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The Associated Press Gets it Wrong

Contact: Mark Bradford, Director of Development, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, 215-877-2660


PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 12 /Christian Newswire/ -- A recent Associated Press story by Nicole Winfield, posted on the web Friday, October 12, calls out for correction.

The article accurately states that Pope Benedict XVI has asked the South Koreans not to resume embryonic stem cell research, now that the scandal caused by Hwang Woo-suk is receding from their collective memory. Hwang claimed to have cloned human embryos and was lauded as a national hero until his work was proved to be a fraud.

At the end of Winfield's article, she states: "Benedict noted that the Vatican does not oppose -- and in fact encourages -- somatic stem cell research -- also known as 'therapeutic cloning', which uses human eggs specifically for research from which stem cells are harvested."

This is false. Ms. Winfield has confused the terms. The Catholic Church does support "somatic" stem cell research, if by this Winfield means adult stem cell research. The Church is resolutely opposed to "therapeutic cloning," which is the production of a cloned human being solely for the purpose of destroying him or her in research.

Such glaring errors of fact are inexcusable.

Also problematic is the headline of her article: "Pope to South Korea: No Stem Cell Research." If the Church encourages adult stem cell research, as Winfield notes, how can it be true to say that the Pope told the South Koreans "no stem cell research"?

This is a clear example of bias. The media casts the Church's position in absolute terms, ignoring her careful distinction between licit and illicit forms of research. The Pope has not told the South Koreans "no stem cell research." Rather, he has encouraged the pursuit of ethical stem cell research.