Roman Catholic Church Outraged at EU Stem Cell Funding Decision

A Vatican newspaper has this week rebuked the decision by the European Union (EU) to continue its funding of embryonic stem cell research.

|TOP|As the 25-nations agreed this week to continue funding till 2013, a Vatican newspaper condemned the decision as a “twisted sense of progress”.

New stricter conditions were agreed upon by the EU-member states that will prevent human cloning and the destroying of embryos, yet the Vatican Radio has stated that the EU-‘s compromise agreement was “unacceptable for the Church”.

The Roman Catholic faith teaches that life commences at conception and therefore strictly forbids research on embryos.

Scientists have been excited by the potential that may be found by continued research into the area, as embryonic stem cells can be transformed into any type of human cell found in the body. This would be that if the scientists could find a way to control these cells and change them on demand into becoming specifically chosen cell types, they could in theory grow cell-replacements for damaged tissue.

However, controversy is high, as scientists have been taking stem cells from a 5-day-old embryo, therefore, killing it.

Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has been extremely critical of Italy's decision to back the proposals after initially stating its opposition to the method of the studies.

|AD|Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, a top Vatican official on bioethical questions, described the EU decision as "grave" and said it authorises "the use of human beings, on the basis of 'I kill you to get advantages for others,’” according to AP.

Poland, Austria, Malta, Slovakia and Lithuania were the nations that remained firmly against the compromise in the vote, and stated "ethical and moral" grounds for their decision.

The funding, however, has been agreed as enough votes were collected to see the motion pass. Funding will now be provided from the EU's US$65 billion research budget for 2007-2013, when the new rules expire.

Through that period, less than US$38 million will be spent on human research projects into embryonic stem cells, officials said.

US President Bush has last week already rejected legislation that could have multiplied the federal money from the US which went into embryonic stem cell research, using the first veto of his presidency to block a bill.

He said the bill "would have supported the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others."