VATICAN CITY – During a meeting with patients suffering from a genetic brain disorder on Thursday, the Pope called for an end to the stigma around the disease but warned that no scientific investigation, no matter how noble its aim, justified the destruction of human embryos.
Pope Francis met with patient groups and families affected by Huntington’s disease as well as associations working to spread awareness about the inherited neurodegenerative illness.
“Some lines of investigation, in fact, use human embryos, inevitably leading to their destruction. But we know that no goal, even if it is noble – such as the possibility of scientific use, for other human beings or for society – can justify the destruction of human embryos,” the pontiff said.
Huntington’s affects some 2.7 of every 100,000 people and scientists have yet to find a cure.
The group who met with Francis at the Vatican campaign predominantly to raise awareness about the disease in South America, which has the highest rate of Huntington’s in the world.
The Pope praised the tireless work of geneticists and scientists who have for decades dedicated themselves to finding a cure for Huntington’s and improved the lives of suffers in the meantime with medical advances.
He warned researchers against succumbing to a culture of disposal, adding that it had already infiltrated certain sectors of science.
Francis called for an end to the stigmas surrounding Huntington’s disease, which in the past, he said, had led those affected by the illness to feel “shameful, isolated and abandoned.”
Huntington’s, also known as Huntington’s chorea, is a neurological disease that causes brain cells to die, leading to dementia and motor dysfunction.