Hilary White

Obama admin’s FDA mulling three-parent embryo creation

Hilary White
Hilary White
Image

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 31, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While some European ethicists and politicians have called for an end to the creation of “three-parent” IVF embryos, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced it is considering allowing the practice - without having held a public consultation.

Researchers say that the technique “modifies standard IVF technology” to create an embryo from the eggs of two women and sperm from one man.

The FDA’s most recent draft guidance on the issue included no mention of the ethical concerns over the nature of the procedure itself, but only offers suggestions for developing early stage clinical trials.

“This guidance is intended to facilitate [cellular and gene therapy] development by providing recommendations regarding selected aspects of the design of early-phase clinical trials of these products,” the document said.

The FDA’s Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee had planned on holding a public consultation in Silver Spring, Maryland, on October 22-23, but an announcement said they had postponed it because of the federal government shutdown.

No new consultation date has been announced.

Among those objecting to the FDA’s proposal is the Arkansas-based Family Council, who have published their response to the consultation, listing three reasons the creation of children with three genetic parents should not be allowed.

First, they said, the technique, like human embryonic stem cell research, inevitably involves the creation of human embryos whose sole purpose is to be “created and killed in the name of science.”

They also said that the research, while it is purported to be about preventing genetic disorders, “could also be used by polygamous or polyamorous ‘families’ to ‘create’ children biologically-related to all the adults involved in the relationship.”

The document also warns of potentially wide-ranging issues in law and public policy related to child welfare or parental rights, all of which currently “assumes children have two biological parents.”

“While it’s fairly common for children to be reared by only one parent, or for someone other than a biological parent to have custody of a child, it is not known what damage could be done to the rights of two-parent children if the laws change to accommodate parents of three-parent children,” the group said.

The Vatican is on record against the procedure. The document, Dignitas Personae, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says that, since all research used to develop such therapies starts with the artificial creation of human embryos, most of which are then destroyed, “it must be stated that, in its current state, germ-line cell therapy in all its forms is morally illicit.”

Much of the objection to the proposal comes from the fact that alterations to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) result in genetic changes that will be carried down the line of inheritance when the embryo becomes an adult and has his or her own children.

This “germ-line” genetic therapy was condemned by the 2008 CDF document, which said when “genetic modifications are effected on the germ cells of a person will be transmitted to any potential offspring,” the procedure cannot be morally licit.

The ethics of the procedure are not the only concerns. The Scientist also reports that some clinical “safety” issues remain unresolved. The researchers who developed the technique reported genetic abnormalities in about half the embryos created, and other researchers have expressed concerns “about the compatibility of the mitochondrial and nuclear DNA from two different donors.”

Most of the research community is dismissive of such concerns. In 2012, Sir Mark Walport, then head of the UK’s Wellcome Trust, described mitochondrial gene transfer as merely the equivalent of “changing the batteries in a camera.” The trust had just awarded a grant of £5.8 million to researchers at Newcastle University, a major center for embryo research.

The procedure was described in an article in The Scientist as a means of avoiding the various pathologies caused by genetic anomalies in the mitochondria, the tiny organelles found in the cytoplasm that act as “batteries” providing power to an organism’s cells.

In it, the nucleus from the ovum of a woman carrying “mitochondrial defects” is transferred into the second “donor egg,” whose cytoplasm is free of the mitochondrial defects and from which the nucleus has been removed.

The result is an ovum, (oocyte or female gamete) that has the nuclear DNA of the first woman, but with the defect-free cytoplasm of the second woman. The resulting genetically modified ovum is then fertilized with the sperm, becoming an embryo which can be implanted in the “donor” who has the mitochondrial disorder.

The technique was developed by a team of biologists at Oregon Health and Science University in Beaverton in 2009, which created healthy rhesus monkeys free of mitochondrial genetic disorders. In 2012, the same team announced success in human trials, having created a dozen human embryos, all of which were later “destroyed,” who had no mitochondrial disorders.

