Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stem Cell Research: Backed by the Vatican, No Kidding

This post is mostly about research, stem cells, medicine, and the Catholic Church. But, given some of the cherished beliefs still held in many American subcultures, I'd better make a couple points, with links to where I discussed them:
No kidding: a person could be a practicing Catholic while deliberately avoiding everything the rest of us have learned about creation in the last several centuries. But it's not necessary.

I don't think it's a good idea, either.

Now, about stem cell research:
"Vatican-supported stem-cell research at University of Maryland Medical School holds 'great promise' "
George P. Matysek Jr., The Catholic Review (Archdiocese of Baltimore) (April 28, 2010)

"Leaders in the scientific and faith communities were optimistic that a new international initiative focused on intestinal stem cell research could yield significant medical advances – without fanning the ethical controversies that surround embryonic stem cell research.

"The International Intestinal Stem Cell Consortium, which has the support of the Vatican, will be led by the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. It will include scientists from the Vatican’s children’s hospital, several institutes in Italy and the University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

"The partnership was announced April 23 at a news conference in Rome. A second news conference was held April 28 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

"Dr. Alessio Fasano, a UM professor of pediatrics, medicine and physiology and director of the Mucosal Biology Research Center, told The Catholic Review he hopes the consortium research will lead to real treatments for gastrointestinal conditions such as celiac disease and ulcerative colitis...."
I'm not surprised that the Holy See is backing stem cell research. Propaganda of the last few centuries notwithstanding, science and Catholicism go 'way back. But then, I've been interested in science since I was a pre-teen, majored in history, and try to sort out facts from opinions.

More recently, I've had a very personal stake in learning what the Catholic Church teaches about bioethics: ("Prayer, Medicine and Trusting God" (March 4, 2010), for starters)

Isn't Stem Cell Research Evil?

Whether or not a practicing Catholic can conduct stem cell research depends in part on where the stem cells come from. It's pretty much the same set of rules we have for organ transplants.

Donating your organs is a good thing, and encouraged. Taking someone else's organs with that person's permission is not nice, and we shouldn't do it. Killing the donor is worse. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2296) The Catholic Church teaches that even people who don't look just like us are people, too. Even who haven't been born yet. (Catechism, 2270-2275) Calling someone an "embryo" or "formless mass of protoplasm" doesn't make killing that person okay.

At least, that's what the Catholic Church teaches. We're not even allowed to kill ourselves. Which is another topic.

But stem cells from a source that doesn't involve killing someone? Yeah, the Catholic Church is okay with that. A little more than okay with it: we're backing that sort of stem cell research.

Related posts, mostly about stem cells, bioethics, and Catholic beliefs:

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.