Monday, February 15, 2010

Bioethics: Human Dignity and Natural Moral Law - Pope
Vatican City: February 15, 2010, (PCTV Newsdesk)

On Feb 13 the Holy Father received in audience members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the president of which is Archbishop Rino Fisichella. The academy is currently meeting for its annual plenary assembly.

"The problems revolving around the question of bioethics", said the Pope, "bring the anthropological question to the fore"; this concerns "human life in its perennial tension between immanence and transcendence, and has great importance for the culture of future generations".

Hence, he went on, "it is necessary to institute a comprehensive educational project which enables these themes to be approached from a positive, balanced and constructive standpoint, especially as regards the relationship between faith and reason."

Bioethical questions often throw light on the dignity of the person, a fundamental principle which faith in Jesus Christ ... has always defended, especially when it is overlooked in dealings with the most simple and defenceless people", he added.

"Bioethics, like any other discipline, needs guidelines capable of guaranteeing a coherent reading of the ethical questions which inevitably emerge when faced with possible conflicts of interpretation. In this space lies the normative call to natural moral law".

"Recognising human dignity as an inalienable right has its first foundation in that law - unwritten by the hand of man but inscribed by God the Creator in man's heart - which all juridical systems are called to recognise as inviolable, and all individuals to respect and promote. Without the basic principle of human dignity it would be difficult to find a wellspring for the rights of the person, and impossible to reach ethical judgements about those scientific advances which have a direct effect on human life".

"When we invoke respect for the dignity of the person, it is fundamental that such respect should be complete, total and unimpeded, ... recognising that we are always dealing with a human life", said Pope Benedict. "Of course, human life has its own development and the research horizon for science and bioethics remains open, but it must be reiterated that when dealing with matters which involve human beings, scientists must never think they are dealing with inanimate and manipulable material. In fact, from its first instant, the life of man is characterised by the fact of being a human life, and for this reason it has, always and everywhere, its own dignity".

"Conjugating bioethics and natural moral law is the best way to ensure" recognition for "the dignity that human life intrinsically possesses from its first instant to its natural end".

The Pope also highlighted "the commitment that must be shown in the various areas of society and culture in order to ensure that human life is always recognised as an unalienable subject of law, and never as an object dependent on the whims of the powerful". In this context he pointed out that "history has shown how dangerous and damaging a State can be when it proceeds to make laws that touch the person and society, while itself claiming to be the source and principle of ethics".

"Natural moral law", the Holy Father concluded, "is a guarantee for legislators to show true respect both for the person and for the entire order of creation. It is the catalysing source of consensus among peoples from different cultures and religions, enabling differences to be overcome by affirming the existence of an order imprinted into nature by the Creator, ... an authentic call to use ethical-rational judgement to seek good and avoid evil".


Anonymous said...

This article reminds me of the fact that in order to adhere to and practice natural law one must also adhere to a higher law. It is no coincidence that the rejection of the natural law has accompanied the rejection of the law of grace. Contrary to "popular" belief, religion and society cannot be separated without disastrous effects.

Anonymous said...

"Conjugating bioethics and natural moral law" - who decides what the natural moral law is? Shouldn't this be decided by the court of law in conjunction with scientists and scholars and not some religious authority.

The catholic church has in the past often displayed how outdated its idea of morality and ethics are, by campaigning against against the use of condoms in South America and Africa, where people are dying by the millions - of AIDS. Right, asking them to abstain is one solution, but it obviously doesn't work, and any amount of 'confessions to the sin' in the church wont avoid AIDS.

As for abortion - ask the pregnant teenager or a rape victim what she wants, don't ask the church for God's sake. Let alone the pope, but no man knows what it is to be pregnant. Raising an unwanted child for 18 years is beyond thought for them.

It would be great if you would let this comment stay on your blog - for sake of freedom of speech. But, I would not be surprised if you took it off and would respect your decision - it is your private space after all, on the internet.

Anyways, greetings and yes - God Bless You!

Annie said...

I'm not afraid of dialogue or putting my name to it. I hope anonymous #1 comes back for a visit since this space is for dialogue. You have not been insulting or denigrating so there is no reason to exclude your voice.

Quanah said...

a.k.a anonymous #1

"Who decides what the natural moral law is?" A very good question, indeed. One may say what they want about the Church, but the State absolutely has no authority to decide what the natural moral law is. First, who gives the state this authority? What does history tell us about states making judgments for themselves about natural law? The very same court system and legislature that outlawed slavery was also the one that said blacks are only 3/5 of a person and "separate but equal." Scientist? There is no consensus among scientist. Scholars? Same thing. An example: Many would say natural law upholds homosexuality. Um, the plumbing doesn't fit. Hmm, even at a basic biological level it's not natural.

The Church does not make up Her teachings. The Church's teachings are ancient and perenial. They are also not the product of human reasoning, but founded on Divine revelation. When we get right down to it, people don't like the Church's answers because what the Church teaches is hard. The simple fact of the matter is that condoms are not nearly as effective as people would like to think they are. And this has been acknowledged by medical professionals who have down exstensive studies on condom use. There is only one country in Africa that has been seeing a significant decrease in AIDS for the past few years. The Church has a very strong presence in that country and people are following Her teachings in that country. Everywhere else the likes of Planned Parenthood say,"it's getting worse; send more condoms." More condoms are sent and the problem just doesn't seem to get better. Hmm.

As an aside, I often wonder why so many people think that supporting a woman getting an abortion (even a rape victim or teenager) is putting themselves in her shoes. I wonder what the rape victims and teens who have had abortions would say about that. There are many apostolates that help women who have suffered abortions. These women never say they wanted the abortion or that they were glad they got it. They always say that if they had the support they needed from the fathers or from their family that they wouldn't have gotten the abortion. Hmm, isn't the support they crave exactly what the Church tells us we should give. But not the state. The state says, "This child [who could be given for adoption] is going to ruin your life. Abort! Abort! Abort!"