Diocese of Venice Expresses Concerns about Possible Research at Jackson Laboratory
Published on Friday, 23 July 2010 19:58
The Diocese of Venice has weighed in on the proposed Jackson Laboratory research institution near Ave Maria, saying that "Jackson Laboratory's purported association with and openness to human embryonic stem cell research" causes the diocese concern.
A statement from the diocese on moral and ethical issues surrounding the proposed facility has been sent to the Naples Daily News, which is publishing it as an opinion piece. Diocesan spokesman Bob Reddy said that a version of the statement also was sent to pro-life activist Randy Engel, an outspoken critic of Ave Maria. The statement also was published on the anonymous site AveWatch, which reported erroneously that the statement "will appear in their August 6 diocesan newspaper, and will be handed out after all Masses in Collier County this coming Sunday."
There were never plans to publish the statement in the Florida Catholic nor to hand it out at Masses, Mr. Reddy said.
The diocese says in the statement (below) that there are "questions which have a profound moral and ethical impact that also must be considered." It says it is particularly troubled by a reported statement by the Jackson Laboratory that it would not rule out embryonic stem cell research at the Florida lab. "An organization which truly respects the rights of all human beings could and should ‘rule out' human embryonic stem cell research," the diocese said.
The statement comes before the Collier County commissioners meet Tuesday to consider whether to proceed with funding the county's $130-million share of subsidies for the Jackson Lab project and, if so, how to raise the money.
The diocese is commenting solely on the research plans for the laboratory, Mr. Reddy said, and not the decision by Tom Monaghan to sell his half-interest in 50 acres of land to his partner, the Barron Collier Cos., so that the developer could donate the land for use by the Jackson Lab. On that matter, Mr. Reddy said, "the diocese defers" to the National Catholic Bioethics Center, which reviewed the transaction and determined that there was "no moral obstacle" to Mr. Monaghan selling his interest in the land. Click here for a previous Ave Herald story on that aspect.
Following is the text of what Mr. Reddy provided to the Naples Daily News, or click here to view it on the Naples Daily News website.
The proposal to bring the Maine-based Jackson Laboratory to Collier County must raise concerns among people of good-will. While the Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida is aware of the potential economic benefits of any company coming to the region, there are other questions which have a profound moral and ethical impact that must also be considered.
Indeed, moral and ethical issues are at the very core of what constitutes truly authentic human and economic development. Authentic human and economic development, in keeping with the Teachings of the Catholic Church, highlights not only the ‘wants' of life, but more profoundly, the ‘oughts.' This is also the case with regard to The Jackson Laboratory's proposal to operate in Collier County.
Jackson Laboratory's purported association with and openness to human embryonic stem cell research causes the Diocese of Venice concern. Of particular note is a public statement made by the company that they are, "not willing to rule out doing human embryonic stem cell research" (Naples Daily News, April 10, 2010).
People knowledgeable of stem cell research and therapy are aware that adult stem cell research has led to more medical advances and promise than that of human embryonic stem cell studies. The Catholic Church does support research using adult stem cells taken from a variety of sources. However, as is well known, since work on human embryonic stem cells involves the destruction of innocent human life, the Church does not approve of such research.
While encouraging and supporting biomedical research which respects innocent human life and advances the common good and in keeping fully with the Teachings of the Catholic Church, the Diocese of Venice has ethical and moral concerns as regards the potential activities at the proposed Jackson Laboratory facility. Economic growth and development are not the only components which impact the life of a community. An organization which truly respects the rights of all human beings could and should "rule out" human embryonic stem cell research. This is precisely because it involves the destruction of innocent human life and consequently, affects the community. Without such an understanding, the plan of Jackson Laboratory, as it has been reported, presents difficulty for the Diocese of Venice in Florida.
Thank you for providing the Diocese of Venice the opportunity to comment on this important issue in the public forum.
Diocese of Venice in Florida