Catholic lawmakers in Australia said yesterday they will vote in favor of therapeutic cloning regardless of the directives or warnings issued by the archbishop of Sydney.
Tony Stewart of the ruling Labor Party in the New South Wales state parliament, said he would rather go to hell than take orders on how to vote from Cardinal George Pell. "Maybe I'll go to hell, but if I go to hell I'm going to do so by saving a lot of lives, because that's what this bill is about," Tony Stewart said in a radio interview.
Cardinal Pell said recently that cloning is unethical and “a serious moral matter”, which could see the creation of human and animal hybrids.
“Catholic politicians who vote for this legislation must realize that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the Church," he reportedly said.
Cardinal Pell was soon joined by Archbishop Barry Hickey of Perth who also issued a similar warning. He said that Catholics who vote for cloning, "are acting against the teaching of the Church on a very serious matter and they should, in conscience, not vote that way; but if they do, in conscience they should not go to Communion."
The both prelates said they are considering refusing Holy Communion to Catholic lawmakers who vote in favor of the bill.
"We don't need a religious leader telling members of parliament what should be done," Stewart said in a radio interview.
Lawmakers are being allowed a conscience vote on a bill to bring the country's most populous state into line with the federal government, which overturned a ban on the so-called therapeutic cloning last year.
The new law would allow excess human embryos from in-vitro fertilization treatment to be used to create stem cells for research.
Both state premier Morris Iemma and his deputy, John Watkins, are Catholics who have said they intend to vote for the bill.
"I've already thought seriously about this legislation, and it passes all the ethical and moral issues that I need passed, and gives people hope," said Watkins, who admitted he is upset about the cardinal’s recent statements.
The Anglican Church is also asking lawmakers to vote against the bill.