Those with concerns may contact the FDA:

Gail Dapolito

Phone: 301-827-1289,

Fax: 301-827-0294

e-mail: gail.dapolito@fda.hhs.gov

Writers are asked to use “Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee Meeting Comment” as the e-mail’s subject line.

Support hard-hitting pro-life and pro-family journalism.

Donate to LifeSite's fall campaign today


Advertisement
Featured Image
Pro-marriage advocates must show love to all, "especially...those who disagree with us on this issue, and most of all, for those who are hostile toward us,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told the 2014 March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
Lisa Bourne

,

Rich liberal groups funded gay push on San Fran archbishop to back out of marriage march

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

Tax-exempt homosexual activist groups attempted to coerce San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone out of his engagement as keynote speaker for the March for Marriage in Washington D.C. earlier this year, according to reports by his diocesan newspaper, a move that is part of a larger orchestrated campaign to fight the Catholic Church in the court of public opinion.

One of the homosexual activist organizations involved in financing the assailing of Archbishop Cordileone, the Arcus Foundation, has given funds to specifically target the Synod on the Family and World Youth Day, according to EWTN News. In one instance, Arcus gave a grant to Dignity USA "to support pro-LGBT faith advocates to influence and counter the narrative of the Catholic Church and its ultra-conservative affiliates."

Catholic San Francisco has reported extensively about how the Ford Foundation, Quark Inc. founder Tim Gill’s foundation, and the Arcus Foundation are at the top of a list of wealthy activist organizations that fund promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activity, and that they also donate extensively to faith-focused organizations that publicly dispute Catholic teaching on marriage and homosexual behavior.

The Ford Foundation gave more than $2 million to Faith in Public Life, which advocates against the Church on abortion, homosexuality, and marriage, and $900,000 to Catholics for Choice, which supports abortion.

Arcus has given roughly $1.5 million to groups calling themselves Catholic while advocating for homosexual behavior, including Dignity’s Equally Blessed Coalition, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, New Ways Ministry, and Faithful America.

The Gill Foundation gave $100,000 to the Catholics United Education Fund, a prominent proponent of homosexual “marriage,” $17,500 in grants to Dignity USA, $5,000 to Faith in Public Life to research the religious right, and $20,000 to the same group to support Faithful America.

While Faithful America was the organization responsible for a petition trying to pressure Archbishop Cordileone out of speaking at the June 19 March for Marriage, it has gotten funding from the Gill Foundation, billionaire and Arcus Foundation Founder and President Jon Stryker, billionaire George Soros, and the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund, according to Catholic San Francisco.

Two days before the Marriage for Marriage in Washington roughly 75 people marched to the archdiocesan offices in San Francisco to present the Faithful America petition, and a representative from the group emailed a letter to Archbishop Cordileone.

The letter, which selectively referenced Church documents and statements, as well as the words of Pope Francis, was signed by numerous pro-homosexual politicians, homosexual activist groups, and laicized and dissident clergy.

Archbishop Cordileone responded with a letter explaining his duty to speak the truth, offering to meet with those who opposed Church teaching on marriage and sexuality and informing them he would not back out of the March for Marriage.

Click "like" to support Catholics Restoring the Culture!

Anne Hendershott, a professor of sociology at Franciscan University, reported on Faithful America and the forces behind the attacks on Archbishop Cordileone in June for Crisis Magazine, noting that former Assistant Director of Media Relations for the USCCB John Gehring now works for the George Soros-funded Faith in Public Life and Faithful America.

“Gehring now spends his time attacking the same bishops he once worked for,” Hendershott wrote in her column.

She stated as well at the time that it is likely the attacks will continue to escalate.

Faithful America sent a call to action in a September 11 email to its subscriber list after Catholic San Francisco began reporting on who was behind the attacks on Archbishop Cordileone.

It referred to Archbishop Cordileone as “right-wing,” claimed he had a “hateful agenda,” admitted their goal is “attempting to change Church doctrine on matters of sexuality,” and expressed concern over reporting on its funding appearing in a diocesan publication versus other media.

The email called for support for an ad in the San Francisco archdiocesan newspaper with local Catholics criticizing Archbishop Cordileone, and “adding another organizer to Faithful America’s team.”

