OTTAWA, December 4, 2002 ( – At a recent Commons committee meeting on embryonic stem cell research, Liberal MP Dr. Jeannot Castonguay brought a panel of religious experts on the matter to silence when he asked “What do you think we should do with these leftover embryos that were created for reproduction?”  The panel which included representatives from the Roman Catholic church insisted that human embryos deserve the right to life but did not provide a direct response to the query.  The Vatican has itself struggled with the issue and, while not having made an official pronouncement on the matter, has led with tacit approval of embryo adoption.  When news first broke on the scheduled destruction of thousands of frozen embryos in Britain in 1996, many women stepped forward to accept implantation of the embryos in order to give them a chance to be born.  Most of the women offering to adopt the embryos came from Italy, spurred on by an article appearing in the Catholic Church’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

The August 21, 1996 edition of L’Osservatore Romano contained an article written by Maurizio P. Faggioni, O.F.M entitled The Question of Frozen Embryos.  In it, Rev. Faggioni presented the case for “prenatal adoption” saying it differed substantially from “surrogate motherhood” which has been condemned by the church.  “This solution, suggested as an extreme ratio to save embryos abandoned to certain death, has the merit of taking seriously the value of the embryo’s life, found in such jeopardy, and of courageously accepting the challenge of cryopreservation.  It seeks to check the evil effects of a disordered situation,” he wrote.  Castonguay however was frustrated by the responses he did receive from religious leaders at the November 19 meeting which suggested halting the production of human embryos.  Castonguay asserted that “as a society” we have agreed to use artificial procreation and thus surplus embryos are “a fact of life.”

Hilary White of Campaign Life Catholic told LifeSite, “Castonguay’s comments expose his ignorance of Catholic teaching on the matter as well as the position of countless non-Catholic pro-lifers in Canada.”  She explained that “since in vitro fertilization causes without fail the death of numerous live human embryos, pro-lifers are for the most part opposed to the process.  Moreover the Catholic church has consistently condemned IVF.”  On May 24, 1996 Pope John Paul II made an urgent appeal to scientists to stop artificial creation of human embryos.  “I therefore appeal to the conscience of the world’s scientific authorities and in particular to doctors, that the production of human embryos be halted,” he said.  See the Pope’s appeal to halt embryo production: