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Tuesday, 29 August, 2000, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Pope condemns human cloning
Embryo research
Debate rages on the ethics of using human embryo cells for theraputic purposes
By David Willey in Rome

Pope John Paul has condemned the cloning of human embryos and called on scientists to respect the dignity of human beings.

But, speaking at an international scientific meeting in Rome, he has encouraged organ transplants and organ donation, providing there is no commercialisation of human body parts.

The Pope attaches huge importance to the ethics of developments in modern medicine.

His decision to travel from his summer residence to a congress hall on the city outskirts, where doctors and scientists are holding a six-day international congress on organ transplants, was unusual.

Donation encouraged

In his paper, the Pope encouraged the donation of organs as a genuine act of love.

Philipines men display the scars from kidney removal operations
These Filipino men sold their kidneys for donation
But he warned that any attempt to commercialise human organs or consider them as items of barter or trade must be considered morally unacceptable.

He went on to condemn all experiments in the cloning of human embryos, even with a view to obtaining new organs for transplant.

These techniques, the Pope said, insofar as they involve the manipulation and destruction of human embryos, are not morally acceptable, even when their proposed goal is good in itself.

Alternative

The Pope pointed scientists toward adult stem cells as the acceptable route for research in this field.

Both Britain and the United States have recently announced legislation permitting medical research with stem cells that have been removed from human embryos.

The Pope's support for organ donations could have an important effect in predominantly Catholic countries like Italy, where there is an acute shortage of donor offers.

People here are reluctant to offer their organs for transplant after death because of traditional Catholic ideas about the importance of the integrity of the human body at death.

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29 Aug 00 | Talking Point
Should human cloning be legalised?
16 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Head-to-head: Human cloning
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