A long year for U.S. Catholics ended with the belated resignation of Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law. Law’s departure seems to promise a new beginning, at least in Boston, for victims of sexual abuse as well as the church as a whole. At the same time, hardly a week goes by when another accused priest is not suspended from ministry in one diocese or another. The damage done to the church’s credibility and moral stature by this scandal will take years, if not decades, to restore.

The effects of the scandal are especially unfortunate because a vigorous Catholic perspective is needed on the most pressing issues of the day. In addition to Cardinal Law’s departure, the year ended with the announcement, yet to be verified, of the birth of the first human clone, a girl portentously named Eve. An obscure religious sect, the Raëlians, has allegedly taken this step toward the eugenic future. Other scientists have promised to produce human clones within the year.

There’s a broad consensus, within both the scientific and religious communities, that "reproductive" cloning should be prohibited. The technique itself is prone to failure and amounts to experimenting on a human being. Even if the procedure is successful, a cloned child faces the likelihood of future genetic abnormalities or illness. Just as important, in allowing a parent to determine the entire genetic makeup of an offspring, cloning threatens...

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