How should we respond to the advances of bioethics? Pope Francis responds with a call to defend life.
- The new Pope Video is dedicated to the challenges of bioethics and how to respond to them based on human dignity and the defense of life.
- Aware of the profound changes in the world caused by the advances of bioethics, the Pope invites us to advance with them without contributing to the throw-away culture and while seeking biotechnological applications that are responsible and respectful towards the human person and the environment.
- Francis calls all Christians not to “hide our head like an ostrich” and to promote the defense of life.
(Vatican City, March 1, 2022) – The Pope Video for March has just been released with the prayer intention that Francis is entrusting to the entire Catholic Church through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. This month, the Holy Father addresses the new challenges that bioethics presents to the world today and, in the light of them, calls us to “continue to defend the dignity of all human life with prayer and action.” The video has been made with the collaboration of The Pontifical Academy for Life.
How should we think about bioethics from a Christian perspective?
No one can deny the progress that bioethics has shown in recent decades. This relatively new discipline is dedicated, among other things, to orienting and reflecting on problematic situations that include financial, social, ecological, ethical, biomedical, and biotechnological issues. In the prayer intention for March, the Holy Father encourages us not to curb the advances of bioethics nor to hide ourselves from its fields of action and investigation.
There are essentially two risks for Christians that Pope Francis highlights in this video. The first is to see technological progress as an enemy, and therefore, to oppose it in every way and try to “curb” it. The second risk is to suffer it passively, pretending that nothing is happening and ending up “hiding our head like an ostrich” when “respect for human dignity” is put into doubt. There is only one solution: “an even more profound and subtle discernment,” so as to accompany technological progress in its path of service to humanity.
This approach involves a recurring commitment by the Pope to avoid a throw-away culture, as in the example of frozen embryos that are dismissed as “disposable material.” It also means not subordinating bioethical studies and applications to “financial gain,” since “we cannot pay the price of human dignity for progress.”
For this reason, Francis asks Christians to promote the defense of life through prayer—which continues to be the central focus of the intentions proposed each month by the Pontiff and promulgated by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network through The Pope Video and the Click To Pray app—but also through social action. Indeed, Christians have the duty of participating in public debate, making their voice heard with language and arguments that are appropriate and understandable in the current social context—as the Holy Father recently called to mind addressing the Pontifical Academy for Life—but without watering down the contents, and always reiterating the need for integral human development.
Fr. Frédéric Fornos, S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, commented on this intention: “Pope Francis always insists on the need for greater discernment regarding the challenges of bioethics, on the need to respect human life and in no way seek one’s own interests following the logic of the market, which knows no limits. These are necessary criteria for discernment which help us to leave behind a throw-away culture and which promote integral respect for human life—the entire extent of human life, from birth to death. Let us pray that, in the face of the new challenges of bioethics, we may always promote the defense of life through prayer and social action.”