Letter to the Editor

Pope John would condemn research

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

To the editor:

Former U.S. senator Thomas F. Eagleton says in his Feb. 26 op-ed column that he is a Pope John XXIII Roman Catholic, the inference being that Pope John would have supported fetal stem-cell research. In 1961 Pope John wrote, "The transmission of human life is entrusted by nature to a personal and conscious act. ... It is not permissible to use means ... that can be licit for the transmission of plant or animal life. Human life is sacred: from its very inception, the creative action of God is directly operative." Were he alive, Pope John would be outspoken in his condemnation of embryonic manipulation.

Eagleton also implies that St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) would have no objections to embryonic stem-cell research because he did not believe that the early fetus was "ensouled" for three or four months. However, the medieval mind had no concept of the process of fertilization and fetal development. It is logical to assume that if Aquinas had 21st century knowledge of embryology, his concept of when a fetus becomes a person would change. But even if "ensoulment" occurs sometime after conception, abortion (and manipulation of the embryo) is immoral. At conception the natural process of reproduction has been initiated. To interrupt it would be contrary to the natural law.

Is Eagleton trying to assuage his guilt for supporting a procedure which his church, in no uncertain terms, condemns as immoral?

Dr. MICHAEL WULFERS, Cape Girardeau