Jesuit Father John Piderit, moderator of the curia and vicar for administration for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, noted in Catholic San Francisco that Faithful America suggested it was ordinary Catholics that were upset about the archbishop’s decision to participate in the March for Marriage.

“To operate successfully in the public sphere, American Catholics need clear knowledge about the forces arrayed against them,” said Father Piderit. “Similar to other groups, Faithful America is a well-funded pressure group that espouses a variety of viewpoints contrary to Catholic teaching. Informed Catholics are aware that such groups regularly promote their viewpoints in the media.”

Hendershott identified this in her column as well.

“Still, no one should imagine that these attacks, so heavily funded by non-Catholic sources, reflect the views of faithful Catholics,” she said. “This is why even a well-funded dissident minority cannot ultimately weaken a church that is united and confident in its teachings and mission and, most importantly, enjoys divine protection.”

Advertisement
Featured Image
Douglas Dewey

,

Cardinal Dolan, please step down as Grand Marshal: an open letter

Douglas Dewey
By Douglas Dewey

Editor’s Note: A well-connected parishioner in the Archdiocese of New York wrote the following open letter to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan in response to the cardinal’s defense of his decision to serve as Grand Marshal in the 2015 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. For full context, see the cardinal’s column here.

Your Eminence,

Thank you for devoting your September 17 column to clarifying your response to the recent decision to allow OUT@NBCUniversal to march in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Much as it pains me to say it, I am even more concerned now than I was before.

In your explanation, you reiterate your insistence that you don’t control who is allowed to march in the parade, that this has always been the decision of the Parade Committee. No doubt, although that didn’t seem to prevent Cardinal O’Connor from stepping up and publicly opposing the identical request, in the not-too-distant past. Either way, it begs the bigger point: this is the kind of response we might expect from a politician, not a shepherd. It is hard to imagine William Wallace explaining to his countrymen that Edward Longshanks “did not ask my approval, nor did he need to” on whether to institute prima nocta. Sorry lads, out of my hands.

Had you stopped there, and said nothing more, at least those of us who want to be faithful and stand by our bishop could have, in charity, assumed there was more to the matter and trusted in your discretion. But you went two steps further. First, you insisted that the Parade Committee’s decision to include openly homosexual groups was not a cause for you to step down as Grand Marshal, and secondly, you commended the committee’s policy change saying, “I have no trouble with the decision at all...I think the decision is a wise one.” 

Honestly, Your Eminence, when I read this I felt like I had been punched in the stomach by my own father. The emotional blow was greater than the physical could ever have been. 

Regarding your statement that the decision was “wise,” you cite the committee’s worry about a seemingly invincible perception that the parade’s policy was biased and discriminatory, even though you believed the policy was neither. If this be so, surely the only response is to continue to speak the truth with clarity and charity—till kingdom come, if necessary. Acceding to what is false abets falsehood.

But let’s allow that somehow, some avoidable harm is done by the perception of some that the parade’s policy is unfair. I would argue that such a “scandal” is a piker compared to the one that you have now brought upon us. That is, the scandal of dereliction: the perception—however incorrect—that a prince of the Church is backing away from bedrock Catholic teaching, or is reluctant to uphold it. You said the most important question you asked yourself was whether the new policy “violate[s] Catholic faith or morals.” Indeed. Even assuming it does not, was equal consideration given to the potential for creating new scandal among the faithful, as was given to addressing the sensitivities of those who, for the most part, oppose or are indifferent to Church teaching?

Because here’s how the “messaging” is working out here in the vineyard, with help from the secular press: this is one more sign that the Church is gradually redefining its teaching on sexuality. It’s getting with the program. This false message will reach a crescendo on March 17, 2015, when you preside as Grand Marshal: the TV broadcast will use a split screen to show the smiling and waving Grand Marshal, leader of the American Church, on one side, and gay-identifying marchers under gay-identified banners, on the other. I can only guess what the New York Post will put on their cover the next morning. The point is, as unfounded as this message might be, it does and will press hard on the hearts of the faithful, sowing confusion and discouragement. I have yet to speak to a single Catholic who isn’t profoundly discomfited by your response. Not one. And wasn’t the decision to change the parade’s policy based upon addressing a stubborn, but false, perception?

