Yesterday morning the President of the Pontifical Council for Health, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan confirmed the Church’s position against embryonic stem cell research and for the use of adult stem cells. The cardinal touched upon the topic while responding to a question about the choice of the new American president to use federal funds to finance embryonic stem cell research. Cardinal Barragan, who was presenting the international conference, ‘The Church in the Cure of Sick Children’, which will take place at the Vatican from November 13-15, did not directly argue against President Obama “or give him advice” and only confirmed the Vatican’s position. Embryonic stem cells, said the cardinal, “are not useful and until now they have never cured anything.” The cardinal also underlined the Church’s favorable opinion of adult stem cells taken from the umbilical cord. Obama, like rival John McCain, made embryonic stem cell research a point on his platform approved by U.S. voters.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY TORN BETWEEN SECULARISM AND CLERICALISM
Moral issues are a point of reference for the Partito Democratico (Democratic Party), now at risk due to this ethically sensitive issue. Barack Obama announced his intention to eliminate some of the Bush administration’s decisions, including restrictions on the use of stem cells in federally funded research, and immediately the Vatican protested. Italian democrats mainly ex-populists voiced their initial criticisms after debates that started regarding possible new alliances: “Obama is not our (party) secretary,” observed Margherita Miotto.
The future choices of the new American president have created their first problems in the Catholic sect of the Italian Democratic Party: “It is true that we are fully immersed in the global era, but the decisions made by the American administration regarding ethical problems do not have to automatically transfer to Italy,” observed Christian Democrat Enzo Carra. Pierluigi Castagnetti, ex-secretary of the Popular Party adding: “Catholics can be calm, Obama is not Zapatero.” “I believe that Obama will limit himself to repealing some of the laws of the Bush administration, but I don’t think that he will adopt a Zapatero style strategy, and I think that Catholics do not have to worry,” explained Castagnetti. He continued, “He received substantial support from American Catholics and I think that beyond his personal beliefs, he will also take this into account.”
Emanuela Baio is waiting “faithfully” and with “caution” to see Obama’s first moves in the White House: “I believe that Obama’s victory represents a great choice for change for America and the world, and as a Catholic and believer in politics I am looking forward to great transformations.” Having said this, for Baio “it does not mean that all the things that Obama decides to do will be shared.” For example, on “legal matters in Italy like in America, such as abortion and stem cells, the end of life, and the family, much caution is needed.” For now, specified Baio, “I am not expressing acceptance or refusal, I am waiting to understand his choices and I hope that all believers who voted for him will be respected.
I hope that the Catholic vote will positively influence Obama’s choice.” Miotto was more clear-cut: “Obama’s program is not the same as ours. It’s clear that between him and Bush we prefer Obama, but that does not mean that we have to share all of his decisions, he isn’t our party secretary.” Carra remarked: “He isn’t our boss, no one thought about electing him secretary of the Democratic Party.” If there is distance between us on ethical issues, “on many others, like war and social problems, we are in agreement.”