12/29/2005, 00.00
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Arrogant science should be humble before God, says Korean Bishop

In light of the Hwang case, the chairman of the Korean Bishop's Subcommittee on Bioethics urges everyone to reflect upon society's values, which drive many to use every means to accomplish their goals.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Modern science "has become too arrogant"; instead, it "should be humble before God and reflect whether its contribution to human development is truly useful", this according to Mgr Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, bishop of Masan and chairman of the Korean Bishops' Subcommittee on Bioethics, who spoke about the fabricated stem cell research results published by Prof Hwang Woo-suk. A Seoul National University investigation panel found that data provided by Hwang's team were "an intentional fabrication".

In an article Hwang claimed that he had been able to create patient-matched stem cells in 11 stem-cell lines. This gave hope that therapies might developed to treat diseases hitherto considered incurable like Parkinson, diabetes and spinal cord injuries by implanting cloned stem cells to generate healthy tissues.

These revelations mean that "Hwang's research has lost all moral justification", and are even more wrongheaded "because they gave gravely ill people unjustified expectations and hopes".

"We Koreans must reflect on our values which make us want to use every means to accomplish our goal," Bishop Ahn said.

Because of such values, he continued, Koreans have been enthusiastic about Hwang's alleged achievements even though they knew that these were unethical.

The prelate was of the same opinion back in June when, in the wake of the media frenzy surrounding Hwangs's "discoveries", he told AsiaNews how "sad it is to be witness to a situation in which science and technology takes advantage of human life without due regard for ethics".

In a December 23 interview to a weekly magazine published by the diocese of Seoul, Card Stephen Kim Sou-hwan said that the Hwang case is not something that can be solely attributed to one person or group but "affects our entire society, which has lost the value of honesty".

Moved to tears, he said that Hwang's falsification was "a disgrace that won't allow Korea to face the world."

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