Stop using embryos for cell research, Pope urges

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VATICAN CITY, Oct 11 (Reuters) Pope Benedict appealed to scientists today to stop using human embryos in stem cell research, saying it violated the dignity of human life.

The Vatican supports stem cell research so long as it does not harm embryos, which the Catholic Church argues are humans from the moment of conception.

''The destruction of human embryos, whether to acquire stem cells or for any other purpose, contradicts the purported intent of researchers, legislators and public health officials to promote human welfare,'' the Pontiff wrote in a letter to South Korea's new ambassador to the Holy See.

The Church supports research on adult cells and promising alternatives to embryonic research, such as the use of amniotic fluid protecting foetuses in the uterus.

The Pope said such research methods ''harmonise with the aforementioned intent (to promote human welfare) by respecting the life of the human being at every stage of his or her existence''.

South Korea announced plans earlier this year to remove some of the blocks to human embryonic stem cell research in place since a 2006 scandal involving forged data in stem cell studies.

REUTERS AE BST1922

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