July 8, 2006


Vatican 'is going back to days of Inquisition' (Roger Highfield, The Telegraph, July 8th, 2006)

The Vatican's threat to excommunicate scientists who carry out embryonic stem cell research was criticised by fertility experts yesterday as intellectually incoherent and "a step back to the Inquisition".

As Catholic Church leaders gather in Spain, scientists responded to the claim by Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, the head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, that excommunication "will be applied to the women, doctors and researchers who eliminate embryos and to the politicians who approve the law".

Dr Stephen Minger, of King's College London, said: "Having been raised a Catholic I find this stance outrageous. Are they also going to excommunicate IVF doctors, nurses and embryologists who routinely put millions of embryos down the sink [instead of using them for research]? I would argue that it is more ethical to use embryos that are going to be destroyed anyway for the benefit of mankind."

Professor Julian Savulescu, an expert in applied ethics at of the University of Oxford, said: "You can say it is a step back to the Inquisition.

Posted by Peter Burnet at July 8, 2006 11:14 AM

You can say it is a step back to the Inquisition.

And you can say that statements like that are a step back to Stalin's slaughter of Catholics priests and nuns.

I'll see your hysterical analogy and raise it.

In the world of academia where one fights using words, a sense of proportion can be lost. To put it charitably.


Posted by: SteveMG at July 8, 2006 1:01 PM

It's not "the Vatican" talking here, just one cardinal's remarks, (though they may be a sign of what the Vatican is heading towards). The stupid news media couldn't get Catholic stuff straight even if they actually tried.

And I think it's only about those who destroy or farm embryos deliberately for research. Not about stem cell researchers in general.

Posted by: John Weidner [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 8, 2006 1:21 PM


Posted by: oj at July 8, 2006 2:48 PM

Anyone bringing the Inquisition into this debate has lost the right to discuss the issue. Subset of Godwin's Law.

Isn't "applied ethics" redundant?

Posted by: Jdkelly at July 8, 2006 4:04 PM

What seems to be the problem here?

Excommunication for grave public sin is not an Inquisition, an Inquisition is an Inquisition.


Posted by: Lou Gots at July 8, 2006 4:50 PM

I like the recent appearance of "experts" in ethics. These are people trotted forward as the secular replacement for religious authority. They appear to me to be just paid experts in making plausable arguments to persuade the public to allow scientists and industrialists to do whatever they want to do.

Posted by: L. Rogers at July 9, 2006 9:07 AM

[posted too quickly]

Whenever I see one of these "experts," I wonder who this person is, what makes him an "expert," based on what values is he making his judgments, who benefits most from his judgments, why should I pay any attention to what he says, etc., etc.

Posted by: L. Rogers at July 9, 2006 9:15 AM