VATICAN CITY, August 30, 2001 ( – Experimentation on human embryos could lead to a new type of slavery by creating a “sub-category” of human beings: unborn children manipulated to serve the purposes of others, the Vatican warned yesterday. The statement was part of a document released by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace for the 8-day U.N. conference on racism that starts Friday in South Africa.

The document said “the unborn child as the subject of experimentation and technological intervention” is part of “new and dramatic forms of discrimination,” including artificial procreation, the use of “superfluous” embryos and “so-called therapeutic cloning.” Caution about the “temptation of eugenics” was also expressed, “especially if powerful commercial interests exploit it,” and governments and scientists were urged to be highly vigilant about trying to create a better human being through genetic manipulation.

The Holy See also encouraged nations to apologize or express regret for past behavior towards enslaved persons, at the same time suggesting that calculating compensation for descendants would be difficult.