Pope Benedict issued a plea to all scientists today to stop using human embryos for research because it violates their God-given human dignity.
The head of the Catholic Church made his appeal specifically to South Korea, which has been in the international spotlight for its burgeoning bio-medical field over the last couple years, particularly in the area of stem-cell research.
The Holy Father spoke about the matter with South Korea’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Kim Ji-young. He noted that South Korea "has achieved notable successes in scientific research and development," especially in biotechnology which has "the potential to treat and cure illnesses so as to improve the quality of life in your homeland and abroad."
However, Pope Benedict was adamant in condemning the destruction and manipulation of embryonic humans: "discoveries in this field invite man to a deeper awareness of the weighty responsibilities involved in their application," and "under no circumstances may a human being be manipulated or treated as a mere instrument for experimentation.”
He continued his warning saying, “[t]he destruction of human embryos, whether to acquire stem-cells or for any other purpose, contradicts the purported intent of researchers, legislators and public health officials to promote human welfare.”
Making sure that people realize that the he is not against all forms of stem-cell research, the Pope pointed out that the Church does not hesitate to approve and encourage somatic stem-cell research: not only because of the favorable results obtained through these alternative methods, but more importantly because they harmonize with the aforementioned intent by respecting the life of the human being at every stage of his or her existence."
The admonition from Pope Benedict comes as South Korea announced plans earlier this year to remove some of the blocks to human embryonic stem-cell research in place since a 2006 scandal involving forged data in stem-cell studies.