As a vexing side note, perhaps the most ill-served of all by this new scandal are those who are contending bravely against the affliction of same-sex attraction, who may well see—or want to see—this as an invitation to give up the struggle to be chaste.

Which brings us to identity, and the most perplexing part of your explanation: the jaw dropping claim that “while actions are immoral, identity is not!” [Your exclamation point]. The best I can construe here is that you intended to say “predilection” or “proclivity,” not identity. We are all sinners called to repentance, with different predominant vices. But we know that any sinful tendency, whether by genetic predisposition or choice, can be overcome through cooperation with grace. To identify oneself with one’s sin is not to repent of it but to become it. To call yourself “gay” means you do it. To march under a banner with that word means you’re proud of it. This is a fact almost too elementary to labor. Surely Your Eminence is not the only one in New York who understands that any group calling itself OUT is, like the magazine, an advocate.

By your reasoning, the Parade Committee must also include pick pockets, pedophiles and prevaricators of Irish ancestry—even if they have not come up with a nice euphemism for their favorite vice. That is, of course, as long as they are just identifying, not advocating. You wrote, “if the Parade Committee allowed itself to publicize its advocacy of any actions contrary to Church teachings, I would object.” Well, there are your grounds for objecting. If you doubt me, why don’t you meet with some members of OUT@NBCUniversal and ask them if they are proud of their lifestyle and would encourage anyone with same-sex attraction to embrace it. (And while you’re at it, you might ask how many of their members are of Irish ancestry.)

I happen to right now be reading Whittaker Chambers’ majestic apologia, Witness. In the opening chapter, written as a letter to his beloved children, he defines a witness as “a man whose life and faith are so completely one that when the challenge comes to step out and testify for his faith, he does so, disregarding all risks, accepting all consequences.” Right now, Iraqi Christians are witnessing to their faith by suffering bloody martyrdom. Like all people of good will, I am horrified by the stories and images I see. But I am also edified by their courage. I entreat you as our shepherd, to be a witness for your flock. In these daunting days, we need a Braveheart. 

Please prayerfully reconsider your statements, decry the committee’s decision, and step down as Grand Marshal. 

Respectfully yours in Christ,

Douglas Dewey

Douglas Dewey works in the health care field and formerly worked in the financial industry in Manhattan. He and his wife have ten children and attend Mass at Holy Innocents Parish in Pleasantville, New York.

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

, ,

Are you praying for the upcoming Synod on the Family? You should be, and here’s why

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

Catholics, and all Christians who value family values, should be praying earnestly for the Catholic Church as a struggle over critical family issues is coming to a head in the run-up to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which takes place October 5-19. 

Augmenting the concerns is the fact that some of the cardinals closest to Pope Francis himself are increasingly in public disagreement over crucial matters related to faith and family. For some, the concerns reach right to the pope himself.

While Synod preparations have been going on for a year, Sunday’s weddings of 20 couples in St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope Francis presented a figurative, and perhaps foreboding launch.

In a press release prior to the ceremony, the Rome diocese inexplicably went out of its way to highlight the fact that some of couples the pope was going to marry were cohabiting. "Those who will get married Sunday are couples like many others,” it said. “There are those who are already cohabitating; who already have children.”

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream press took the bait and seized upon this statement to run headline after headline pushing the confusing notion that the event was a prelude to, or evidence of, a change in Church teaching on marriage.

Headlines like: 

All I can do is pray that the public fallout from these wedding ceremonies does not foreshadow the public outcome of the Synod. If so, we could be headed for a tragedy akin to the tragedy of the late sixties when, despite the proclamation of the truth of Humanae Vitae against contraception, the effect among ordinary Catholics was a near universal rejection of the teaching in practice.

