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Defending the 'Holy Grail of Life'

Interview With Dr. Josep Simón, President of FIAMC

BARCELONA, Spain, AUG. 24, 2006 (Zenit) - The International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations is helping to organize a world congress at the Vatican on the topic of stem cells.

The Sept. 14-16 congress, entitled "Stem Cells, What Therapeutic Future? Scientific Aspects and Bioethical Problems," will be held in conjunction with the Pontifical Academy for Life.

In this interview with us, Dr. Josep Simón Castellví, a surgeon and the president of the federation of medical associations (FIAMC), explained why research with embryonic stem cells is not ethical and discussed the therapeutic possibilities that exist with adult stem cells.

Q: What is the congress's objective on stem cells?

Simón: The congress, fruit of the work of my predecessor, Dr. Gian Luigi Gigli, is being held jointly with the Pontifical Academy for Life and seeks to shed light so that scientists and believers in general may acquire an exact idea of what has been called "the Holy Grail of life."

The human being is called to complete the world with his work, to fill the planet with other human beings with whom he lives harmoniously. However, the human being cannot and must not imitate God. This is always very dear. And it is money, along with scientific arrogance and at times a false sensation of doing good to humanity, that research is carried out with human embryos.

Q: In what cases are therapeutic applications with stem cells morally acceptable?

Simón: Embryonic stem cells exist to configure the embryo. Adult stem cells exist precisely to regenerate tissues. If we confuse this, we will develop bad science.

And, at present, only adult cells give results -- for example, in the treatment of some leukemias, heart attacks, etc. Other stem cells, such as those of the umbilical cord, have positive prospects though they are still to be seen.

Q: Apart from the "no" to therapies that use embryonic stem cells, are there other ethically worrying cases?

Simón: Science must not be apocalyptic, in the sense of always seeing the risks of scientific advances. However, it must be realistic and accept only what is acceptable.

Because the obtaining of embryonic stem cells requires the destruction of the embryo, that is why we cannot accept either its use or its research. Moreover, these cells are coordinated by a very complex mechanism that, if not well controlled, gives place to aberrant growths, tumors, etc. This is the reality.

Q: You have been elected recently president of FIAMC. What are the priorities the federation will have in the forthcoming years?

Simón: My priorities are those of the Church, of the Pope, and some are my own priorities, which are Africa and the preferential option for mothers -- neither exclusive nor excluding, but preferential.

Thousands upon thousands of mothers die every year in childbirth for lack of medical care. And thousands and thousands of families suffer because of the sufferings of mothers before, during or after childbirth.


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Holy Grail, Simon, Life, Stem, Cell

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