In today's Albuquerque Journal, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe wrote a clear explanation of the Roman Catholic Church's stand on the issue of embryonic stem cell research entitled Church Believes in Cures That Don't Sacrifice Life. I think that this is one of the clearest statements I have seen as to why many Christians oppose embryonic stem cell research. Here is part of what Archbishop Sheehan had to say:
Even a small embryo is a human being. We all started out as embryonic stem cells. To harvest embryonic stem cells— even to help human life— is wrong because it kills the embryo. It means in effect using tiny human body parts for scientific purposes.
The end does not justify the means.
We know that the genetic package is really complete when conception takes place and sonar pictures of the living infant in the womb clearly show human life as it grows and develops.
Human-life issues are the bedrock of our faith. Respect for life is central to Catholicism, and thus we defend every life where it is threatened— from conception to natural death. We are committed to a consistent ethic of life. Hence, we oppose abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia and capital punishment. As a religious leader I have a serious obligation to share this teaching with others. I am aware that some will not agree.
Some will say that human embryos are in frozen storage and ultimately will be discarded anyway so why is it wrong to try and get some good out of them? Well, in the end we will all die anyway, but that gives no one the right to kill us.
These embryos will not die because they are inherently unable to survive, but rather because others are choosing to hand them over for destructive research instead of letting them implant in their mother's womb. The idea of experimenting on human beings because they may die anyway also imposes a grave threat to convicted prisoners, terminally ill patients and others.
The article by Archbishop Sheehan is short (I think I have published about half of it), and I encourage everyone to take the time to read through and ponder what he has to say. I know that I found it 99% in agreement with my own thoughts.