Editorial: Stephen Hawking is Wrong. Church is a Defender of Life, Science and the Person
such research may also be made available in areas of the world that are poor and afflicted by disease, so that those who are most in need will receive humanitarian assistance".
Following the release of the instruction the Press was filled with reports concerning its content. A few accurately described it and affirmed its significance. Others passed on the caricatures of the Catholic Church such as what Hawkings said to Sawyer in this ABC interview. When I read professor Hawkings comments I felt compelled to again encourage all Catholics to read this teaching document. It is a "doctrinal" statement of the ordinary magisterium (teaching office) and must be given the full assent of our intellect and will. However, it was addressed not only to Catholics, other Christians or even just people of faith, it is addressed to "all who seek the truth". It presents the truth by drawing upon the "light both of reason and faith and seeks to set forth an integral vision of man and his vocation".
The Church does not discourage progress in biomedicine, it encourages it. However, the human person is never an "it" - but an "I" - some-one who must never be treated as an object. "The body of a human being, from the very first stages of its existence, can never be reduced merely to a group of cells. The embryonic human body develops progressively according to a well defined program with its proper finality, as is apparent in the birth of every baby."
The insistence upon this framework for evaluating biomedicine is revealed in the Natural Law; the fundamental human right to life and the dignity of human persons. This right is knowable by and binding upon all men and women and is not simply a "religious" construct. Footnote 7 within the document cites Pope Benedict XVI's presentation to the United Nations in April of 2008 which summarizes this point well:
"Human rights.in particular the right to life of every human being "are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts and present in different cultures and civilizations. Removing human rights from this context would mean restricting their range and yielding to a relativistic conception, according to which the meaning and interpretation of rights could vary and their universality would be denied in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks. This great variety of viewpoints must not be allowed to obscure the fact that not only rights are universal, but so too is the human person, the subject of those rights"
I am deeply grateful for the Catholic Church, Defender of Life and Promoter of Science at the Service of the Person. What is needed are well formed Catholics who can learn how to defend the truth presented by the Church to an age which has lost its common sense, reason and moral compass. We need to read what our Church teaches and be ready to contend for the culture.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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