Skip to main content


Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience

2/19/2009 - 16:15 PST

Advertisment

Vatican Conference to Consider Ethical Use of Knowledge

By Carmen Elena Villa

VATICAN CITY (Zenit) - Scientific investigation should grow and advance, but with an ethical conscience, especially in the area of genetics, says the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella affirmed this Tuesday at a press conference focused on an upcoming congress about genetics and the risk of eugenics. This congress is promoted by the academy on the occasion of its 15th general assembly, which will take place Friday and Saturday.

Archbishop Fisichella recognized the advances of investigations conducted over the past decade on the Human Genome Project, which have allowed the identification of thousands of hereditary diseases, thus avoiding many congenital ills.

He explained how genetics, "while on a premarital level and prior to conception is applied in order to verify the risk of being carriers of diseases, now is being applied to a prenatal level and implies -- as you can imagine -- problems of ethical character." Due to this, he added, babies carrying diseases are killed in the womb.

Every scientific conquest generates possibilities and risks, the prelate contended. He noted that the trend of eugenics is not just a theoretical question, but is rather "a mentality that spreads slowly but inexorably."

He continued, "As often happens, a subtle linguistic formalism coupled with good advertising supported by powerful economic interests makes [us] lose sight of the real underlying dangers, and tends to create a mentality that is no longer able to recognize the evil objective nor make a corresponding ethical judgment."

For this reason, Archbishop Fisichella explained, the Holy See thought of convoking an international congress to "verify if in genetic experimentation there are aspects that tend toward and in fact set in motion an act of eugenics."

He also criticized the accompanying reductive mentality that "tends to consider that there are people who have less value than others," either because of their social status or "because of their physical condition, such as the disabled, mentally ill or those persons considered to be in a vegetative state, or elderly people with serious diseases."

Middle road

The congress, the archbishop said, seeks to find a common path between extremes -- that of the rejection of scientific progress and that of the rejection of ethics.

For this reason, he said, it should aim to enable the growth and progress of "the ethical conscience without which each achievement would only be partial."

The congress, which will take place in the Vatican's new synod hall, is expected to draw 400 participants, including physicians, biologists, theologians and philosophers. Its objective is to underline the current possibilities of medical intervention to combat genetic diseases and to analyze the development of eugenics from a legal as well as anthropological point of view.

The possible forms of eugenics will also be examined in order to make a global assessment and to offer guidance and criteria in line with the teachings of the magisterium of the Church, to be able to respond to this challenge.

Speaking at the conference, among others, will be Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, and Cardinal Antonio Cańizares, newly appointed prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org  CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

customerservice@catholic.org

Keywords

Genetics, Conscience

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

1 - 1 of 1 Comments

  1. Terry Brennan
    4 years ago

    Are any of the Cardinals or other church officials at this conference biologists or genetisists, and have they participated in reaearch in this specific area of genomics? Won't any beautiful advancement in our knowledge, given to us by God, be open to misuse by some evil person or organization, and shouldn't we spend more time on that than on discouraging or scaring people away from science.

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment


Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 26:1-9
At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 69:6, 8-10, 14
Those who hope in you must not be made fools of, Yahweh ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:54-58
and, coming to his home town, he taught the people in their ... Read More

Saint of the Day

August 1 Saint of the Day

St. Alphonsus Marie Liguori
August 1: Bishop, Doctor of the Church, and the founder of the ... Read More