By Peter J. Smith
DENVER, July 27, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Earlier this week, Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, the director of Education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center and one of the foremost bioethicists of the Catholic Church, reiterated that the Church is an enthusiastic supporter, not an enemy of stem-cell research.
According to the Catholic News Agency, Fr. Pacholczyk conducted his presentation concerning the science and ethics of stem cell research and cloning on Sunday before a large crowd gathered at the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization in Denver.
During his presentation, Fr. Pacholczyk debunked what he described as the “ten media myths about stem cell research and cloning” that have been perpetuated about stem-cells and the Catholic Church. Fr. Pacholczyk, who holds a doctorate in Neuroscience from Yale University, conducted post-doctoral research at Harvard Medical School, and studied theology and bioethics in Rome, explained that it is the source of stem cells is at the heart of the ethics in stem-cell research.
Among the four primary sources of human stem cells (human embryos, fetal tissues and organs from aborted or miscarried babies, pregnancy matter (umbilical cord, placenta, amniotic fluid), and adult tissues and organs), the extraction of stem cells from human embryos is always morally evil on account of the method necessarily destroying the life of the embryo. Fr. Pacholczyk explained that the Catholic Church only applauds that research which uses stem-cells procured from methods that do not violate human life.
However, Fr.Â Pacholczyk also noted that the much touted panacea from embryonic stem-cell research is a great myth in itself, and a dangerous one. While media and politicians have been insisting that only stem-cells from destroyed embryos can cure the diseases of over 100 million patients, Fr. Pacholczyk pointed out that not one human being or animal has been cured with such research. In fact, since embryonic stem-cells are designed to work in an embryonic environment, their rapid cellular growth have produced tumors called teratoma, and led to death in test subjects.
Unlike embryonic stem cells, stem cells derived from adult tissues and pregnancy matter have shown impressive results without carrying any ethical dilemma or risk of tumors and death to patients. Fr. Pacholczyk listed dozens of diseases currently treatable using these stem cells, including sickle-cell anemia, leukemia, spinal cord injury, and heart disease.
While speaking, Fr. Pacholczyk touched on therapeutic cloning, saying “It is a myth that therapeutic cloning does not violate human life.” Fr. Pacholczyk explained that therapeutic cloning is intrinsically evil because it creates life only in order to destroy it for research purposes. During the debate over Santorum and Specter’s “Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act” (S. 2754), Fr. Pacholczyk confirmed to pro-lifers that the methods specified in the bill would in fact clone and create disabled human embryos for stem-cell research purposes. (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jul/060714a.html)
Toward the end of his presentation, Fr. Pacholczyk addressed the topic of fate of the hundreds of thousands of human embryos frozen in fertility clinics across the United States. Although proponents of embryonic stem-cell research maintain that these embryos are doomed to be destroyed anyway, Fr. Pacholczyk emphasized greatly that the possible future of these embryos in no way justifies their destruction in the present– no matter the purported benefit in scientific research.
Indeed, the defense of the human dignity of these embryos is so crucial to the defense of all human life that Fr. Pacholczyk stated, “If we surrender this battle over the frozen embryos, we will have nothing left to stand on.”
ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women), a non-profit group dedicated to promoting ChristianÂfeminism as inspired by the teachings of Pope John Paul II, sponsored Fr. Fr. Pacholczyk’s presentation.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
“Adult Stem Cell Research: True Potential Sacrificed for Other Possibilities Says Biotech Writer” (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jun/06061311.html)