03/14/2005, 00.00
south korea
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Way Of The Cross To Emphasize Dignity Of Human Life From Conception

Seoul (AsiaNews/Ucan) - Catholics of Seoul archdiocese are finding new meaning in a traditional devotion by praying the Way of the Cross "for life" this Lent. The archdiocese's One Heart One Body Movement introduced special prayers it scripted to emphasize the dignity of human life.

"The Way of the Cross for Life" addresses various aspects of bioethics. At each of the 14 stations, prayers address issues such as experimentation on embryos and use of stem cells, which are capable of developing into various human organs, as well as abortion and a trend of taking life lightly.

For example, at the first station, where Jesus is condemned to death, the meditation in the booklet says, "human embryos in mothers' wombs, which are endowed with life from Divine Providence, are sentenced to death." It explains that the act of allowing experimentation on or cloning of human embryos, which are human beings, is the same as sentencing them to death. Such embryos are destroyed by or after their scientific use.

At the eighth station, where Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, the script deals with abortion. It prays for God to lead "those who are in temptation of abortion to be aware of the importance of life and to accept babies" as God's gift.

The One Heart One Body Movement published "The Way of the Cross for Life" to raise awareness among Catholics on human life by explaining bioethics issues and terms. The South Korean Church has raised objections to the bioethics law that came into effect Jan. 1, which bans human cloning for reproductive purposes but allows research on human embryos for medical treatment. Last week the UN General Assembly has urged governments to ban all human cloning, including that of human embryos for stem-cell research.

The One Heart One Body Movement has thus far distributed 39,000 copies to 245 parishes.

Banpo Parish ordered 1,900 additional copies. "As a parish priest" Father Joseph Park Sun-yong, said "I need to provide the Church's teaching on the issue". According to these teachings, ha said, "life begins at conception, so experimentation on human embryos or fetuses is forbidden".

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