06/02/2005, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Cloning means exploiting human life, says South Korean Church

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
The Church urges the faithful of all religions to defend the embryo.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church of South Korea condemns cloning as a form of "exploitation of human life"; it also expresses disapproval for the "world's interest in Professor Hwang's discoveries which do not shed light on the problems stemming from his research".

For Fr Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, chairman of the Bioethics Committee of the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, "it is very sad to witness the current situation, in which result-oriented scientific technology is exploiting human life disregarding moral sense".

"It is also sad the mass media are focusing just on the achievement of Prof. Dr. Hwang Woo-seok with no intention to point out the potential problems," he said.

"In early September, 2005, the Bioethics Committee will hold a symposium concerning the problem of the alleged Bioethics Law, which is now challenged by a constitutional amendment petition filed by the Bioethics Committee," he explained. "And we will keep on making an issue of this problem."

After years of debate, South Korea did in fact adopt a Bioethics and Safety Law in 2004, the first piece of legislation to regulate the bioethics of scientific research in the country, coming into effect on January 1, 2005.

Article 22 of the law bans human cloning but allows 'therapeutic cloning'. But for Fr Paul Lee Chang-young, a member of the Catholic Bioethics Committee, "it is utterly absurd to distinguish embryonal cloning from human cloning". Hence, he would try to protect the embryo together with the faithful of other religions.

Prof Maeng Gwang-ho of the Catholic University of Korea added his voice saying that "[t]hey just praise the achievement of Dr. Hwang with no voice anxious about the possibility of human cloning."

This, he contends, is the problem of a society in which many people have an interest in embryonal stem cell research, apparently not knowing the necessary time for its clinical application and with no interest in basic scientific research.

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