French Bishops Condemned for Defending Embryonic Humans

The New York Times has condemned France's Catholic bishops for defending the sanctity of human life at the embryonic stage. The Times has called the bishops' statement "an attack" that "comes close to a declaration of war."

For twenty years, the French Muscular Dystrophy Association has run an annual fundraising telethon but this year the French Catholic hierarchy has spoken out against the Association's support for using embryos in research. Last year, the popular telethon raised $138 million for research.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, told journalists on Tuesday, "For us, these embryos are not things, but human beings. And from the depths of our faith, we cannot accept that they are selected, destroyed, the objects of experiments."

Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon said in a statement on the diocese website, "We can promote donations to campaigns only if they offer all necessary ethical guarantees on the experiment that they support."

The Fréjus-Toulon website also carried a message from Pierre-Olivier Arduin, a member of the commission for bioethics that said, "It is no longer possible to participate in the telethon. Christians cannot cooperate with evil."

Government officials of the officially secular state responded, "It's not up to the Church to put any pressure on families who have recourse to genetic diagnoses, and even less to make the totality of donors feel guilty."

The Times quoted Bernard Barataud, the president of the Généthon laboratory, who accused the Church of "having mobilized its extreme troops to kindle the controversy and do the dirty work."

Jean-Arnold de Clermont, president of France's Protestant Federation, supported the telethon saying, "Without any intent of parenthood, we don't consider an embryo a full-fledged human being."

Cardinal Ricard, president of the French Conference said that though the issue of the embryos killed in research is "frightening." "The Catholic Church does not call for a boycott of the Telethon. In the fight against this disease, I think initially of the patients, their families, the doctors and the researchers."

The controversy elicited a partial retreat by the bishops' conference that released a statement Thursday saying they did not intend to imply that the telethon ought to be boycotted.

"French bishops who have spoken about the telethon have all praised this work of generosity and solidarity," the statement said.

Cardinal Ricard pointed out that the Muscular Dystrophy Association earmarked less than 2% of the funds raised to embryo research.

French bioethics committees and experts place heavy emphasis on what is called the "project of parenthood" when deciding on the moral status of the embryo. Once the parental or "family project" is complete, that is, once the couple has as many children as they want, the IVF embryos that may remain in storage are regarded as having no legal or moral status.

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  • Guest

    The French Bishop’s were right on, Why did Bishop Ricard get soft on this important issue of life. The other Bishops had set the stage and he nearly ruined it. WE will need to pray for him and for France that they can stand for life without exception. 2% I’m sure includes killing one baby so it is worth making our point clear. Adult stem cells are the way to go. Satan seems to have this generation afixed on killing babies anyway.

  • Guest

    Cardinal Ricard should realize that “the issue of the embryos killed in research is” NOT just “frightening” but is murder and immoral. 2% of $138M is approximately $3M – many babies can be killed with $3M!!

    Interesting thought “Without any intent of parenthood, we don’t consider an embryo a full-fledged human being”, does that mean all illegitimate pregnancies are not “full-fledged” humans but all planned pregnancies are?

    Cardinal Ricard should be ashamed of his actions and should be disciplined by Rome. Catholics should boycott the Telethon.

  • Guest

    Yes – their favorite step – the Bishop Back-Pedal . . .

    NYTimes WANTS war, miter-gents. Take off the slippers, put on the combat boots, make the line in the dirt deeper and clearer, and – say

    ‘YEAH! Okay, boys and girls –
    let’s have it out, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!’

    More than ever –

    MARY KOCHAN for President in 2008

    I remain your obedient servant, but God’s first,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell or …

  • Guest

    The promotion of embryonic stem cell therapy (which shows little, if any, promise) over adult stem cell therapies (which are working) is another case of choosing lifestyle over life.

    After all, embryonic stem cells can be mass produced and sold at great profit, if you have no qualms about treating embryonic children like cattle. Adult stem cell therapies are pretty much done one-off, like surgeries, and won’t make billions for the pharmaceutical companies and their stockholders.