Skip to content

Bioethics and UNESCO Declarations

Address by Father Michael Hull

NEW YORK, OCT. 16, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a text prepared by Father Michael Hull, a moral theologian, for an international videoconference on bioethics Sept. 27. The Vatican Congregation for Clergy organized the videoconference of theologians. The text was adapted here.

* * *

Bioethics and UNESCO Declarations

By Father Michael Hull
New York

Bioethics is one of the hottest topics today. We are all aware of the tremendous advances in medical technology and concerned about the implementation of those advances in our world. While much hope is engendered among us in light of the potential for good, we are rightly wary of the potential for evil.

Unfortunately, the potential for evil increases in direct proportion to the opportunity for manipulation of human beings by various special-interest groups whether for financial or ideological gain, for example, totalitarian (particularly communist) governments, for-profit (particularly biomedical and pharmaceutical) corporations, and immoral (particularly pro-abortion) sociopolitical movements of every stripe.

None of us can afford to stand on the sideline with the stakes so high. Who determines good from evil, right from wrong, permissible from impermissible, or legal from illegal in global bioethics?

The United Nations has come to the fore in the debate with two documents by UNESCO, the "Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights" (November 11, 1997) and the "Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights" (October 19, 2005), both of which have their foundation vis-ŕ-vis human rights in the U.N.'s much earlier "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (December 10, 1948).

These two documents are the direct result of an attempt to stop exploitation of the human genome with UNESCO's establishment of the International Bioethics Committee in 1993. By that time, it had become evident that an international forum was long overdue.

The "Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights" recognizes the human genome as that which "underlies the fundamental unity of all members of the human family" (Article 1) and insists that human dignity and respect for genetic diversity be maintained (Article 2). Moreover, it states that the human genome "shall not give rise to financial gains" (Article 4), that "practices which are contrary to human dignity, such as reproductive cloning of human beings, shall not be permitted" (Article 11), and that human beings are to be protected from abuse, especially the "vulnerable" (Article 24 "et passim").

All of this is surely positive, but there is one salient drawback, namely, the failure to defend the right to life from conception to natural death. In the words of the late Pope John Paul II: "It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop" ("Evangelium Vitae," No. 101).

The most vulnerable, the unborn, remain at risk. The "Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights" fails on the same point. Although there is much to be said for it in terms of its vigilance for social responsibility (Article 14 "et passim") and the sharing of all biomedical findings and advances by the entire human family (Article 15), the glaring omission of the primary and fundamental right to life for all human beings, born and unborn, cannot be ignored.

These documents are certainly a step forward in protecting the world's population from manipulation, but there is much more to be done. The International Bioethics Committee continues to meet as do the various national agencies such as the President's Council on Bioethics in the United States of America.

Yet, unless these committees and councils begin to apply human reason soundly in accord with the natural moral law, an anemic understanding of the human being -- made in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus the Lord -- will continue to prevail to the detriment of the human being and his dignity until the Lord comes again.


Catholic Online CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Bioethics, Life, Hull

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.