Australian Bishop Says Catholic Hospitals Will Not Use Embryonic Stem Cell Treatments

Bishop Anthony Fisher of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia told the Australian parliament today that Australian Catholic hospitals would not use treatments for their patients that had been developed through embryonic stem cells.

The Catholic Church maintains that embryonic stem cell research is morally evil because it necessitates the death of the embryo, a living person in the very earliest stage of development. In the introduction to Donum Vitae, an official Instruction written in 1987 from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it says “From the moment of conception, the life of every human being is to be respected in an absolute way.”

Bishop Fisher explained the Church’s position, “I think if in fact what the cures involved was using parts taken from very early human beings that had been killed to get those cells, and then lines grown from them for that purpose, we'd have to say that you couldn't morally cooperate in that activity.”

Catholic health organizations maintain over 8,600 beds in small and large hospitals throughout Australia.

Dr. Sally Cockburn, a GP and radio commentator in Melbourne, was critical of the Church’s policy. “I really would question whether this is putting the patient first,” she said. Dr. Cockburn also wondered if the Catholic hospitals would be allowed to refuse certain treatments for their patients if the hospitals were receiving government funding.

Australia currently has a ban on human cloning so no new embryos may be made for research purposes. However, scientists may use stem cells from spare IVF embryos.

The Catholic Church encourages and supports research in adult stem cell therapy since adult stem cells are harvested in such a way as to not cause harm to the donor.

(This article courtesy of

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