Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Human life "must be protected from the womb to the tomb," said Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Doctrinal Commission, in a speech read by one of his priests at a national conference titled 'Protecting, Preserving and Promoting the Gift of Human Life: Emerging Challenges'.
For the prelate, who is currently in Rome for the Synod, "secularisation, individualism and consumerism have together had a negative impact on the lives of many people, leading to a loss of the sense of sin, and even of the divine. We have to find constructive solutions to awaken people and reinstall in their hearts the love for Jesus Christ and His message. It is sad to see that many people today think they do not need God in their lives."
The Doctrinal Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India organised the conference in collaboration with the FIAM Bio-medical Centre and the Diocesan Commission for human life in Mumbai, 17-19 October.
About 600 delegates, priests, religious and professionals gathered at St Pius X College to analyse and discuss threats to life in modern society, especially in light of the Synod on the family that has just ended in the Vatican.
"The threats to human life abound in the contemporary world," the text said. "For example, we are witnesses to a push for euthanasia, masked by the concept of 'dying with dignity', and practices such as in vitro fertilisation, surrogate motherhood and much more. Many Catholics are not even aware of the Church's teachings on these matters."
"This is my first visit to India, and I must say that life is a gift that is respected a lot here," said Fr Eberhard Schockenhoff, professor of moral theology at the University of Freiburg, who delivered the main address.
Speaking to AsiaNews, he pointed out, "The traditional family has deep roots, and the Indian population has a great love for life. This is certainly positive. But because of the country's rapid industrialisation, which is necessary for progress and development, future generations in India will have to face the same challenges to the family that already exist in the West."
For his part, Card Gracias noted that in the era of secularism and technology, "the challenge for contemporary medicine is to provide patients with treatments that are first and foremost respectful of the human person. Each human being was created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore life is invaluable. Each of us received at the moment of creation a sublime dignity, based on the intimate bond with our Creator. In each of us a reflection of God shines."
For this reason, "all those who are involved in the field of medicine and scientific research are called to show love, care, compassion, understanding and concern for those who are entrusted to them. Each patient should be treated in a humane manner. Health care must be humanised so as to a civilisation of love and life without which the life of individuals and society loses most of its human qualities."