The push for research into stem cells which might prove therapeutic for various maledictions has led to widespread acceptance of embryonic stem cell research as well, even though natural law and Catholic teaching forbid it. Fr. Earl Fernandes’ recent article for the Catholic Telegraph in response to an inquirer’s question regarding donating money for this form of experimentation addresses this issue directly. Money donated to entities which perform this research constitutes material cooperation in the evil of experimenting on human beings without their consent, and even material cooperation in the evil of destroying innocent life. Donating to these agencies is therefore highly imprudent. What is worse, if the donor intends to cooperate in embryonic research by giving money for this research (as would appear to be the case in most instances), then he or she cooperates formally in the evil done. Such an act is gravely immoral.
Fr. Fernandes’ article:
In the past my husband and I have donated to various organizations, only to learn that they use donations for embryonic stem cell research. While they do much good, they still support this practice. We have stopped giving, but I also know a lot of Catholics who donate to these groups. I do not think the Church has been clear about the practice of using embryonic stem cells for research. If the Church is really opposed to it, why do so many Catholics donate without knowing the facts about this type of research?
Catholic teaching on embryonic stem cell research is clear. In 1987, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an instruction entitled Donum Vitae and another instruction in 2008, entitled Dignitas Personae. In each case, the human embryo ought to be treated as a person and to be afforded the rights and protections of a person, including the right to life. Proposals to use embryos for research or for the treatment of disease are unacceptable because they treat the embryos as mere “biological material” and result in their destruction. When a Catholic hears the word “embryo”, he or she should think “person.” We would never experiment on a person without his or her consent. We would never experiment on a person and directly kill the person, especially an innocent one. That is the reality of what embryonic stem cell research does, which is why Catholics should reject it.