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Roman Catholic French Bishops Clarify Stance On Telethon To Raise Money For Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Other Research

September 02, 2017

The Roman Catholic Conference of French Bishops on Thursday attempted to clarify their position on the French Muscular Dystrophy Association's annual telethon, which raises money for human embryonic stem cell and other medical research, after some church members suggested the telethon be boycotted, the New York Times reports. Pierre-Olivier Arduin, a member of the commission for bioethics and human life for the Catholic diocese of Frejus-Toulon, in October posted a statement on the diocese Web site saying, "It is no longer possible to participate in the telethon," adding, "Christians cannot cooperate with this evil." According to the Times, the statement has been removed from the Web site. Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris lauded the telethon for its overall efforts to raise funds for medical research but said it should not be given "a blank check." The Conference of French Bishops on Thursday in a statement said, "French bishops who have spoken about the telethon have all praised this work of generosity and solidarity," adding, "None of them has called for a boycott of the telethon." Some government officials and medical researchers said the church should not be interfering in state matters, the Times reports. "It's not up to the church to put any pressure on families who have recourse to genetic diagnoses and even less to make the totality of donors feel guilty," Manuel Valls, a member of Parliament and mayor of a suburb of Paris where the Muscular Dystrophy Association is based, said. French President Jacques Chirac said the telethon is acting "the strict application" of a 2004 bioethics law that allows some forms of embryonic stem cell research, adding that it was important for supporters and opponents of embryonic stem cell research to talk about the issue. The 34-hour telethon, which has been aired for the past 20 years, will be launched Friday on national television at the Trocadéro esplanade in Paris and is expected to exceed last year's proceeds of more than $138 million in donations, the Times reports (Sciolino, New York Times, 12/8).

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