The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care noted this week that respect for human life is what fosters the comprehensive development of nations.
Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski made his comments during a conference on Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Caritas in veritate.” The event was organized by the Political Charity International Association and held at Rome’s Sacro Cuore University.
Archbishop Zygmunt said the Church’s social doctrine pays special attention to the protection of human life. Since the 1970s, he explained, the threats to human life have increased as laws that protected the right to life against abortion, euthanasia, artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization began to be undermined. Such actions led to the human embryo being “reduced to a mere thing,” he added.
These problems constitute “major challenges for Christian social teaching and demand an adequate response,” he added, pointing to John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium vitae” and Benedict XVI’s “Caritas in veritate” as cornerstones for addressing them.
Archbishop Zimowski warned against “an anti-life mentality” whose advocates attempt to pass it off to other countries as “cultural progress.” “This mentality has increased because of laws contrary to life that have been enacted in the most economically developed countries,” he continued. These laws end up defending attacks on human life, such as abortion, as if they constituted “rights of individual freedom.”
The task for believers who deal with a society on these terms is “to develop an ethos capable of presenting arguments in psychological and socio-cultural terms about the meaning and value of the norms that respect human life,” the archbishop continued. “We must overcome very abstract or formal arguments that do not lend themselves to an adequate approach to the present experience,” he said.
The archbishop also urged a change in today’s idea of the “quality of life,” understood only in terms of financial success, physical beauty and unrestrained consumerism, with no room for the relational, spiritual and religious dimensions of existence.
He also referred to the urgency of changing today’s paradigms. Life is not a product but rather a “gift that must be appropriately appreciated,” especially in families, “who have the task of supporting a culture of life.”