- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 29, 2002

VATICAN CITY The Vatican joined leading Muslim clerics and Jewish rabbis yesterday in denouncing as immoral, "brutal" and unnatural the claim that a cloned baby had been born.
The reaction came a day after a cloning company whose leader believes space aliens created life on Earth announced that a baby girl, nicknamed Eve by doctors, had been born and was a clone of her mother.
Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls in a statement noted that the announcement came with no scientific proof, and that it "has already given rise to the skepticism and moral condemnation of a great part of the international scientific community."
"But already, the announcement in itself is an expression of a brutal mentality, devoid of any ethical and human consideration," the statement said.
The Vatican has condemned any cloning of human embryos, saying the destruction of extra embryos in the process can in no way justify the procedure. Vatican teaching holds that life begins at conception.
Pope John Paul II himself has criticized any scientific experiment that threatens the dignity of a human life, including using human embryos for stem-cell research.
Clonaid chief executive Brigitte Boisselier, 46, a chemist with two doctoral degrees but no background in cloning, made the announcement of a cloned baby girl Friday at a news conference in Hollywood, Fla.
Clonaid was founded by the Raelian sect, whose leader, Rael, claims life on Earth was created by extraterrestrials through genetic engineering.
"Humanity must defend itself, as it defends itself from arms and from nuclear weapons, it must defend itself from scientific experimentation," Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, told the Italian news agency ANSA.
In the Muslim world, clerics said cloning humans disrupted natural law and would create a "chaotic" future for humanity.
"Science must be regulated by firm laws to preserve humanity and its dignity," said Ali Abu el-Hassan, a cleric from Egypt's al-Azhar University, the top religious institution in the Muslim Sunni world.
Separately, a senior Saudi cleric, Ayed bin Ahmad al-Qurani, drew a distinction between human cloning and cloning of plants or animals, which he said could serve humanity.
Human cloning is wrong "because it will cause an imbalance in the human nature God has created" and it would lead to the spread of unknown diseases, he said. In addition, it could replace marriage for the sake of reproduction through one gender without the need for the other, which is "sinful, sinful, sinful," he said.
In Jerusalem, Israel's chief rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, said that in principle, Judaism favors technological developments and medical progress that can help save a life or solve infertility problems, but rejects the artificial creation of life.
"The moment medical science tries to take upon itself duties and areas which are not its responsibility such as shortening life, cloning, or creating life in an unnatural way we must set down borders in order not to harm the basic belief that there is a creator of the universe in whose hands life and death are placed," a statement from Rabbi Lau's office said.
Several countries have already banned human cloning, including Germany and Britain. Others have legislation pending that would ban it or restrict it.
The United States has no specific law against human cloning. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates human experiments, says its regulations forbid human cloning without prior agency permission.

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