportunity for the other side to debate the issue...

Joe Barone

How is Pope Benedict's interpretation of what religion should be any less relative than Scott McCaffrey's interpretation of what does or does not constitute human life?

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