Saturday, May 09, 2009

French Bishop to government: “We were all embryos once”

France is holding an Estates General on Bioethics to examine what to do about embryo research and surrogate motherhood.

In response, Msgr. Marc Aillet, bishop of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron issued a press release affirming the right to life of all human beings, condemning embryonic stem cell research and questioning the Council of State's decision to allow embryo research, all the while this consultation process is taking place.

A press release from Msgr Aillet, Bishop of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron on the occasion of the Estates General on Bioethics.

“We were all embryos once”

As the Estates General on Bioethics is under way and the French have entered an active phase of reflection destined to lead to a dispassionate debate, the press has reported of a recommendation from the Council of State that would authorize research on embryos.

If one of the highest authorities in the Republic takes a stance even before the Estates General announced by the government have concluded, isn’t there a risk of confusing the democratic debate?

Furthermore, the principal question remains : were we not all embryos?

If a person’s dignity is reduced to his size or his state of development, those people who do not correspond to those models in vogue would have reason to worry. And those who have escaped the “selective triage”, should they apologize for existing?

We all know, and scientists most of all, that cells produced from the umbilical cord have immense therapeutic potential comparable to that of embryonic cells. Adult stem cells are also very promising. In those two cases, research does not raise any ethical problems. In contrast, embryonic stem cell research, the prospects of which are hypothetical, is gravely immoral because it requires the destruction of embryos.

How can we not discern behind this zealous focus on the embryo a violence committed against every human being and definitively against God?

The temptation for man to set himself up as the master of life over his fellow men is leading the world on the road to a barbarism without name of which contemporary history still bears the stigma.

Also, in inviting itself to the Estates General on Bioethics, the Church does not only accomplish her civil duty, but also her prophetic mission, which consists in recalling the dignity of every human person, from conception until natural death.

The promotion of the “principle of dignity” is the only means to guarantee equality in society, above all by protecting the weakest and most vulnerable. Is not the first objective of the law to favour social friendship between all, without discrimination between life and life?

A law that does not favour this friendship is more of a violence than a law.

We were all embryos once, too “so in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you “ (Mt. 7:12).

Now if only all bishops were this supportive and this frank.