The controversy over human cloning has furiously erupted this week as a result of statements by Richard Seed.
Whatever he can or cannot do, this provides an opportunity and an obligation for everyone to engage in clear thinking and decisive action.
First of all, the scientific considerations of cloning should not be oversimplified. It is fraught with far more complexity and nuance than can be conveyed in any news report.
Secondly, the issue raises again the question, "What does it mean to be me?" Value is intimately tied to uniqueness. If someone gives you a statue and tells you it is the only one of its kind in the world, you take a lot of extra care not to drop it. What would be the psychological consequences for a person to know he or she is a biological "copy" or has been "copied" by cloning? How does it feel to have to put on a form that asks for your parents’ names the response, "Me"?
As a society, we produce, buy, sell, and throw away so many things that we are easily tempted to do the same to human beings. We forget the difference between a person and a thing. Things are made; persons are begotten. Cloning disregards the dignity of the human person and the dignity of human procreation. It enters the arena of making people. Human cloning should be prohibited by law.
We are not opposed to research, including cloning, in the vegetable and animal kingdoms. But the human person is different. The human person has a higher dignity, which we ignore at our own peril.
The Priests for Life website is carrying a section with a reflection on cloning from the Pontifical Academy for Life, as well as pastoral tools for clergy to use in preaching and teaching on this subject. The website is at http://www.priestsforlife.org.
Click here for further comments of Priests for Life on Cloning and ways of presenting our teaching about it.
Click here to read the statement on Cloning by the Pontifical Academy for Life, Rome