In a move that may surprise those who think of the Catholic Church's teaching on bioethics as an unmovable obstacle to modern biomedical procedure, Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged a group of experts to search for heart treatments using adult stem cells.
The scientists, many of whom are doctors, attended Wednesday's general audience with the pontiff in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. They were in Rome for an international conference dedicated to adult stem cell research, organized by the University of Rome La Sapienza.
The Pope said he approved their objective of developing therapies with adult stem cells, since in this case "the dignity of the human person is respected," given that human embryos are neither eliminated nor made the subjects of experimentation.
He said: "In this sense, the position of the Church, supported by reason and science, is clear: Scientific investigation should be justly encouraged and promoted, on the condition that it is not in detriment to other human beings."