WASHINGTON (September 15, 2006)—Speaking at a conference in Rome co-sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life, an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said today that embryonic stem cell research continues to pose the ethical problem of destroying human embryos, but increasingly poses the ethical problem of deceiving the public as well.
Richard M. Doerflinger, Interim Executive Director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, delivered his brief talk as part of an international congress titled "Stem Cells: What Future for Therapy?" taking place September 14-16 at the Augustinianum Institute, adjacent to St. Peter's Square in Rome. The congress, featuring researchers from around the world who have published advances in the use of non-embryonic stem cells, is also co-sponsored by the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations.
Mr. Doerflinger said the recent scandal involving Dr. Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology, who claimed he had obtained stem cells from human embryos without harming them, is "the latest in a series of deceptions" by those promoting embryonic stem cells.
"Many speeches, news stories, and advertisements have declared that these cells offer a cure for Alzheimer's disease – despite the nearly universal scientific consensus that they do not," he said. "One expert at the National Institutes of Health explained this discrepancy between political message and scientific fact by commenting: 'To start with, people need a fairy tale'."
"In fact," said Mr. Doerflinger, "we do not need a fairy tale. We need the truth. But a fairy tale is what we are sometimes getting – not only from politicians and entrepreneurs but from respected scientific journals. This must change, or science itself will lose credibility."
The full text of Mr. Doerflinger's remarks is available at http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/RDRome91506speech.pdf