Pope tells Life academy to defend human dignity with courage

Pope tells Life academy to defend human dignity with courage

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square June 17, 2015. Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.
Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square June 17, 2015. Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

.- Dialogue with society for the protection of human dignity and the common good, which are under threat, Pope Francis said in a letter to the Pontifical Academy for Life, published Tuesday.

“We know that the threshold of basic respect for human life is being crossed, and brutally at that, not only by instances of individual conduct but also by the effects of societal choices and structures,” the pope wrote.

In an over 3,000-word letter to the president of the Vatican’s life academy, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Francis encouraged the group to be a place “for courageous dialogue in the service of the common good.”

As never before, he said, business strategies and the pace of technological development is influencing “biomedical research, educational priorities, investment decisions and the quality of interpersonal relationships.”

A love for creation, deepened and illuminated by faith, has “the possibility of directing economic development and scientific progress towards the covenant between man and woman, towards caring for our common humanity and towards the dignity of the human person,” he said.

Sent for the 25th anniversary of the academy’s institution, the letter urged active participation in the intercultural, interdisciplinary, and interreligious discussion of human rights. “At stake is the understanding and exercise of a justice that demonstrates the essential role of responsibility in the discussion of human rights,” duties, and solidarity with those in need, he said.

The pope’s letter also commented on the need for the Church to study “emergent” and “convergent” technologies, such as formation and communication technologies, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and robotics.

Due to advancements in physics, genetics, neuroscience and computing, it is now possible to make “profound interventions on living organisms,” he said, which creates a “pressing need” to understand “these epochal changes and new frontiers” in order to put them at the service of the human person while “respecting and promoting the intrinsic dignity of all.”

Pope Francis noted that Pope St. John Paul II’s institution of the academy on Feb. 11, 1994, was, as he wrote at the time, to promote research, education, and communications which show “that science and technology, at the service of the human person and his fundamental rights, contribute to the overall good of man and to the fulfilment of the divine plan of salvation.”

The Pontifical Academy for Life’s new statutes, adopted in October 2016, were intended to give a “renewed impetus” to this task and to engagement with contemporary issues surrounding technological and scientific advancement, he explained.

“It is time,” he wrote, “for a new vision aimed at promoting a humanism of fraternity and solidarity between individuals and peoples,” knowing that they are not completely closed off “to the seeds of faith and the works of this universal fraternity sown by the Gospel of the kingdom of God.”

Fraternity must continue to be emphasized, the letter continues. “It is one thing to resign oneself to seeing life as a battle against constant foes, but something entirely different to see our human family as a sign of the abundant life of God the Father and the promise of a common destiny redeemed by the infinite love that even now sustains it in being.”

Pope Francis also praised the 25-year history of the academy, which he said has shown a “constant effort to protect and promote human life and every stage of its development,” condemning abortion and euthanasia as “extremely grave evils.”

“These efforts must certainly continue, with an eye to emerging issues and challenges that can serve as an opportunity for us to grow in the faith, to understand it more deeply and to communicate it more effectively to the people of our time,” he said.

Tags: Catholic News, Human dignity, Pontifical Academy for Life, Common good