COMECE Publication on Science and Ethics
The COMECE Secretariat is publishing 16 Opinion statements from its Bioethics Reflection Group in French and in English. The aim of this publication is to encourage interest in bioethical issues and to promote an atmosphere of open Dialogue between the Church, politics, science and economics.
The Bioethics Reflection Group of the COMECE Secretariat produced, over a period of 12 years, 16 Opinion statements on a wide range of bioethical issues. The most recent Opinions deal with ethical aspects of organ donation, anthropological and ethical issues related to the creation of human-animal mixed organisms, ethical aspects of nanomedicine and patentability of human stem cells. They also dealt with living wills (end-of-life arrangements) and euthanasia, genetic testing, biomedical research in developing countries, cloning, embryonic stem cell and embryo research.
In recent years bioethical topics have played an important part in various EU policies. For instance, an EU directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions (‘Biopatent Directive’) led to the question currently before the European Patent Office as to whether human embryonic stem-cell lines can be patented. The questions of promotion of cloning and use of human embryonic stem cells for research have regularly led to controversy over the years at EU level with regard to European research funding under the EU Research Framework Programmes. The European Commission is currently working on a proposal for a directive on organ donations for transplant purposes. Here too, fundamental ethical questions are involved, particularly with respect to the free will of donors and the principle of non-commercialisation of the human body and its parts.
In view of the significance of bioethical issues for EU policies, the Bioethics Reflection Group was founded in 1996 by COMECE. Its aim is to examine bioethical issues in terms of their implications for the EU and its institutions and, at the same time, to inform the COMECE Bishops and their Bishops’ Conferences about these issues. Its members represent a range of disciplines in addition to theology, ethics and philosophy: notably law, medicine and pharmacology.
The Publication can be ordered in English or French from the COMECE Secretariat.