(LANSING)—In an effort to communicate the Catholic Church’s teaching on human life as it relates to adult and embryonic stem cell research, the Michigan Catholic Conference today announced the state’s seven diocesan bishops have launched a monumental internal education program that includes over 500,000 Catholic homes and nearly 800 parishes.
The Church’s support for adult stem cell research and opposition to embryonic stem cell research comprise the central messages of the statewide education program, said the Conference’s Vice President for Public Policy Paul A. Long. “Medical science, along with people from different faith and political backgrounds, has recognized that human cloning and the destruction of living embryos for research purposes may not be the most promising way to move forward with stem cell research. Yet because of the great deal of attention given to unproven embryo destructive research, partly through misinformation and even deceit, necessary funding for and the promotion of adult stem cell research have been nearly non-existent. Many people are unaware that adult stem cells are located throughout the human body and are providing treatments, even cures, without harming the donor person.”
As part of the internal education program, which has the theme “The Science of Stem Cells: Finding Cures and Protecting Life,” every registered Catholic home in the state has been sent a letter signed jointly by the state’s diocesan bishops, a 12-minute DVD and a brochure that all emphasize the Church’s support for adult stem cell research. According to the bishops’ letter: “Catholics have the right and duty to assist all who are suffering, and medical science, through adult stem cell research and its proven track record of success, has opened a door of hope. We urge you and your family to spend a few moments reviewing the enclosed material and learning more about the ways by which we can find cures and protect life.”
In addition to the statewide household mailing, every parish in the state has been encouraged by its diocesan bishop to address the issue of stem cell research on Respect Life Sunday, October 7. Parishes have received from the Conference a packet of informational material that includes a question and answer document, sample bulletin announcements, and the aforementioned DVD and brochure. Approximately 200,000 copies of the Conference’s FOCUS essay, which addresses the public policy of stem cell research, have also been distributed across the state. Catholic hospitals, universities, schools, charity agencies and fraternal organizations have also received educational material.
The DVD that is included with the mailing to Catholic homes and parishes features testimonials from patients who, defying medical diagnoses, have made significant advances following adult stem cell therapies. The DVD dissects the scientific differences between adult and embryonic stem cell research, includes an interview with a nurse and bioethicist who addresses the effects of egg extraction and human cloning on women, and features two prominent scientists urging public support for adult stem cell research.
Adult stem cell research is currently treating over 70 different medical conditions such as Type-1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, numerous forms of cancer, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, and many others. Research using adult stem cells does not harm the donor person as those stem cells may be retrieved from fat tissue, dental pulp, the amniotic fluid that surrounds unborn babies, umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, and other locations throughout the human body. A full list of those conditions benefiting from adult stem cell research can be found here [Link no longer available —Ed.]. The Catholic Church is opposed to embryonic stem cell research because it necessitates the destruction of the human embryo in order to extract its stem cells and leads to human cloning. Such research has never produced a single treatment or cure.
Michigan’s Catholic diocesan bishops are: His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida, Archbishop of Detroit; Most Reverend Patrick R. Cooney, Bishop of Gaylord; Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley, Bishop of Grand Rapids; Most Reverend James A. Murray, Bishop of Kalamazoo; Most Reverend Carl F. Mengeling, Bishop of Lansing; Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample, Bishop of Marquette; and Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Bishop of Saginaw.
Editor’s Note: The 12-minute DVD, along with additional information produced by the Michigan Catholic Conference as part of the statewide education program, may be accessed using the following links.
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.