BISHOP SALTARELLI' S WRITINGS & LETTERS
Stem Cell Research: A New Threat to Unborn Life
A Pastoral Statement from the Most
Reverend Michael A. Saltarelli to the Catholic People of Delaware
Dear brothers and sisters in
A new threat to unborn life is upon us. Powerful political and economic forces
on both the state and national levels are engaging in a coordinated campaign to
normalize and, in some cases, to obtain tax-payer funds for research that
destroys human embryos for their stem cells (embryonic stem cell research) and
for human cloning. This distressing trend is once again a matter of local
concern in the form of a recently announced bill, the Delaware Regenerative
Medicine Act (Delaware Senate Bill 80 or "SB 80").
I am writing to you today to enlist your aid in opposing SB 80. SB 80 seeks to
promote unethical scientific research involving the killing of human embryos in
order to harvest their embryonic stem cells. SB 80 would encourage parents of
embryos that were created and stored in fertility clinics for the purpose of
implantation and birth, but were later considered to be "excess," to donate such
embryos for scientific research. This research will result in the death of these
embryos. SB 80 also seeks to further scientific research on embryonic stem cells
that will be obtained from killing cloned human embryos, i.e., research cloning.
SB 80 does this by purporting to ban cloning for reproductive purposes while
conspicuously doing nothing to stop cloning for the purpose of scientific
SB 80 fails to recognize that there is an ethical alternative to human embryonic
stem cell research. Adult stem cell research, which does not involve the death
of any human embryos, has already yielded many medical cures, holds the promise
for many more breakthroughs and is a viable alternative to embryonic stem cell
research. Adult stem cells are found throughout the human body, as well as in
ethically sound sources such as donated umbilical cords, cord blood, and
placentas. Unlike adult stem cell research, human embryonic stem cell research,
in addition to being morally wrong, has not yielded a single medical cure. Adult
stem cell research has already yielded many successful treatments for a host of
medical conditions and should be encouraged by state and federal government.
As Christians, we believe that every human life is directly willed by God and is
made in His own image and likeness. For this reason, every human life from the
moment of conception must be treated with the same respect we would want for
ourselves or our loved ones. Furthermore, this inherent dignity of the human
person is present at the earliest stages of life. Our recently departed and
dearly beloved Pope John Paul II once told us: "[From the standpoint of moral
obligation, the mere probability that a person is involved would suffice to
justify an absolute clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing an
embryo…the human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the
moment of conception.." Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae 60. These words of
this great pope ring with a special urgency at this time in history.
Proponents of SB 80 claim that the embryos they seek will be discarded anyway.
Given that SB 80 requires that the parents must give their consent before the
embryos can be used, why cannot these parents be encouraged to save their
children rather than handing them over to be killed for research? The practice
of married couples adopting these embryos may very well be something the state
should encourage as an alternative to killing these embryos for their stem
SB 80 also would promote embryo-destructive research in the related area of
human cloning. While claiming to ban cloning, SB 80 allows unlimited cloning so
long as the clone is killed for research purposes before it can be implanted in
a womb for the purpose of giving birth. It would be our hope to enact a law
that bans all human cloning.
We all know that the rights of the unborn in this country were taken away with
the disastrous Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. The prospect of large-scale,
government funded embryonic stem cell research, however, represents in a sense
an even more chilling specter. Here for the first time in our nation's history,
we will be giving government approval, and eventually if proponents of human
embryonic stem cell research have their way tax-payer money, for the systematic
destruction of innocent human beings so that their body parts can be harvested
for scientific research. This will make human beings into commodities to be
exchanged, manipulated and used for the benefit of other people. Even human
reason unaided by religion tells us that respect for the dignity of the human
person demands at a minimum that human beings should never be treated as mere
means to an end. History shows the horror that result when this easily
understood principle is ignored
Proponents say SB 80 is about promoting life, but in reality this would be done
only by destroying life. This is the nub of the Church's opposition to embryonic
stem cell research -- research that always results in the intentional killing of
innocent human life. This research should not be conducted, regardless of the
good that is said to possibly come out of it. There are some lines that we dare
not cross as a civilized people, and upon which we should be able to agree in a
pluralistic society. The destruction of human embryonic life for research
purposes is one such issue.
Scientists and laypersons alike agree that life begins at conception and every
human person begins life as an embryo. We should nurture and welcome every human
life so that everyone is given a chance to develop into the man or woman God
created them to be.
People should never be treated as mere objects for the good of others, to be
used then discarded when they have served their purpose. This is precisely what
embryonic stem cell research does, and why we must as Catholics oppose SB 80.
We have the duty to oppose every attempt, however well-intended, to turn human
life into a mere commodity.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Michael A. Saltarelli
Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington
May 26, 2005
Our brothers and sisters in Darfur need help
My dear friends in Christ,
As Catholics, we are called to look
at the world as our parish. We need to be concerned about events around the
world and be mindful of our sisters and brothers who are suffering in so many
different and horrific ways.
One such situation is in the Darfur
region of Sudan m Africa. Darfur has been embroiled in a deadly conflict for
over three years. At least several hundred thousand people have been killed;
more than 2 million innocent civilians have been forced to flee their homes and
now live in displaced-persons camps in Sudan or in refugee camps in neighboring
Chad; and more than 3.5 million men, women, and children are completely reliant
on international aid for survival. Not since the Rwandan genocide of 1994 has
the world seen such a calculated campaign of displacement, starvation, rape,
torture, and mass slaughter.
I am asking
you to get involved. Our faith calls us to understand that "loving our neighbor"
has global dimensions in an interdependent world. We cannot be on the sidelines
while death and destruction persist and human dignity is threatened. Here are
some basic but important things you can do:
Pray for those suffering in
Darfur and pray that the cycle of violence and misery ends.
Learn about what is happening
to the people in Darfur, about the crisis and the atrocities being inflicted
on our sisters and brothers.
Learn what assistance is being
provided by Catholic Relief Services and other relief agencies.
Advocate for the people of
Darfur by asking President Bush and federal legislators to:
Have the U.S. lend its
diplomatic support to find a political solution through a renewed and
inclusive peace effort.
Pressure Sudan directly to
accept the United Nations peace- keeping force and end its military
offensive in Darfur.
Provide adequate funding for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid efforts
Provide appropriate oversight to ensure tl1at Darfur is being correctly
prioritized within U.S. foreign policy, and to ensure that no
opportunities for peace are missed for lack of resources.
We are one
human family, and as a family we need to take care of our members who need help.
I ask you to turn your thoughts, prayers, and actions to our sisters and
brothers in Darfur.
yours in Our Lord,
Letter in Dialog June 7, 2007
some suggested ways parishes can help the people of Darfur; the suggestions come
from Catholic Relief Services and the parish social ministry office of Catholic
Charities in the Diocese of Wilmington. For more information, go to http://sudan.csr.org/index.htm,
www.cdow.org/Darfur.pdf or contact Andy Zampini of Catholic Charities in
Wilmington at (302) 655-9624.
Organize "A Sunday. Of
Conscience for the People of Sudan," Put together a photo exhibit and post
flyers (download photos at http://sudan.crs.org/). Ask your parish's liturgy
planning committee to include appropriate Prayers of the Faithful.
Send an email to your senators and representative in Congress
through Catholic Relief Services' Legislative Action Center, (http://actioncenter.crs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ac_homepage).
Organize a group of parishioners and youth to visit
legislators' home offices during congressional recesses. For information and
locations contact Katch Reynolds at Catholic Charities, (302) 655-9624
Hold a candlelight vigil. For a script, go to http://campus.crs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=campus_sudan.
Include a ' Prayer for Peace
ill Darfur ill your parish bulletin for families to use at home. Hold a
prayer vigil at your parish or parish school (http://sudan.crs.org/resources.htm).
Regularly visit Catholic Relief
Services' website for background in Sudan.