Saturday, 13 December 2008

Publication of Vatican document on human life

Cardinal Keith O'Brien has welcomed the publication earlier today of the Vatican document "Dignitas Personae" on the subject of biomedical research.

The document prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and approved by Pope Benedict XVI, was launched at a press conference in Rome earlier today. Speaking after the launch, Cardinal O'Brien said:

"I welcome this unambiguous teaching document which affirms the Church's view that human beings are entitled to dignity and respect from the moment of conception and posses an absolute right to life. Sadly, in the course of recent years such universal and fundamental rights have been utterly destroyed in the UK most recently by the passing of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. As well as defending human life, this document also welcomes and endorses scientific research, making it clear that such work must be ethical and effective. I would urge any Catholic working in these fields to examine their conscience very carefully in the light of this informed and explicit teaching. Ultimately such individuals must ask themselves if their work is compatible with their faith."

Cardinal O'Brien added:

"The United Kingdom has a shameful and scandalous record in the field of bioethics with no meaningful ethical oversight whatsoever and nothing but a string of expensive failures to show for decades of "anything goes" science. It is worth remembering that over the last 18 years, the HFEA has never refused a license for preimplantation diagnosis or embryo experimentation and has never turned down any application to use human embryos. It has no members who hold the embryo to be inviolable. Meanwhile overblown promises of future success constantly manipulate the emotions of those suffering terrible illnesses. The example of 'Dolly' the sheep is instructive, born in 1997, its birth followed hundreds of grotesquely deformed earlier attempts, it died prematurely and the company behind its creation went out of business. Yet the hype and superficial coverage surrounding that event suggested it was some kind of success story!"

Cardinal O'Brien concluded:

"I hope that the clarity of thinking shown in 'Dignitas Personae' will inform debate here in the UK and encourage biomedical research which is ethical and successful such as that using adult stem cells. Since the passing of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act in October, the UK (uniquely in the Western world) now allows experimentation on human embryos, human cloning, and the creation of part-human part-animal embryos. It even allows for tissue to be removed from individuals without their consent. We have set many nightmarish precedents in this country, I hope that as understating of the dignity of human life at every stage grows we will create a new culture of life in this country, where the deliberate destruction of human life is not licensed by the state and paid for by the tax-payer."

(source: SCMO)

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