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Most Reverend Wm. Michael Mulvey speaks out on Stem Cell Research

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Bishop Mulvey speaks out on Stem Cell Research

Most Reverend Wm. Michael Mulvey, S.T.L., DD, Bishop of Corpus Christi
As printed in the "Viewpoints" Section of the September 8, 2011 edition of the Corpus Christi Caller Times.

Embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) has been in the news recently. A topic of both religion and politics, it is important for the public to have an understanding that ESCR is not a scientific breakthrough or borderline science-fiction-sounding pursuit, but literally a battle of life and death.

In July, Geron Corporation announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted the clinical hold placed on the company, allowing it to move forward with the world’s first clinical trial of human embryonic stem cell-based therapy in humans. Only a month later, a federal court issued an injunction against the Obama administration’s funding of human embryonic stem cell research. Before contemplating the &ldquo could” of ESCR, we must consider the &ldquo should”. Before we ask, &ldquo Could science solve this disease or that disease?” we need to ask &ldquo Should we engage in research that destroys young human lives in order to improve the lives of older humans?”

The answer is clearly, unequivocally, no. Embryonic stem cell research, regardless of results, destroys the life of an unborn child. The idea of experimenting on embryonic human beings because they may die anyway is akin to advocating for experimenting on terminally ill patients, convicted prisoners and other humans. We must not condone, nor fund through our taxpayer dollars, the killing of human life for any purpose, including research. We must respect the lives of both unborn children and those who are suffering in our midst, without discrimination. We must help those who are suffering, but we may not use a good end to justify an evil means.

In the same breath, we emphasize that we fully support adult stem cell research since it does not take the life of the donor. Adult stem cell research, which uses cells obtained from adult tissue, umbilical cord blood, and other sources, poses no moral problem because a life is not killed to obtain the stem cells. Adult stem cells have already saved thousands of lives most often in the form of bone marrow transplants (Three years ago I myself donated stem cells for a bone marrow transplant.). They are also used to help people with Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, heart damage, and dozens of other conditions.

Texas’ funding for the Texas Cord Blood Bank is an excellent example of how taxpayer dollars for adult stem cell research are curing people now. The Texas Cord Blood Bank is a division of the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center in San Antonio. The Texas Legislature created the nonprofit program in 2001 to establish a statewide cord blood bank. Cord blood donations from this bank have saved lives. Budget provisions requiring that state funding support this ethically and morally responsible research is simply another way of ensuring that taxpayer dollars fund ethically and morally responsible adult stem cell research - research that is producing cures and treatments.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston- Houston as well as chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaking on the injunction against the Obama administration’s funding of human embryonic stem cell research, stated that, &ldquoa task of good government is to use its funding power to direct resources where they will best serve and respect human life, not to find new ways to evade this responsibility. I hope this court decision will encourage our government to renew and expand its commitment to ethically sound avenues of stem cell research. These avenues are showing far more promise than destructive human embryo research in serving the needs of suffering patients.

Supporting ethically-responsible adult stem cell research, and refusing to ask the &ldquocoulds” of ESCR because it fails the &ldquoshould” test is the responsible avenue of stem cell research. Let’s fund stem cell research we can all live with.

The Most Reverend Michael Mulvey STL, DD, the 8th Bishop of Corpus Christi, holds a Licentiate degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. For more information on the Catholic Church’s teaching on ESCR, visit the Texas Catholic Conference web site at www.TXcatholic.org.

Yes, you are welcome here! Embrace life.


7 October 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

During this month of October, we as Catholics are called to a special awareness of a respect for human life. Human life in all its expressions, life which begins at the moment of conception until a natural death. The words of Jeremiah "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you" (4:5), remind us that each person, every life is sacred to God our Creator. While the Church does not oppose science and medical research life cannot be made subject to human trial and error. Life is an absolute gift from almighty God and it must be treated as such, with respect and dignity.

The human person is created in God's image and likeness. This means that the vocation of every man and woman, even from their mother's womb, is to love. Without love, without Jesus Christ, the full manifestation of God's love, we cannot be our true selves. An exaggerated individualism which creates a self-centered approach to life is at the root of todays' lack of respect for life. As a Catholic community we join with other Christians throughout the world to stand up for life.

I would ask you first and foremost to join with me this month to pray constantly that almighty God will give us the courage, the strength and the wisdom to always be vigilant in giving dignity to human life. Secondly, we have the duty and obligation of being a voice in the controversies that arise against human lives. I am grateful to so many of you who write to your congressman, who march in a prayerful and peaceful way, who join with your brothers and sisters throughout the world in vigil and prayer at abortion clinics, who feed the hungry, visit the incarcerated and assist the immigrant with charity. May you do all these as a sign of hope and mercy inviting those who have hardened their hearts to embrace and promote the gift of life. Always be ready to forgive with the attitude of Christ. Thank you for all that you do to protect life. May we always be faithful to the Lord's command to love and be faithful to the mandates of the gospel, even to the point of loving our enemies.

Please join me this month and always in vigilant prayer for the dignity of human life. One day we will rejoice in the fact that human life is once again recognized as the crown jewel of God's creation.

May God bless you and your families.

Very sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. Wm. Michael Mulvey, STL, DD
Bishop of Corpus Christi

Yes, you are welcome here! Embrace life.

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