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Call for Public Debate on Embryo Research

posted on 06 July 2003
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has today (Sunday 6th July) condemned 'macabre experimentation on aborted human foetuses' and called for a full public debate on the ethics of embryo research. The Cardinal, who has urged the Catholic community to join today’s day of prayer for Human Life and become 'active witnesses to the cause of dignity and life for all', commented:

'We must ask ourselves, what sort of society have we become when we legislate to ban cruelty to foxes but allow the creation, and then destruction of a human life in a test tube? To my mind, and I believe it is a view shared by the majority in our country, human dignity demands that we halt macabre experimentation on aborted human foetuses.

'Today we are asked to pray for Human Life. I would ask all those who care for the unborn to do this and more and become the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves.

“Public witness is a valuable way of expressing our deepest beliefs. We only have to look at the success of the Jubilee 2000 campaign and the growing momentum behind the current Trade Justice movement. The lesson is clear. If we speak with one clear voice against the exploitation of the unborn, if we become active witnesses to the cause of dignity and life for all, we can make a difference. But the longer we remain silent the further the boundaries will be pushed.

“It is no longer enough for oversight of this rapidly expanding area of scientific development, much of which is commercially driven, to be vested solely in an un-elected body of experts (the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority) no matter how eminent. It is time now for people’s instinctive respect for human life to be heard and for there to be a constructive and informed debate at the level of the general public.

“Otherwise, we risk a wholesale intellectual and moral disengagement from these issues of enormous significance for us all, as human beings. We all have a responsibility to take this ethical debate seriously and to engage with the moral dilemmas which today, are shaping tomorrow's world.

' As Pope John Paul II said recently, 'Human life cannot be seen as an object to do with as we please, but as the most sacred and inviolable earthly reality. There can be no peace when this most basic good is not protected. To [the list of world injustices] we must add irresponsible practices of genetic engineering, such as the cloning and use of human embryos for research, which are justified by an illegitimate appeal to freedom, to cultural progress, to the advancement of mankind. When the weakest and most vulnerable members of society are subjected to such atrocities, the very idea of the human family, built on the value of the person, on trust, respect and mutual support, is dangerously eroded. A civilization based on love and peace must oppose these experiments, which are unworthy of man.' (World Day of Peace Message, 1 January 2001)

Contact Details:
Austen Ivereigh
Telephone: 020 7798 9045 or 07905 224860
posted on 06 July 2003

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