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Communication on June 11

2009.08.25 13:50

Views:5376

* Government to Support Research on Adult Stem Cells Led by a Catholic Medical Institute

The Ministry of Health and Welfare of Korea announced on May 31, 2004 that the Institute of Cell and Gene Therapy of the Catholic Medical Center (CMC), a general hospital affiliated with the Medical School of the Catholic University in Korea, was selected as the government-supported research institute on cell therapy and will be granted 12 billion won (USD 10 million) for six years.

With this government grants, the Institute is likely to be more dedicated in a leading position to the research on stem cells and cell therapy, which is one of the ten main projects of the Health Ministry. It is also expected to animate the research on adult stem cells, thereby casting new light on regenerative medicine. In fact, the Catholic Church has constantly proposed adult stem cell study as an alternative to embryonic stem cell study.

Recognizing the gravity of ethical problems related to embryonic stem cell study, the CMC has concentrated on adult stem cell study and made positive effort, such as hosting international symposiums on stem cells and opening a cell therapy center.

Prof. Oh Il-hwan, Director of the Institute, will lead this big-scale project in cooperation with many medical doctors from diverse spheres, including hematology, cardioangiology, neurology, autoimmunity-related diseases, diabetes and hepatism.

Prof. Oh said, "Even though the government on some occasions supported the study on embryonic stem cells or the cloning of somatic cells, this is the first support for study on adult stem cells. Through this project, I hope to propose alternative answers to ethical and social controversies related to stem cell study conducted home and abroad."

This project was planned by the Health Ministry to make Korea a hub of cell therapy in Northeast Asia, so the Institute will strive to develop more improved cell therapy products and, in particular, to study medical approaches using adult stem cells.

* Archdiocese of Seoul to Support Child Care System in Parishes for Christian Education in Childhood

The Episcopal Council of the Archdiocese of Seoul held its regular meeting on June 2, 2004 and decided to positively encourage the establishment of child care facilities in parishes, given the importance of Christian education in childhood and to give assistance to working couples with their parenting.

Accordingly, the Archdiocese decided to support some part of the cost when parishes establish such facilities and to listen to the opinions of pastors on the spot to prepare more detailed plans.

"This decision reflects the concern of the Archdiocese for families and working parents. If the Church wants to encourage parents to give birth to more children, it should first take care of the realistic difficulties they face in bringing up children," said a source of the Archdiocese.

The Rev. Thomas Aquinas Choi Chang-hwa, chancellor of the Archdiocese, also wished this plan to bear many fruits, saying, "I hope that many child care facilities can be established in our Archdiocese and that they offer education of quality for children in local community."

* 2003 Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea Published

The 2003 Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea, published June 7, 2004 by the Catholic Conference of Korea, clearly showed the aging of Catholic population in Korea, calling for multifaceted pastoral programs for the elderly and at the same time for the youth.

According to the Statistics, the number of faithful aged 50-59 and 60-69 increased 22.9% and 36.7%, respectively, while the number of those aged under 40 decreased as a whole. In particular, those aged 6 and under and aged 7-19 showed rapid drop of 18.4% and 9.1% and age groups of 20-29 and of 30-39 also decreased by 7.7% and 7.2%.

The total number of the Catholics in Korea was 4,430,791 or 9.1% of the total population (48,823,837) as of December 31, 2003. Compared to the previous year, it increased 83,186 or 1.9%. However, the increasing rate of the number of Catholics dropped from 2.8% in 2002 to 1.9%. The rate has constantly decreased since 1994 and finally lowered to under 2.0%.

The rate of the newly baptized also decreased; the number of those baptized in 2003 was 135,379, 1.7% decreased from 137,723 in 2002. However, for the Military Ordinariate, 18,912 persons were baptized, showing 11.9% of increase. In fact, among the 21,183 newly baptized men in their 20s, 17,815 persons belong to the Military Ordinariate.

The rate of Sunday Mass attendants was not changed much as 26.9% and the rate of lethargic faithful was still high as 35.7%.

The number of faithful was highest in the Archdiocese of Seoul as 1,428,993, followed by Suwon (599,044), Taegu (402,958), Pusan (379,030) and Inchoen (375,313).

The Statistics also indicated that the number of parishes was 1,359, increased by 56 places and that of secondary stations was 989, decreased by 53 places from the year of 2002. Besides, in the Catholic Church in Korea there is one cardinal, four archbishops, 26 bishops (including two foreigners), 19 monsignors, and 3,584 priests (3,396 Koreans and 188 foreigners). The number of men and women religious was 1,352 and 9,343, respectively.

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