Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Church and Science back in the News

Today's Trib had a short article in the business section that may have raised a few eyebrows. The Vatican signed an agreement with a stem cell company for an education and research project. (Here's a Catholic News Agency article on the same item.)
Naturally, with the Vatican as a partner, you can be sure that the research in question will be in the highly successful area of adult stem cells. (There are already quite a few proven cures attributable to "adult" stem cells, even though the more hideous, embryo-derived kind get all the publicity.) This, shortly after the news from very different quarters that an embryonic stem cell therapy for age-related macular degeneration was about to be tested in clinical trials. (So if the trials result in cures, it will be a first for the embryonic stem cells.)
The Vatican partnership is related to the STOQ project (under the Pontifical Council for Culture), and is not the first Vatican-science relationship that has resulted from it: last year, the Vatican signed an agreement with the Italian Space Agency. A book on biotechnology has been released by the STOQ office, and the stem cell partnership includes a conference on the technology to be held in Rome next month. One of the purposes of the office (the name stands for "Science, Technology and the Ontological Quest") is to support scientific research in areas that tend to be commercially overlooked, and to connect scientific progress with philosophy, so that new discoveries or therapies can be launched with a fully developed philosophy that is consistent with human dignity.
About the only thing STOQ doesn't do with panache and scientific expertise is keep its web site up to date!

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