Monday, May 11, 2009

The Bishops on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The Catholic Church in Korea as in the rest of the world is doing battle with the notion that it is perfectly legitimate to experiment with embryonic cells for the benefit of the sick. The prevailing opinion is one that says: the end justifies the means. The Catholic bishops of the United States have said in their statement on this issue:"Harvesting embryonic stem cells is a “gravely immoral” and “absolutely unacceptable” act that involves the deliberate killing of innocent human beings "... “Because life is our first and most basic gift from an infinitely loving God, it deserves our utmost respect and protection.” The bishops rejected research proponents’ argument that any harm done in embryonic stem cell research is outweighed by the potential benefits, saying the idea that a good end can justify direct killing “has been the source of much evil in our world.”

The Korean Bishops have long been making the same statements but now that the government has given the qualified okay to the experimentation the bishops have given response to the latest decision of the National Bioethics Committee with the statement of Bishop Chang reported below as taken from their newsletter:

The Most Rev. Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, President of the Committee for Bioethics of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK), issued a message on April 29, 2009, protesting the decision of the National Bioethics Committee to give a qualified consent to the stem cell research on the somatic cloned human embryo, requested by the researchers of CHA General Hospital in Seoul.

In his message, Bishop Chang said, "The Committee cannot but deplore the fact that a national institution leads the way in the destruction of life. There is shown even contempt for life which will be brought about by such a research aiming for the development of embryonic stem cell production. This also includes the production of stem cells from cloned human embryo, on the excuse that it will help in the treatment for incurable diseases. The newly approved stem cell research on the somatic cloned human embryo is an act of ruthless violence destroying human life in the name of science." (worked the above into shorter sentences )

And Bishop Chang stressed, "The Catholic Church never turns her face away from the patients who are suffering from the incurable disease, even if she opposes the research on the somatic cloned human embryo. More than any other organization, the Catholic Church has worked and will work for the terminally-ill patients with other concerned parties."

In conclusion, Bishop Chang said, "The Catholic Church supports ... the adult stem cell research and the stem cell research... of skin cells. Such researches can be rewarded with good results without the destruction of human life, in defiance of nature. … Bio-technology should strive for the true development of human beings, standing by life, recognizing its precious vocation to serve the integral life."

Three years ago, the government banned all stem cell researches on the somatic cloned embryo, as the scandal of Dr. Hwang Woo-seok resulted in a great social confusion. At that time, Dr. Hwang manipulated the results of the embryonic stem cell research to entice the government subsidy. His misbehavior aroused so much public rage that the government had to ban all researches related to the stem cell research in general.


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