Orthodox Church & Stem Cell Research

Question

What is the position of the Orthodox Church on embryonic stem cell research? Has the Orthodox Church in America issued any statements on this yet?


Answer

Thank you for your inquiry.

In light of the fact that Orthodox Christianity accepts the fact that human life begins at conception, the extraction of stem cells from embryos, which involves the willful taking of human life—the embryo is human life and not just a “clump of cells”—is considered morally and ethically wrong in every instance.

In a testimony to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission published in Ethical Issues in Stem Cell Research, Volume III, Religious Perspectives, National Bioethics Advisory Commission, Rockville, Maryland, June 2000, the Reverend Demetrios Demopulos, Ph.D. writes, “The Orthodox Church promotes and encourages therapeutic advances in medicine and the research necessary to realize them, but not at the expense of human life. The Church considers human life to begin with the zygote and to extend beyond our physical death, as we were promised eternal life by our God and Savior.

Recognizing that we are all in a sinful and imperfect state, the Church admonishes us to strive for perfection through God’s grace as we strive to become authentic human persons in communion with God. Because we tend to follow our own will rather than God’s, we are reminded to be discerning so that we do not commit outrages by putting a gift of God’s to bad use.” The complete text of Father Demopulos’ article may be found here.

At present, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America is drafting a statement on this timely issue.
, OCA Communications Office