Cardinal: Human Cloning Would be a Crime Against All People

VATICAN CITY — Attempts to clone human beings should be banned internationally as a “crime against the human person,” against the human right to life and to true individuality, said the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, writing in the Aug. 9 edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, said the Vatican's opposition to human cloning does not reflect a fear of technology but a commitment to protecting the human person, human sexuality and the family.

The cardinal's article was the second in a series planned by the Vatican newspaper in preparation for a late-September U.N. debate on a possible global ban on human cloning for reproduction.

The Vatican supports the ban and efforts to expand its prohibitions on human cloning for any purpose, whether the procedure is aimed at producing a child or simply at creating an embryo whose cells and tissues would be used for the treatment of others.

“It is not acceptable to maintain that a human being, in any stage of its development, is like material in a warehouse or a source of tissue and organs — replacement parts,” Cardinal Lopez wrote.

The complexity of the debate and of media coverage surrounding it can be simplified if one remembers that what cloning aims to produce is not a thing “but a human being like us,” he said.

People should look at the question, he said, not by trying to imagine what they would do if they were scientists, “but put yourself in the shoes of the embryo, something we once were.”

“Certainly, it would not be pleasant to come into the world in a laboratory instead of being the fruit of the union of our parents,” he said. “Neither would it be pleasant to be the survivor of dozens or hundreds of our twin brothers and sisters eliminated as defective.”

Cardinal Lopez also wrote about the reflections of the philosopher Hans Jonas on the “right to ignorance,” that is the right to be an individual, not an exact copy of someone whose physical and psychological health history is already known.

“Being a copy” would be part of the clone's self-identity, a condition that runs counter to “the right of a person to live his life as an original and unrepeatable discovery, a discovery of the self,” he said.

The cardinal also said a human clone could not really be said to have a mother and a father, since its conception would not be the result