Vatican Aide Cautions Obama on Ethics

Says Some Humans Shouldn't Be Used for Others

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By Carmen Villa

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry is warning the president elect of the United States that it is unethical to give the green light to embryonic stem-cell research.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán said this today during a press conference to present the dicastery's upcoming international conference on child illness. He was responding to a question regarding an announcement Sunday from Barack Obama's team that the future president would reverse the policy of George Bush and give the go-ahead to embryonic stem cell research.

A basic principle of bioethics, the cardinal recalled, is that "what builds up man is good, what destroys him is bad."

Noting that human dignity is an end in itself, and not a means that can be manipulated, the Vatican official affirmed: "One person can never be used as a means for another."

It is not possible to kill one human being to save another, he insisted.

Moreover, Cardinal Lozano Barragán noted that there are many other ways to get stem cells, such as by extracting them from the umbilical cord or other organs.

"When we're dealing with transplants that endanger neither the donor nor the receiver, everything is welcome; there is no question to the contrary," he said.

Furthermore, the prelate noted, there is misinformation in the public sphere about stem cells. They were initially presented as a "panacea," he said, but stem cells taken from embryos have yet to give any of the promised results.

Professor Alberto Ugazio, coordinator of the department of pediatric medicine at the Bambino Gesù hospital of Rome, seconded the cardinal's affirmation.

With the use of embryonic stem cells "not even one study has given positive results," he said. Meanwhile, the doctor explained, lives have been saved with stem cells taken from other parts of the body.