Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino Migliore,
Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United
Before the Sixth Committee, on item 150:
Against the reproductive cloning of human beings
New York, 21 October 2004
Human cloning has now been on the
agenda of the United Nations since the end of 2001.
From the beginning, it has appeared
clear that, in spite of the agenda item’s name, “International
against the reproductive cloning of human beings”, the purpose of this
has actually been to find a juridical framework that would allow and
the advancement of medical science in the procurement and use of stem
to identify and ban practices that would be disrespectful to human
From a purely scientific point of
view, the therapeutic progress already achieved with so-called adult
namely stem cells from bone marrow, cord blood, and other mature tissues
very promising. Embryonic cloning, for its part, is as yet far from
the progress that its advocates suggest. There has
yet to be a definite clinical success using cloned embryonic stem cells
animal experiments. The work that would make it safe to experiment in
manner on human beings will likely take a very long time, and these
may never be overcome.
Moreover, the distinction that is
sometimes drawn between reproductive and therapeutic cloning seems
Both involve the same technical cloning process and differ only in goal.
forms of cloning involve disrespect for the dignity of the human being.
from an ethical and anthropological standpoint, so-called therapeutic
creating human embryos with the intention of destroying them, even if
with the goal of possibly helping sick patients in the future, seems
clearly incompatible with respect for the dignity of the human being,
human life nothing more than the instrument of another. Further, given
that cloned embryos would be indistinguishable from embryos created by
fertilization and could readily be implanted into wombs and brought to
believe it would be practically impossible to enforce an instrument that
one type of cloning while banning the other.
If adult stem cell research has
already demonstrated conditions for success and raises no ethical
is only reasonable that it should be pursued before science embarks on
embryos as a source for stem cells, something which remains problematic
scientifically and ethically.
Does this mean we are opposed to
scientific progress? Rather, we would say that the choice is not between
and ethics, but between science that is ethically responsible and
is not. Thousands of lives have been saved by adult stem cells, most
the treatment of leukemia and other cancers. Solid scientific evidence
established that adult stem cell transplants are safe, and preliminary
suggest they will be able to help people with Parkinson’s disease,
injury, heart damage and dozens of other conditions. The danger is that
progress toward cures will be halted or slowed down by the diversion of
attention and resources towards the cloning of human beings as a
source of stem cells.
Mr. Chairman, my delegation would
like to conclude its remarks by making two final points.
First of all, this Committee and
the General Assembly appear to be the proper fora for our deliberations,
the questions surrounding human embryonic cloning know no boundaries of
geography, culture or season. But even more importantly, the subject of
particular scientific pursuit concerns the nature and existence of human
itself. Therefore a body that is supra-national has the proper scope to
encompass the full breadth of this issue. This matter - of vital
interest to the
human race today and in the future - properly belongs here in this
Secondly, we are convinced that the
subject of human embryonic cloning can be best addressed by a juridical
instrument, since the rule of law is essential to the promotion and
of human life. It is by the rule of law, based on right reason, that
can properly regulate whatever appears to challenge our fundamental
human life and dignity. It is in this regard, Mr. Chairman, that my
based the information Paper, to which reference was made, on the logic
reason and not on religious beliefs.
In conclusion, the Holy See remains
convinced of the wisdom of an international juridical instrument that
comprehensively bans human embryonic cloning.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.