World Media Watch

South Korea Delegation Visits Communist North

REUTERS, April 28 — A group of Catholics from the Archdiocese of Seoul, South Korea, traveled to communist North Korea to inspect the results of the humanitarian aid that was sent there, Reuters reported.

This was the first official delegation sent to the country known for suppressing religion. The visit comes after Pope Benedict installed a second cardinal for South Korea earlier this year. Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-Suk is interested in rebuilding the Church in the communist country and having a priest installed there. The cardinal also heads the Roman Catholic diocese in the capital of North Korea, although it is mostly a symbolic title since there are no practicing Catholic priests in the country.

He has not visited the North but Church officials in Seoul said he was preparing events to mark the 80th anniversary of the Pyongyang diocese in 2007. Some human rights groups in South Korea have urged Pope Benedict to visit the North and deliver a message comparing the two Koreas to East and West Germany. The two Koreas have been divided for more than 60 years.

Thousands Sheltered in Catholic Havens After Riots

CATHNEWS, May 2 — About 10,000 East Timorese civilians sought refuge at the Don Bosco Seminary of the Salesian missionaries in Dili while thousands more fled to a Carmelite convent, after a demonstration by ex-soldiers exploded into violence at the weekend, the Australian news service reported.

According to Independent Catholic News, two people were killed and 34 were injured during the April 28 riots in which police and solders took over the streets. The country has seen weeks of unrest following the firing of 593 solders last month.

Father Adriano from the Don Bosco Seminary in Dili said thousands of people have turned to the Church during the unrest.

“Yesterday [April 28] we registered 1,500 families, and there were 7,363 more for Saturday night and Sunday night,” he said. “Most of the people who come here, they’re insecure in their house. So they run away from their house and they feel that they come to Don Bosco, they feel safety in the compound of the church.”

Church of Scotland Backs Embryonic Research

SCOTSMAN, April 21 — In a major break from orthodox Christianity, the Church of Scotland has backed using human embryos for stem-cell research in some circumstances, drawing criticism from the Catholic Church in Scotland, the newspaper reported.

The Church of Scotland’s Society, Religion and Technology Project decided it was ethical to use embryos created during in vitro fertilization if they were under 14 days old. The committee opposed cloning and the deliberate creation of embryos for stem cell research “except into serious diseases and only under exceptional circumstance.”

A key part of the report, and that likely to prove most contentious, is the assertion that embryos under 14 days old did not have the “moral status” of humans.

However, Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said, the church’s willingness to accept the possible benefits from stem-cell treatments gained through embryos was to enter into a discussion of “the ends justifying the means,” which he described as “starting down a dangerous path.”

“If it is appropriate to conduct experiments at 14 days, then why not 13 or 15?” he said. “There’s no logical reason not to as there is no particular important physiological change that takes place on that day. The moment you say it is okay to use embryos, the time is irrelevant.”