TORONTO, May 22, 2003 ( – Following the revelation that The Arthritis Society (TAS) of Canada has indicated that it will fund embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) in accordance with Canadian governmental guidelines, the Knights of Columbus (KofC) of Ontario – the primary TAS supporter – has said it is very concerned about the TAS position.  In an interview with LifeSite yesterday, TAS President and CEO Denis Morrice admitted for the first time publicly that TAS would fund such research. He said he was not concerned about a loss of funding from the Knights since TAS offers donors the opportunity to channel funds to different research projects.  When LifeSite contacted KofC Ontario State Council over the matter of TAS and ESCR, the KofC was in the process of reviewing their list of beneficiaries for their major car raffle fundraiser for next year. Ontario State Council Executive Secretary Rick McLauchlan told LifeSite that stances on ESCR would be considered in KofC funding decisions.  LifeSite spoke today with Mr. Grant Ertel the liaison from the KofC Ontario State Council to TAS.  Mr. Ertel expressed concern over TAS’ decision to support ESCR.  Ertel told LifeSite that the KofC has very clear policy against destructive research on embryonic humans and that the statements which originate from the New Haven headquarters of the Knights and those of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops govern the KofC Ontario Council’s stance on such research.  At their annual international meeting in 2001, the KofC passed a resolution on the contentious issue of embryonic stem cell research, urging “researchers and physicians to reject experiments and treatments that destroy human embryos,” and governments to “terminate all federal funding for such research.” The resolution declares: “Destroying human life at any stage of development in order to improve the quality of human life is intrinsically evil.”  Also in 2001, The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), a joint arm of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), and the Knights of Columbus issued a statement on embryonic stem cell research.  The letter argues against the use of ‘spare’ embryos from fertility treatments for experimentation. The statement totally condemned embryonic stem cell research “knowing that the research subject, a human being, will be destroyed.”  The paper stresses that “No amount of public benefit can ever justify the deliberate killing of a human being.”  Given that the Catholic Church, and thus the KofC, considers ESCR a matter of life and death, the TAS’s confidence in continued funding from the Knights may be misplaced. In the interview with LifeSite TAS President Morrice indicated he was unaware of the serious nature of the controversy surrounding ESCR by inappropriately comparing objections over ESCR to a controversy over funding sign language programs.  To express your concerns to TAS:  The Arthritis Society (National Office)  393 University Avenue, Suite 1700 Toronto, Ontario M5G 1E6 CANADA Phone: 416-979-7228 Fax: 416-979-8366 E-mail: [email protected]   See related LifeSite coverage:  ARTHRITIS SOCIETY DOES NOT OBJECT TO FUNDING EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH KNIGHTS PASS PRO-LIFE RESOLUTIONS INCLUDING ON STEM CELL RESEARCH CANADIAN CONFERENCE OF BISHOPS ISSUES STEM CELL DOCUMENT