Polish Bishops on
Funding Human Embryo Research
Dignity Is Inviolable.
It Must Be Respected and Protected"
POZNAN, Poland, JUNE 29, 2006
(Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of
the statement published Sunday by the episcopal conference of Poland on
the European Parliament's decision to finance research on human embryos
and embryonic stem cells.
On June 15, 2006, the European Parliament
in the first reading voted on
the seventh Framework Program on scientific research and development,
and called for the European Union funding of research on human embryos
and embryonic stem cells. Given the nature of this decision which
clearly has its ethical dimension, the episcopate of Poland gathered at
the 336th plenary session in Poznan, wish to present their opinion on
We are in favor of scientific development
in the European Union and we
advocate greater funding for scientific research. We respect and
support the right to freedom of research, each man's right to health
and treatment, and the duty to assist those who are ill. We are aware
of the fact that research into human stem cells holds great promise
from a cognitive and therapeutic point of view.
Nevertheless, the result of the vote in
the European Parliament gives
rise to our grave ethical objections since research into human
embryonic stem cells undertaken out of concern for some people's health
and life is done at the expense of destroying other human beings. Such
objections cannot be passed over in silence and therefore, we must
express our determined opposition to the financing of research by the
European Union which leads to the destruction of human embryos.
Research into embryonic cells is carried out at the expense of human
embryos who from their very beginning, that is from the moment of
conception, have the right to that unconditional respect which is
morally due to the human being ("Evangelium Vitae," no. 60).
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
contains a provision that says:
"Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected" (art.
1). Such dignity is due to every human being from conception to natural
death. Treating a human embryo as an object of experiments and, thus
its instrumentalization is a flagrant violation of this dignity.
The Constitutional Court of the Republic
of Poland ruled that such
activities are incompatible with the principle of a democratic state
governed by the rule of law: "A democratic state governed by the rule
of law holds man and his most precious weal as a supreme value. By this
weal, we understand life which in a democratic state governed by the
rule of law must enjoy constitutional protection in each stage of its
development" (Ruling by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of
Poland dated May 28, 1997).
The decision of the European Parliament
also raises serious objections
in view of the fact that the EU fundamental principle of subsidiarity
is not respected in this case. The European Union is expected to
provide funding for research which is incompatible with national legal
systems in place in many member states, including Poland. The area that
provokes such controversy: The regulation of ethical questions belongs
solely to the competence of member states.
Following the decision of the European
Parliament, research which is
unlawful under national law should be financed from the EU budget, and
in this way, also from the contributions of the states where such
research is illegal. The promotion of such a practice in the European
Union would be detrimental to its cohesion, subjectivity and would
clearly lead to unnecessary conflicts. This is why we are outspokenly
against such solutions.
The Polish bishops attending the 336th
plenary session of the
conference of the episcopate of Poland fully endorse the position taken
by the commission of episcopates of the European Community, as
expressed during its plenary session in November 2005. It was later
reiterated by the COMECE bureau in May this year. It is our conviction
that the European Union should focus its research on many other
promising areas also involving stem cells but the ones procured from
As it was expressed in the position of
the Permanent Council and the
Scientific Council of the conference of the episcopate of Poland, Feb.
26, 2004: "such a form of therapy does not raise any ethical doubts and
is a genuine hope for those ill and suffering, unlike the creation and
use of embryonic stem cells."
We urge the European Parliament to revise
its decision on this issue.
It does not promote the cause of respecting dignity of the human being
nor does it serve the common weal. Such a mistaken decision which fails
to take into account a fundamental value, i.e. that of human life,
undermines confidence in the European Union and its decision-making
We call on all people of good will, on
the Council and on the European
Commission, to take all measures in order not to allow the
implementation of the decision taken by the European Parliament on the
financing of research on embryos and embryonic stem cells.
Signed: Polish cardinals, archbishops and
bishops attending the 336th
plenary session of the conference of the episcopate of Poland
Poznan -- Gniezno, June 25, 2006