Position of the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey on Stem Cell Research
The Catholic Church has been committed to the care and healing of the sick from its very beginning. When Jesus commissioned the Apostles to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) he also told them that those who believed in his name should be healers, “They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mark 16:18). In America, Catholic Hospitals and Catholic Charities have continued that apostolic mission and are at the leading edge of care for the ill, those who are poor and especially those who are uninsured or underinsured.
Following this tradition to be healers, the Catholic Church strongly supports adult or non-embryonic stem cell research and treatment. In New Jersey, our Catholic hospitals are a major source for the collection of cord blood, placentas and amniotic fluid – all of which are rich in non-embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells have already helped thousands of patients with life threatening diseases and debilitating conditions. Over 70 clinical uses of adult stem cells have produced successful treatments for conditions such as diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, corneal regeneration, Crohn’s disease and immune deficiencies.
In contrast, embryonic stem cell research has yet to provide a single successful clinical treatment. Moreover, harvesting embryonic stem cells requires the destruction of human embryos. The Catholic Church teaches human life begins at conception and must be absolutely protected from that moment of conception. The Catholic Church can never approve support for embryonic stem cell research which requires the destruction of innocent human life.
Adult stem cell research has a proven track record and we support adult stem cell research and therapy. We speak out against embryonic stem cell research and the allocation of monies for research which, in our judgment, fails to respect the sacredness of human life at its beginning.
We call upon all people to respect life especially the lives of the most vulnerable among us – the child in a mother’s womb.