Former Pope Endorses Stem Cell Research

In recent years, stem cell research has become almost as much of a hot-button issue as abortion — at least among the social conservative creationist types — and for essentially the same reason. Stem cells are alive — alive! — and they have the potential to grow into human organs. And life is a miracle, which means that those little stem cells are miracles, and therefore to “harvest” them from aborted fetuses for diabolical research is — well, it’s just plain evil.

[Begin mock rant:] We got trouble, and that starts with “T” and that rhymes with “P” and that stands for pool! Oh yeah, and stem cell starts with “S”, and so does sodomy, and so does science, and so does Satan. Next thing you know they’ll be teaching godless evolution, and then … [Okay, end of simulated rant.]

We can also do a rant mocking the lefties — you know, about danger of lower taxes, less regulation, smaller government, more free enterprise — all that unthinkably wicked stuff. We won’t do that because it upsets some of you and it doesn’t really fit here, but every now and then we like to remind you that you shouldn’t get smug — both parties are nuts, each in its own way.

Enough ranting. Let’s take a look at what’s being reported by Fox News: Catholic Church gives its blessing to stem cell research in new book. This should be fun! Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

[W]ith the release of The Healing Cell: How the Greatest Revolution in Medical History Is Changing Your Life, the Catholic Church has given its stamp of approval on adult stem cell research by discussing the many ways these therapies work for the greater good. In fact, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote the book’s introduction, which was co-authored by Dr. Robin Smith and Monsignor Tomasz Trafny, along with Max Gomez.

The Church approves of adult stem cell research. That’s not quite so evil as the embryonic kind, but one step leads to another … . Here’s the book at Amazon: The Healing Cell: How the Greatest Revolution in Medical History is Changing Your Life. There are no reviews yet; it won’t be released until 02 April. Okay, back to Fox News:

In order to resolve the long-standing debate over embryonic stem cells, the medical and religious communities have started coming together in order to find a common solution upon which they can both agree.

Smith [one of the authors] currently serves as the chairman and CEO of NeoStem, a company focused on cord blood banking and stem cell manufacturing. The organization has developed a cardiovascular adult stem cell treatment known as AMR-001, which harvests bone marrow from a patient’s hip, and then re-inserts the cells into a damaged heart to promote healing.

Cord blood banking. Remember that phrase. Let’s read on:

Smith’s co-author Trafny, is head of the Science and Faith Department of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture. He told FoxNews.com the committee joined forces with NeoStem, because it wants Catholics to know they don’t have to make a choice between science and faith.

Aha — the Pontifical Council on Culture. We’ve written about them before. The Discoveroids hate them so they must be okay (see Discovery Institute’s Advice to Pope Francis). We continue:

Trafny explained the church is fully in support of using adult stem cells in scientific research, especially when it will be for the betterment of society. He said some people have a misconception that the cord blood banked from a newborn contains embryonic stem cells, when in fact, they are actually adult stem cells.

[…]

Trafny said the council likes NeoStem because the company was clear from the beginning that it did not use embryonic stem cells; it focused solely on adult stem cells. “They are focused on ethical science, and their view is to preserve life,” Smith said of the pontifical council. “Stem cells are the future of science, and the church supports this endeavor and believes it will have a positive effect on humanity.”

Here’s more — hey, this is neat:

When it comes to banking umbilical cord blood stem cells, Smith likened the process to an insurance policy. “What better medicine to have than your own stem cells banked forever?” she added. “You hope you don’t need them for cancer or leukemia, but if these therapies continue to emerge – where you can restore sight, or treat lupus and diabetes – having your stem cells stored is like a bio-insurance for yourself for the future.”

Smith said if doctors can find a way to treat diseases that are causing people to suffer around the world and do it in an ethical way – what more could you want from science and medicine? “That’s why (Pope Emeritus) Benedict wrote the forward,” she told FoxNews.com. “Because (the Vatican) realizes how important this will be to humanity.”

It all sounds good to us. This research makes so much sense that there’s certain to be a creationist backlash. We can imagine them in their “think tanks” and their creation museums, wringing their hands, churning this over in their minds, and then coming to the conclusion that it’s the start of a slippery slope greased by Rome, and it can only lead to more science. And then more, and more, and then … the Lake of Fire! So we’ll be watching.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “Former Pope Endorses Stem Cell Research

  1. The first nut to mention that the Catholic Church is “the Great Whore” wins! Bonus salvation points will be awarded to those who ambiguously link the ex-Pope to the Nazis.

  2. Seeing as the die hard creationists of the big tent mostly think the Catholic Church is the equivalent of Satan on Earth, I don’t think this really creates a new dynamic. Since the days of Luther, the papacy has been regarded as the anti-Christ. Though, I think there are about 1.2 billion people who would disagree.

    Having spent 23 years in Catholic educational institutions (K-Postgrad), I can tell you this isn’t really a new idea for the Catholic Church. They’ve long been ok with the idea of using “adult”, aka, partially differentiated stem cells, that come from umbilical cords or from adult donors, for research and medical therapies. Their beef is with totipotent embryonic stem cells that, given a uterus to attach to, could mature into a fully formed human, or with stem cells obtained from aborted fetuses.

    They are even ok with occasional use of partially differentiated embryonic cells if “no other means” is available to bring forth the “good” of advanced medical care AND if the fetuses in question were not aborted specifically for the purpose of obtaining their stem cells. That’s what they call the moral principle of double effect. It’s also why they are ok with using MMR and Varicella vaccines, which are incubated in human fibroblast lines obtained from a few aborted fetuses many years ago.

    The Catholic Church appears to have learned something from the Gallileo debacle, even if it took them 500 years to formally apologize. They seem to generally take the stance that science and religion are two separate enterprises except where science directly contradicts what they view as moral behavior. Which is why even though I disagree with many things they say and do, I can at least respect them, unlike the big tent creationists who are devoid of any moral principles.

    I have no intention of getting into an ethical or political debate, especially since that’s not the point of this forum. However, from a purely pragmatic standpoint it seems to make sense to use adult stem cells which are already closer to the tissue in question rather than starting from scratch with a genetically unrelated cell from an aborted fetus. There are so many steps involved in cell differentiation, and so many problems involved in overcoming immune mediated rejection of foreign tissues that it makes sense to use a person’s own banked stem cells.

  3. And Ex-Pope Palpatine is qualified to give medical advice how? Why exactly should anyone listen to a word he has to say for or against any medical research?

  4. Artor

    i think you’re missing the point. the former pope is not offering medical advice but stating the stance on the morality or lack thereof regarding a line of scientific inquiry. he and the pontifical council have educated themselves on the basics of the research. unlike creationists they are not denying the validity of science.