Vatican Condemns Obama's Stem-Cell OK

By Caitlin Millat
|  Tuesday, Mar 10, 2009  |  Updated 10:15 AM EDT
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Cardinal Justin Rigali is one of many in the Vatican angry at Obama's decision to lift the stem-cell ban.

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The Vatican Tuesday condemned President Barack Obama's landmark decision to allow stem-cell research, calling the move a cold and unethical decision even as scientists lauded the breakthrough measure.

An article in the Vatican newspaper Monday slammed the decision, with Catholic critics saying that the true test of a "real democracy" is how it protects its "most defenseless," Reuters reported. The Catholic Church has long spoken out against stem-cell research because it requires the destruction of embryos.

"This action is morally wrong because it encourages the destruction of innocent human life, treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested," said Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia.

Rigali said the decision was "a sad victory of politics over ethics."

Scientists disagreed with Catholic objectors and said Obama's lifting of the ban could usher in a new and hopeful frontier for medical research.

Harvard Stem Cell Institute co-director Doug Melton, who has two children with Type I diabetes who could benefit from stem-cell treatment, said that the decision is "an enormous relief and a time for celebration."

"Science thrives when there is an open and collaborative exchange, not when there are artiifcal barriers, silos, constructed by the government," he told the Associated Press.

CEO Alan Leshner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said lifting the ban had made scientists more happy than he'd seen in his career.

The President's decision to lift the ban was also praised by Nancy Reagan, who has long pushed for stem-cell research.

Obama and the Pope will likely hash out issues over stem-cell regulation when the two meet in July in Italy for a G8 summit.

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