Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 10, 2003
Human Reproduction act 'deeply flawed,' bishops say
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The Catholic bishops of Canada say Bill C-13, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, passed in the House of Commons Oct. 28, is "deeply flawed" even though it contains much that is positive.
However, in a three-page statement issued Oct. 29, Bishop Jacques Berthelet, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, does not say whether the CCCB is opposed or in favour of the bill, which now goes to the Senate for debate.
Instead, Berthelet said it is not the CCCB's intention to tell Catholic senators how to vote "because it is their responsibility to discern the best way to protect human life and dignity after reflecting on all the resources available to them."
"This discernment certainly includes Church teaching, but also the senators' own personal reflections on the political and social realities they face."
The statement, released at the CCCB's annual plenary here, summarizes the Church's position that a human embryo is a human being that should be protected. It also provides "some guidance to Catholic legislators with respect to their responsibility for the common good."
The bishops have supported some provisions of the legislation, including a ban on reproductive and therapeutic cloning, commercial surrogacy, germ-line alteration, and the marketing of sperm, ova and embryos. But it falls short of what the bishops wanted because it allows for research on human embryos.
"The problem with embryonic stem cell research is that while the research has the potential to benefit those living with disease, it actually harms the embryo who dies in the process," said the bishops' statement. "Ultimately, the embryo is exploited for the benefit of others."
But not all bishop-members of the CCCB have remained as neutral on the bill's passage as the episcopal conference.
British Columbia bishops, Archbishop Adam Exner of Vancouver, Bishop David Monroe of Kamloops, Bishop Eugene Cooney of Nelson, and Bishop Raymond Roussin of Victoria, all signed a letter to members of Parliament in April, urging MPs to vote against the bill.
The defeat of Bill C-13 "would signal that the killing of embryos for research is still not acceptable in this country and that the voluntary moratorium should continue," said the letter, signed by 18 Canadian religious and pro-life leaders. "The end does not justify the means."
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