(RNS) Conservative Christian leaders hailed the passage of the HumanCloning Prohibition Act by the House on Tuesday, saying thevote supported "human dignity" and upheld moral values.

The comprehensive ban, passed 265-162, would prevent cloning,including the creation of cloned human embryos for stem-cell research.That research is controversial because it requires the destruction ofembryos but potentially could lead to new treatments for a number ofdiseases.

Cardinal William Keeler, chairman of the U.S. Conference of CatholicBishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, was among those praising thevote. He urged the Senate to approve the legislation.

"By approving a law against human cloning, Congress will send aclear signal that we are not merely the victims of technical advance,that we can limit and direct our technological powers to serve and notdemean human dignity," Keeler said in a statement.

Roberta Combs, executive vice president of the Christian Coalitionof America, also welcomed the vote.

"America rejects science without values attached -- we still havemorals and morality prevailed today," she said in a statement.

Family Research Council President Ken Connor said of the vote: "Thisis a major victory for the sanctity of human life. The bipartisan votein the House ... has sent Frankenstein packing."

The president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whichopposed the ban's effect on research, said if the legislation becomeslaw, the progress of new medical treatments will be reversed. In astatement, Carl B. Feldbaum called on the Senate to consider the medicalbenefits and "to separate the technology's therapeutic use from its usefor human reproductive cloning, a concept the biotechnology industryfinds to be repugnant and unsafe."

President Bush, who has yet to make a decision about federal fundingof stem-cell research, issued a statement commending the House action.

"The moral issues posed by human cloning are profound and haveimplications for today and for future generations," Bush said. "We mustadvance the promise and cause of science, but must do so in a way thathonors and respects life."

In a separate but related matter, a panel of the Japanese Cabinetapproved guidelines Wednesday for stem-cell research that would onlyinvolve embryos discarded from fertility treatments. The move isexpected to be formally approved by the Science and Technology Agencylater in August, the Associated Press reported.