PARIS (CNS) — The French bishops described as “shocking” the French Senate’s approval of a law permitting the use of human embryos for stem-cell research.

“The human embryo has the right to be protected,” and current French law urges “respect for the human person ‘from the beginning of its life,'” said Archbishop Pierre D’Ornellas of Rennes in a statement issued on behalf of the bishops’ conference.

“The Senate has challenged this respect. This is shocking,” the archbishop said in the statement, released Dec. 6.

Archbishop D’Ornellas, who represented the church in the dialogue with government officials that led to the adoption in 2011 of a national bioethics law, said the Senate decision to disregard the lives of the embryos, who are destroyed in the research, is even more shocking when one considers the general move in science toward using adult stem cells instead of those from embryos.

The archbishop also said the Senate violated the mandate in the 2011 law that requires widespread discussion and debate before a vote on any bill touching on bioethical matters.

Before going into effect, the proposed law still would have to be approved by members of the National Assembly.