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Bioethics Conferences in Hong Kong
Legionary bioethicist Fr Joseph Tham was invited to speak for three separate groups.

Hong Kong course
A moment from the course at Baptist University.

February 26, 2010.  Fr Joseph Tham, LC, is a physician and bioethicist who teaches at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome. This past February 1-17, he returned to his native city of Hong Kong to give an intensive bioethics course and two additional talks, followed by a visit to his family.

A survey of bioethics challenges

The trip began with an intensive course in bioethics at Holy Spirit Seminary College, the diocesan seminary, from February 1 to 6. The course, given in his native Cantonese Chinese, was entitled “Current Challenges in Bioethics” and gathered a diverse group, including priests from China, seminarians from Hong Kong, a religious sister, lay people who are studying in the theology program, and other lay people who work in pastoral ministries serving married couples, families, and pro-life programs.

The course covered the challenges of the past (secularization of bioethics, contraception), present (moral relativism, utilitarianism, scientism),
poster for current challenges
The promotional poster for the "Current Challenges in Bioethics" course.
and future (new technologies such as nanotechnology and neuroethics which can manipulate or even change our very nature).

For those who speak Chinese, the entire 24 hour program of classes can be downloaded at this link. The diocesan newspaper, Kung Kao Po, also reported on the story here

On cloning and stem cells

During his stay in the former British colony, the Centre of Applied Ethics at Hong Kong Baptist University invited Fr Tham to give a talk on “Cloning and Stem Cells. A bioethical reflection.” In his talk, he focused on how the recent technological advances of cloning, stem cells, and hybrids have “brought us great promises but genuine concerns as well.” He began his talk by presenting the technical date of the new innovations, and then subjected them to a reasoned bioethical critique.

Among the promises that lure scientists in this direction, he cited the possibility of uncovering new knowledge of diseases, the discovery of new cures, and the potential to regenerate tissues and organs to replace damaged ones. At the same time, he noted that “these technologies can raise serious ethical questions regarding the sacrifice of human embryos, trespassing the human-animal boundary, refashioning humankind, and false hopes of immortality.”

“Medicine is at the threshold of a new revolution,” he said, commenting that discernment is crucial to making sure
Hong Kong intensive course
The students of the intensive course at Holy Spirit Seminary College.
that this revolution does not turn against man himself.

A video of the conference, which was given in English, can be watched on the university’s web site at this link.

The legal side of bioethics

A group of Catholic lawyers and two judges from the Thomas More Society then invited Fr Tham to speak on “Advanced Directives from a Catholic Perspective.” Since Hong Kong is currently developing a law on the living will, it was an opportune moment to explain the Catholic position on this matter.

In his talk, Fr Tham explained that “Advanced Directives” allow patients to determine in advance what kinds of treatments to refuse when they become incompetent, as in the cases of coma, terminal illnesses, or a persistent vegetative state. 

He observed, “Even though the Church has not pronounced on this issue, there are many reservations of this practice, which could lead to practices of euthanasia.”

During the course of his trip, Fr Tham met with experts in Confucian and Taoist ethics, nanomedical researchers, and Catholic intellectuals from various places, including the Catholic Studies Center of the Chinese University and Hong Kong University. He is currently involved in groups such as the Hong Kong Diocesan Bioethics Centre and the Diocesan Committee of Pastoral Healthcare as a consultant and as a member.

To view a collection of Fr Tham’s books, articles, power point presentations in PDF format, visit this link.



Related links web site
New Gate Tours
Institute for the Psychological Sciences
Magdala Center
Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College

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