November 15, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an international stem cell conference hosted by the Vatican this past Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI lauded the promises of adult stem cell research, and reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s opposition to any form of research that leads to the destruction of human life.

“The potential benefits of adult stem cell research are very considerable, since it opens up possibilities for healing chronic degenerative illnesses by repairing damaged tissue,” said the pontiff.

“The improvement that such therapies promise would constitute a significant step forward in medical science, bringing fresh hope to sufferers and their families alike.”

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Scientific research offers “a unique opportunity to explore the wonder of the universe, the complexity of nature and the distinctive beauty of life, including human life,” said the pope. However, he continued, in an obvious jab at embryonic stem cell research, there are “limits” to what the natural sciences “are competent to determine.”

“If these limits are transgressed, there is a serious risk that the unique dignity and inviolability of human life could be subordinated to purely utilitarian considerations.”

Those who promote embryonic stem cell research as a potential source of medical cures make the “grave mistake of denying the inalienable right to life of all human beings from the moment of conception to natural death,” said the pope.

“The destruction of even one human life can never be justified in terms of the benefit that it might conceivably bring to another.”

The Vatican stem cell conference brought together some of the most eminent stem cell researchers, with the goal of steering the stem cell field in the direction of focusing on research on adult stem cells.

The conference was held in partnership with Neostem, a U.S. based research firm that focuses on adult stem cell research. The Vatican has invested $1 million in Neostem.

Read the pope’s complete remarks here.