Vatican criticises Nobel’s choice of Robert Edwards

THE Vatican has criticised the decision to award the Nobel Prize for Medicine to IVF pioneer Robert Edwards.

“I find the choice of Robert Edwards completely out of order,” Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which speaks for the Vatican on medical ethics issues, told ANSA news agency yesterday.

“Without Edwards, there would not be a market on which millions of ovocytes are sold . . . and there would not be a large number of freezers filled with embryos in the world.”

“In the best of cases they are transferred into a uterus, but most probably they will end up abandoned or dead, a problem for which the new Nobel Prize winner is responsible.”

These statements were heavily moderated in a transcript of his interview with ANSA. In the transcript, Monsignor Carrasco de Paula called the choice of Professor Edwards understandable and said the scientist should not be underestimated. The transcript also specified he was speaking in a personal capacity.

Monsignor Carrasco de Paula blamed Professor Edwards for the “current state of confusion of assisted procreation: children with four or five parents, babies born from their grandmothers”.

“Edwards built a house but opened the wrong door,” he said.

IVF paved the way for “donations and sales involving human beings” and Professor Edwards did not address the pathology of infertility.

Monsignor Carrasco de Paula said the solution to the problem of infertility lies elsewhere and called for patience in research.

The Vatican is opposed to IVF because it involves separating conception from the “conjugal act” – sexual intercourse between a husband and wife – and often results in the destruction of embryos.

Church teaching holds that human life begins at conception, and must be given the consequent respect and dignity from that moment on.

In their first announcement of the annual prize season, the Nobel committee hailed the work of Professor Edwards, 85, as “a milestone in the development of modern medicine”.

Monsignor Carrasco de Paula was appointed in June to head the academy, an advisory office composed of Catholic doctors, bioethicists, clergy and others who advise the Pope on issues such as abortion, the right to die and assisted procreation.

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