“We need but think of the vast field of research in genetics, aimed at curing a variety of diseases. Yet this progress has also raised a number of anthropological and ethical issues, such as those dealing with the manipulation of the human genome aimed at controlling or even overcoming the aging process, or at achieving human enhancement,” he said.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin also addressed the conference via video message on May 8.
The cardinal said that human beings are distinguished from animals by rationality, “a high degree of self-understanding” and reflection on others and the universe.
“Another unique feature is the moral conscience that allows us to act by distinguishing between what is good and what is bad. This fundamental reference causes us to ask ourselves ethical questions about our actions, about society, about the use of the tools that we develop and make socially usable,” Parolin said.
“A strong moral sense pushes us to denounce and take actions that put an end to injustices through philanthropic and solidarity actions that counteract the manifestations of evil.”
He also noted that humans are capable of contemplating beauty and artistic expression in many different forms, as well as possessing “the openness to the transcendent horizon which in the lives of many of us leads to religious experience, but which also prompts us to question ourselves about the ultimate questions.”
“The ancient thinkers encapsulated this specificity and uniqueness of the human being in a single term, humanitas, which from Cicero onwards became the category with which to indicate the objective principle of a complex system of exquisitely human moral values,” Parolin said.
“Now, this day seals the three days full of content, and is also the final moment of a complex itinerary of reflection. However, it is also an openness to a constant search for human natures conducted by the philosophers and men of culture of the past. My wish is, therefore, to continue to deepening the mystery of our being with enthusiasm and determination, to discover and be fascinated by what makes us truly human," he said.