Vatican supports adult stem-cell project; no financial contribution


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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican is strongly supporting a new international project for adult stem-cell research but is not directly involved and has made no financial contribution to the initiative, a Vatican spokesman said.

The project, led by the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, established a consortium of researchers from several Italian health institutes, including the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome.

The church opposes embryonic stem-cell research because it involves the destruction of embryos. It supports adult stem-cell research, which uses undifferentiated cells obtained from adult organs and tissues.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said news reports of a Vatican contribution of 2 million euros ($2.7 million) to the project were inaccurate. In an e-mail to Catholic News Service April 25, Father Lombardi said no funding commitment had been given by any Vatican institution.

"This aspect must be further studied," he said.

"It is true, however, that institutions such as the Bambino Gesu Hospital are connected with the Holy See, and therefore its concrete participation in the research can be seen as a 'Vatican' contribution, but the precise extent of this participation has not yet been defined," he said. The initiative was announced at a meeting in Rome April 23, at which participants signed a letter of intent.