U.N. Should Have Done More to Ban Cloning, Says Bishop

Vatican Official Wishes Declaration Were Binding on Nations

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 9, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See agreed with the U.N. call to ban all types of human cloning, but lamented that the pronouncement wasn't made binding on countries.



On Tuesday, after an intense debate, a U.N. declaration was approved, 84-34, with 37 abstentions, prohibiting all human cloning, including the so-called therapeutic kind.

In 2002, European countries proposed a treaty that would ban cloning worldwide. That proposal -- which would have had a compulsory character -- was not approved, given some countries insisted on allowing cloning of human embryos for research purposes.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, lamented that the declaration, though a formal pronouncement, "then is not respected by countries with less scruples."

The bishop said on Vatican Radio that it is a "grave symptom" that the U.N. General Assembly "does not have the strength, the courage, to assert certain principles of humanity which are essential."

There are economic interests that hide behind patents that "abuse the human being as if he were a medicine," contended the prelate.

Yet, Bishop Sgreccia regarded the declaration's ethical character as a "positive event," as "it means that the majority of nations that are in the U.N. regard cloning as a threat against the human being, against his dignity and life."

It is not necessary to take recourse to the elimination or cloning of human lives, he said, as "scientific research is having marvelous successes with all the somatic stem cells, namely, those that come from the umbilical cord, or from several parts of the adult body."