Vatican Criticizes Europe’s Stem Cell Decision

ASSOCIATED PRESS, July 31 — Vatican Radio said a decision by the European Union to continue funding embryonic human stem cell research was the result of “a twisted sense of progress,” reported Associated Press.

Poland, Austria, Malta, Slovakia and Lithuania voted against the updated rules on ethical and moral grounds. The funding will be released under conditions that include a ban on research aimed at human cloning for reproductive purposes and on studies intended to modify the “genetic heritage” of human beings, according to the report.

Embryonic stem-cell research, which involves the destruction of a unique human being in an attempt to cure different diseases, has proven not only destructive and costly, but has not produced a cure. Adult stem-cell research, which utilizes cells from adult tissues or umbilical cords, does not require the destruction of human life. It has proven successful in treating different kinds of cancers and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Pope Benedict: ‘I’m Starting to Learn My Job’

REUTERS, July 28 — Being leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics is not an easy job, but Pope Benedict says he’s starting to get the hang of it, Reuters reported.

“I am starting to learn my job,” the Pope told reporters when asked how he felt 15 months after a conclave of cardinals chose him to succeed the late Pope John Paul.

The Pope was speaking at the end of his vacation in the northern Italian mountains, from where he moved to the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, where he is expected to stay until late September.

The Holy Father said, “During this period I have also been working, because holidays are good only if you do some work. Without doing anything, they are not holidays.”

Holy Father Renews Mideast Peace Appeal

ANSA, Aug. 2 — Pope Benedict XVI renewed his call for a ceasefire between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, saying that nothing could justify the “spilling of innocent blood,” reported the Italian news agency.

Addressing a throng in St. Peter’s Square at the end of his midweek audience, the Holy Father said that “our eyes are full of horrifying images of the mangled bodies of so many people, particularly children.”

The Pope specifically referred to an Israeli air strike against the Lebanese town of Qana July 30 that killed at least 54 civilians, including 37 children.

“I would like to repeat that nothing anywhere can justify the spilling of innocent blood,” he continued. “With anguished heart, I renew a pressing appeal for all hostilities and violence to be halted.” he said, urging the international community to work on a “definitive political solution” to the crisis. The Pope said he would continue to pray for the “dear and tortured region of the Middle East.”