Pro-life scientist honored at Citizens for Life dinner

Stem-cell researcher Dr. James Sherley, right, was honored at the Massachusetts Citizens for Life dinner April 13. With him are keynote speaker Eve Silver, a medical research analyst and an expert consultant on breast cancer, and MCFL President Joseph Reilly. Courtesy photo/Massachusetts Citizens for Life

CAMBRIDGE -- People are not hearing the truth about human embryonic stem-cell research even as politicians push to subsidize the grisly practice with both state and federal tax dollars.

The truth is that promising alternative research -- on adult stem cells -- is being conducted but largely ignored by the media and scientists intent on public funding of this research that requires killing human embryos.

That’s the assessment of Dr. James L. Sherley, a nationally recognized pro-life scientist who was honored at the Massachusetts Citizens for Life’s (MCFL) April 13 dinner for publicly voicing the often-ignored moral side of this issue. Sherley, 49, is the first and only black faculty member of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) biological engineering division.

“Scientists aren’t giving full and honest disclosure,” he said in a recent interview. “We’ve already found from adult cells how to address certain diseases and have not had to kill a single person to do this. Scientists know it’s unlikely embryonic stem-cell research will work. It’s a ploy to get more research funding.”

Sherley’s assessment has been echoed in recent pleas from pro-life advocates, the nation’s Catholic bishops and President George W. Bush.

Just as abortion is legal in the U.S., so is killing human embryos. The recent heated debate in Congress and on Beacon Hill has focused on who will pay for this research that has not produced one successful treatment.

Despite this fact, the U.S. Senate April 11 approved a bill that would authorize federal funding of it. The House approved a similar bill in January.

A conference committee will send a final version to Bush, who said April 12 that he would veto the bill. His veto could prevail as neither the House nor Senate approved it with margins wide enough for an override. Bush said it “crosses a moral line that I and many others find troubling.”

New studies over the last three weeks indicated that adult stem cells have shown promise in treating diseases from Type 1 diabetes to heart damage. According to the Washington D.C.-based Family Research Council, adult stem cells have shown success in treating 72 different diseases and injuries.

Sherley’s own research focuses on adult stem cells -- discovering the intricate machinery they use to divide, and harnessing this machinery to coax adult stem cells to grow better in laboratory conditions. In 2006 he won a prestigious Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health, a $2.5 million grant for scientists taking innovative approaches to biomedical problems.

The rush to use embryonic stem cells is not based on ignorance of the fact that human life begins at the stage of a single cell, Sherley said. The problem is disregard for its value.

And the issue gets further clouded when politicians and the media don’t specify what kind of stem-cell research they’re talking about. “I’m concerned with how information is being disseminated without making distinctions,” Sherley said.

All four Massachusetts bishops voiced similar concern April 6 about the dangerous moral freefall implied in Gov. Deval Patrick’s March 30 announcement that he plans to dismantle state restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research put in place by former Gov. Mitt Romney.

The Massachusetts Legislature in 2005 actually legalized human cloning (calling it “somatic cell nuclear transfer”) for embryonic stem-cell research. But Romney’s regulations still banned scientists from setting up embryo “farms” or from importing stem-cell lines from other states that allow them.

Yet in news reports, Patrick stressed global competition and ignored the moral implications involved.

MCFL executive director Marie Sturgis said in reaction, “We’re appalled. These are human beings. Science should be guided by ethics and morals.”

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley wrote in his online blog April 6: “When the media promote embryonic stem-cell research, they often give the impression that those who oppose it are some sort of religious fanatics ... In actuality, the scientific cures are coming about through the ethical ways of doing things.”

Research on adult stem cells and those from umbilical-cord blood or placenta or bone marrow is fine because no harm is done to the donor, points out Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, education director for the National Catholic Bioethics Center. Only research using embryonic stem cells raises “insuperable moral objections” as it sanctions the direct exploitation and destruction of one person by another.

Exploitation -- whether of the unborn or because of race -- is a violation of basic human rights, Sherley noted. He made national news earlier this year when he staged an 11-day hunger strike at MIT in a dispute over his being denied tenure, a move he said was a combination of prejudices against his race and his opposition to embryonic stem-cell research.

MIT officials disputed his claims, but did acknowledge that minorities are under-represented on the faculty, launched a review of employment practices, and agreed to further talks with Sherley.

“Blacks and other minorities should pay attention to these life issues, because if we continue to move in the direction we’re going, it will be those populations who will be most affected,” Sherley said. Although blacks comprise only 12-15 percent of the U.S. population, a disproportionate 37 percent of all babies aborted are black.

Embryonic stem-cell research will require massive donations of women’s eggs, exploiting women’s bodies as raw material for experiments, according to Catholic Citizenship, a Boston-based lay-run group that encourages Catholics to participate in the legislative process.

Catholic Citizenship has urged people to oppose both federal and state funding of the embryonic stem-cell research by contacting their elected officials.

Cardinal beatifies 22-year-old Romanian as 'martyr to chastity'

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A 22-year-old Romanian peasant has taken a step closer to sainthood as a "martyr to chastity," six decades after she was murdered ...

Maryland attorney general will review church records on child sex abuse

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In a Sept. 24 letter to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori informed priests and deacons that the ...

People helping people is what attracted actor to 'God Friended Me'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Television audiences may recall seeing actor Joe Morton as Eli Rowan Pope, the father of professional Washington fixer Olivia Pope, ...

Pa. bishops support creating fund to compensate survivors of sex abuse

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The bishops of Pennsylvania's eight Roman Catholic dioceses are supporting creation of an independent fund to compensate survivors ...

CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities ...

The Jesuit who survived the KGB

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 CNA.- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius ...

Next step toward artificial reproduction violates human fundamentals, ethicist warns

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Artificial human reproduction appears to be on the horizon with Japanese scientists’ claim to ...

Update: Scandals create outrage, but there is time for conversion, pope says

TALLINN, Estonia (CNS) -- In what is probably the least religious country in Europe, Pope Francis said he is surprised by how many people hold firm to ...

Catholic leaders oppose administration's plan to limit green cards

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic leaders are speaking out against a Trump administration proposed rule announced Sept. 22 that would deny green cards to legal ...

Head of Georgetown Prep urges renewed commitment to being 'men for others'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a letter to the school community, the president of an all-boys Jesuit high school in suburban Washington emphasized the schools' ...

Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...