What to expect at the Synod

The official list of those taking part in the Synod includes 114 presidents of Bishops’ Conferences, 13 heads of Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, 25 heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, nine members of the Ordinary Council for the Secretariat, the Secretary General, the Undersecretary, three religious elected by the Union of Superiors General, 26 members appointed by the Pontiff, eight fraternal delegates, and 38 auditors, among whom are 13 married couples and 16 experts.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of Cardinal Kasper’s intervention at the Consistory of Cardinals earlier this year, in which he laid out a contentious proposal to allow Catholics who have been divorced and then ‘remarried’ outside the Church to receive Communion. 

Since then a bevy of heavy-hitter cardinals have fought that proposal, including:

Today, however, Cardinal Kasper said the “attacks” from these cardinals were not so much directed at him but at Pope Francis, since, claims Kasper, he discussed his intervention with the pope and gained his approval.

The claim has some basis, since the day after Kasper made the proposal, before it was made public, Pope Francis praised it publicly.  According to Vatican Information Service, the Holy Father said:

I read and reread Cardinal Walter Kasper's document and I would like to thank him, as I found it to be a work of profound theology, and also a serene theological reflection. It is pleasant to read serene theology. And I also found what St. Ignacius described as the 'sensus Ecclesiae', love for the Mother Church. ... It did me good, and an idea came to mind – please excuse me, Eminence, if I embarrass you – but my idea was that this is what we call ‘doing theology on one's knees’. Thank you, thank you.

Of note, Vatican correspondent Sébastien Maillard, writing for France’s La Croix, reports today that Pope Francis is “irritated” by the release of a book containing criticisms of the Kasper proposal by five cardinals.

As LifeSiteNews.com reported yesterday, one of those authors, Cardinal Raymond Burke, is being demoted from his headship of the Apostolic Signatura. The only post planned for the 66-year-old cardinal thus far is patron of the Order of Malta. 

Cardinal Burke’s pre-Synod interventions go beyond the divorce and remarriage question and into the matter of homosexuality.  In a recent interview Cardinal Burke gave a clear refutation of the misuse of Pope Francis’ famed ‘Who am I to judge’ quote to justify homosexuality.

While the issue of the Church’s teachings on homosexuality is seldom raised in reference to the Synod, with most of the emphasis being placed on the question of divorce and remarriage, it is mentioned in the working document, or ‘Instrumentum Laboris’, of the Synod.

As with the matter of divorce, no doctrine regarding homosexuality can be changed, but much confusion can still be sown under the auspices of adjustments to “pastoral” practice. Without a clear teaching from the Synod, the effects could be similar to the shift in “pastoral” practice among dissenting clergy after the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, which led to the use of artificial contraception by most Catholics.

Already and for many years there has been de facto broad acceptance of homosexual sexual practices in many Catholic schools, universities and many other institutions, with many staff being active homosexuals in open defiance of Catholic moral teaching.

Regarding the Synod’s deliberations on homosexuality, it does not bode well that one of Pope Francis’ personal appointees to the Synod is retired Cardinal Godfried Danneels.  The selection is remarkable because of Danneels was caught on tape in 2010 urging a victim who had been sexually abused by a bishop-friend of Danneels, to be silent.  Then, only last year Danneels praised as a “positive development” that states were opening up civil marriage to homosexuals.

Then, just this week, as reported on the Rorate Caeli blog, one of the three Synod presidents gave an interview with the leading Brazilian newspaper in which he said that while stable unions between homosexual persons cannot be equated to marriage, the Church has always tried to show respect for such unions.

The statement matches that of another prominent Synod participant, Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who in 2010 spoke of giving more consideration to ‘the quality’ of homosexual relationships. “We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships. A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous,” Schönborn said.

In the end, while there is currently a public battle in the Vatican that is unprecedented in modern history, the faith will not and cannot change.  As faithful Catholics, and Christians, we must cling to the Truths of Christ regarding the family and live them out in our own lives first and foremost.  That is difficult, to be sure, especially in our sex-saturated culture, but with Christ (and only with Him) all things are possible. 

Plead with heaven for the pope and the bishops in the Synod.  LifeSiteNews will be there reporting from Rome, and, with your prayers and support, be of service to those defending truth.

Share this article

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook