The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, has spoken out strongly against the proposed legislation legalizing cloning in New South Wales, Australia. The cardinal spoke on behalf of the 10 dioceses he represents to the parliament of New South Wales this afternoon.
The Premier of the Parliament, Morris Iemma, who is Catholic, has already indicated he will support the bill. Mr. Iemma, introduced the bill himself just this last week, calling it “therapeutic” cloning—a label that the Cardinal labels as deceptive.
Cardinal Pell has called on all Catholic, Christian and pro-life MPs to oppose the bill. "No Catholic politician - indeed, no Christian or person with respect for human life - who has properly informed his conscience about the facts and ethics in this area should vote in favour of this immoral legislation.”
"Catholic politicians who vote for this legislation must realize that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the church."
The prelate says that he is not threatening to excommunicate members who support the bill, but they must consider the consequences.
"If this bill is passed, the enemies of human life will soon be back with further proposals, disguised with sweet words and promises of cures, to roll back the few remaining barriers to the regular destruction of early human life."
The bill would allow the creation of four different types of embryos. The first type of cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer) creates embryos with only one genetic parent. The second kind of cloning would mix “the genetic material of more than two persons - which makes a human embryo with three or more genetic parents.” The third procedure to be legalized would involve “Fertilizing immature eggs taken from aborted girls with adult male sperm - which makes a human embryo with an aborted baby girl as its genetic 'mother'." The final type of cloning would create, “human-animal hybrids as a test for sperm quality - which makes an embryo with a human and an animal genetic parent.”
In response to the bill, Cardinal Pell said, "This Bill would result in there being two classes of human embryos: those created to live and those manufactured to be eliminated in research. To produce a human embryo with the express purpose of destroying it for research - as if it were a lab rat - is a perverse new direction for human experimentation.”
Cardinal Pell says he has not spoken to the Premier about the issue, but the legislation is taking the state even further down the slippery slope it started down when it allowed experimentation on embryos left over from IVF treatments in 2002.
New South Wales MPs will start debating the bill this afternoon.