ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE PLENARY ASSEMBLY
OF THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE
Monday, 25 February 2019
Brothers and sisters,
I cordially greet you on the occasion of your General Assembly, and I thank Archbishop Paglia for his kind words. This meeting takes place in the first Jubilee of the Academy for Life: 25 years after its birth. On this important anniversary, I sent the President last month a letter titled Humana communitas. What moved me to write this message is, first of all, the wish to thank all the Presidents who have taken the lead of the Academy and all the Members for the competent service and the generous commitment to protect and promote human life in these 25 years of activity.
We know the difficulties in which our world struggles. The fabric of family and social relations seems to wear down more and more and there is a tendency to close on oneself and on one's own individual interests, with serious consequences on the "great and decisive question of the unity of the human family and its future" (Lett. Humana communitas, 2). A dramatic paradox is thus outlined: just when humanity possesses the scientific and technical capacities to achieve a fairly widespread well-being, according to God's delivery, we observe instead an exacerbation of conflicts and an increase in inequality. The enlightenment myth of progress declines and the accumulation of the potentialities that science and technology have provided us do not always get the desired results. In fact, on the one hand, technological development has allowed us to solve problems that were insurmountable until a few years ago, and we are grateful to the researchers who have achieved these results; on the other hand, difficulties and threats, sometimes more insidious than the previous ones, have emerged. The "being able to do" risks obscuring the person doing and the person doing it. The technocratic system based on the criterion of efficiency does not respond to the most profound questions that man poses; and if on the one hand it is not possible to do without its resources, on the other it imposes its logic on those who use them. Yet the technique is characteristic of the human being. It should not be understood as a force that is alien to and hostile to it, but as a product of its ingenuity through which it provides for the needs of living for oneself and for others. It is therefore a specifically human mode of inhabiting the world. However, today's evolution of technical capacity produces a dangerous enchantment: instead of delivering the tools that improve their care to human life, there is the risk of giving life to the logic of the devices that decide its value. This overturning is destined to produce nefarious outcomes: the machine is not limited to driving alone, but ends up guiding man. Human reason is thus reduced to an alienated rationality of effects, which can not be considered worthy of man.
We see, unfortunately, the serious damage caused to the planet, our common home, from the indiscriminate use of technical means. This is why global bioethics is an important front on which to engage. It expresses awareness of the profound impact of environmental and social factors on health and life. This approach is very in tune with the integral ecology, described and promoted in the Encyclical Laudato si '. Moreover, in today's world, marked by a close interaction between different cultures, we need to bring our specific contribution of believers to the search for universally shared operational criteria, which are common points of reference for the choices of those who have the serious responsibility for decisions take on a national and international level. This also means engaging in dialogue regarding human rights, clearly highlighting their corresponding duties. In fact they constitute the ground for the common search for a universal ethic, on which we find many questions that tradition has dealt with by drawing on the patrimony of natural law.
The Lettera Humana communitas explicitly recalls the theme of "emerging and converging technologies". The possibility to intervene on living matter to orders of ever smaller size, to process ever larger volumes of information, to monitor - and manipulate - the cerebral processes of cognitive and deliberative activity, has enormous implications: it touches the very threshold of specificity biological and spiritual difference of the human. In this sense, I affirmed that "the difference in human life is an absolute good" (n.4).
FULL TEXT Release from Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation
(Image source Shared from Vatican.va)