Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Human Dignity is inalienable: Pope Benedict XVI address to Pontifical Academy for Life

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday addressed members of the Pontifical Academy for Life during their 2010 General Assembly on the topic of "Bioethics and Natural Law” Zenit.org and CNA Reports

Pope Benedict asserted that human dignity must be protected as an "inalienable right" and that ethical decisions cannot be left solely to the State, which is subject to "relativistic drift."

When we speak of bioethics, said the Pope, the "dignity of the person" is often put at the forefront of the discussion. This is "a fundamental principle that the faith in Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen, has always defended, especially when it is disregarded towards the simplest and most vulnerable subjects."

Benedict XVI called the right to recognition of human dignity "inalienable" and added that its establishment is not "written by the hand of man, but... by God the Creator in the heart of man."

"Without the founding principle of human dignity it would be arduous to find a source for the rights of the person and impossible to reach an ethical judgment as to the achievements of science that intervene directly in human life."

The Pope pointed out that "joining bioethics and natural moral law permits the best confirmation of the necessary and unavoidable reminder of the dignity that human life intrinsically possesses from its first instant to its natural end."
He underlined the task of ensuring "that human life always be seen as the inalienable subject of rights and never as an object subjugated to the will of the strongest."

"History has shown us how dangerous and deleterious a state can be that proceeds to legislate on questions that touch the person and society while pretending itself to be the source and principle of ethics," the Pontiff warned.
He explained, "Without universal principles that permit a common denominator for the whole of humanity the danger of a relativistic drift at the legislative level is not at all something should be underestimated."

"The natural moral law," the Holy Father affirmed, "strong in its universal character, allows us to avert such a danger and above all offers to the legislator the guarantee for an authentic respect of both the person and the entire created order."

He insisted that it is of upmost importance that the comprehension of human dignity not be considered as strictly tied to "external elements" such as scientific progress or the "gradualness" of the formation of human life. Rather, the invocation of dignity must be "full, total and without strings, besides that of recognizing that we are always before a human life."