The Vatican pulled the plug on its 2012 stem cell meeting this week because some of the very speakers it had itself invited were deemed too controversial.
Because these speakers work on or support embryonic stem cell research and for lack of a better way to put it, the Vatican was afraid these scientists might talk about embryonic stem cells.
Now the Vatican is in damage control mode and has come up with apparently fake reasons for canceling the meeting.
If you go to the website of the meeting it announces it was cancelled and says:
Due to serious economic and logistic-organizational reasons that have completely jeopardized the success of the 3rd International Congress on Responsible Stem Cell Research, the Organizers have decided to cancel the event.
This seems entirely bogus, particularly after Catholic News organizations said the real reason was the presence of certain speakers that the Vatican itself had invited, but later viewed as bad guys.
So, you organize a meeting and invite people, you decide some of those people are very bad and might say things you don’t want to hear so cancel your entire meeting, and then come up with phony reasons for canceling it? Meanwhile, Catholic News agencies are accurately reporting the real reasons you canceled the meeting and are reporting that many in the Vatican and more generally many Catholics view this as a scandal.
Talk about a PR debacle.
If the Vatican had hoped through these meetings and other activities to have any legitimacy in the stem cell field whatsoever, that is all out the window now. In addition, the opportunity for a real dialogue and meeting of the minds is gone too.
However, it is notable that this fiasco has indicated that some in the Vatican have open minds about stem cell research. So I refuse to give up hope that some day the Vatican may change its position.