October 11, 2007 / 1:04 PM / 10 years ago

Don't use embryos in stem cell research, Pope says

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict appealed to scientists on Thursday to stop using human embryos in stem cell research, saying it violated “the dignity of human life”.

<p>Pope Benedict XVI sits during a bishop ordination mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican September 29, 2007. The Pope appealed to scientists on Thursday to stop using human embryos in stem cell research, saying it violated the dignity of human life. REUTERS/Dario Pignatelli</p>

The Vatican is a proponent of stem cell research as long as it does not harm human embryos, which the Catholic Church holds are humans from the moment of conception.

“The destruction of human embryos, whether to acquire stem cells or for any other purpose, contradicts the purported intent of researchers, legislators and public health officials to promote human welfare,” the Pontiff said.

The Church supports research on adult cells and even promising alternatives to embryonic research, like the use of amniotic fluid protecting fetuses in the uterus.

The Pope said such research methods “harmonize with the aforementioned intent (to promote human welfare) by respecting the life of the human being at every stage of his or her existence”.

The Pontiff made his statements in a letter to South Korea’s new ambassador to the Holy See.

South Korea earlier this year announced plans to removing some of the blocks to human embryonic stem cell research which had been in place since a 2006 scientific scandal involving forged data in stem cell studies.

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