Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Christians and non Christians around the world should become mobilised in favour of the right to life, said the Pope. This “fundamental right is at the basis of all rights.” Since “humans living together and even shared political institutions” are based on recognising this fact, he pointed the finger at new and old ways to attack life, namely abortion, euthanasia, population control, eugenics (i.e. the search for the ‘perfect child’ through embryonic manipulation). The Pontiff urged vigilance against the vast manipulation of people’s conscience that is taking place in today’s society and called upon everyone to inform one’s conscience so that it loves truth and what is good.
The Holy Father issued the warning during the audience he gave today to the participants of the 13th general assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life that is being held in the Vatican on the subject of The Christian conscience in support of the right to life.
Christians must take the lead in mobilising themselves in defence of such right, conscious that “by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man” (Gaudium et spes, 22). What is more, they must remember that Christian motivations “have deep roots in natural law” and thus “are shared by all people with an upright conscience.”
In his address Benedict XVI indicted the “means of collective pressure” and the “power of the mighty” which often weaken and seem to “paralyse even the people of good will.”
Abortion, eugenics and civil unions
In an accurate analysis of the world’s situation, the Pontiff noted that attacks against the right to life have multiplied and taken new forms.
“The pressure for the legalisation of abortion in Latin America and developing countries are increasingly strong, including new forms of chemical abortion, on the pretext [that they guarantee] reproductive health,” he said. “More and more policies of demographic control are adopted even though their pernicious social and economic effects have been recognised.”
“At the same time, interest in the most advanced biotechnologies is growing in developed countries. As the means of artificial procreation and various forms of selective diagnostic tools become more available so does the interest in subtler and broader eugenics methods, going as far as the search for the ‘perfect child’. A new wave of eugenic discrimination finds support in the name of individual welfare. And in the economically advanced world laws legalising euthanasia are adopted. All this is happening at a time when there are manifold efforts to legalise relationships that represent alternatives to marriage and that cannot procreate naturally. In these situations, one’s conscience sometimes cannot cope with the existing grave problems because of the means of collective pressure and the power of the mighty weakens and seems even to paralyse people of good will.”
Educating one’s conscience in what is true and to moral
The Pope then focused on the urgent need to instil a love for truth and morality in one’s conscience and to challenge the prevailing relativism. “Forming a conscience that is true, because based on truth, and upright, because it will follow truth’s dictates, without contradictions, betrayals and compromises, is a difficult and delicate task today. But it is something that cannot be avoided. Unfortunately, this task is hindered by various factors. First of all, in the current phase of secularisation that is called post-modern, a phase which is characterised by dubious forms of tolerance, not only is the Christian tradition rejected, but there is also a lack of trust in the power that reason has in perceiving the truth. Indeed, people are less inclined to reflect. There are even some who believe that for one’s individual conscience to be free it must rid itself of all references to traditions or reason. Hence one’s conscience, which is an act by reason that seeks the truth about things, is no longer light but becomes a mere background on which media-based society casts its most contradictory images and impulses.
Given the situation, the Pontiff called on everyone to help revive “the desire to know what authentic truth is, defend one’s own freedom to choose against mass behaviour and propaganda’s flattery, and nourish the passion in moral beauty and clarity of conscience.”
“In the absence of continuing and skilled training, judging problems raised by biomedicine in matters of sexuality, early life, procreation, care of patients and the weakest segments of society becomes an even greater challenge,” the Pope noted.
For him Christian communities, families and parishes must in addition to providing “children and teenagers with a Christian upbringing that teaches them about Christ, His word and the Sacraments, [must also] coherently include [the Church’s] views on moral values about the body, sexuality, human love, procreation, respect for life at all moments as well as take on with good and clear reasoning those behaviours that are contrary to these primary values.”
Praying that there be more “witnesses with a true and upright conscience,” he called for the help of “professionals, philosophers, theologians, scientists and doctors. In a society that is often rowdy and violent, your professional qualifications, teaching and example can enable you to rekindle in many a heart the clear and eloquent voice of one’s conscience.”
Harmony between bishops and the laity
Finally, citing the Second Vatican Council, the Pope called on the laity “to welcome what pastors decide as teachers and leaders of the Church.” Similarly, he called on the pastors to willingly use the “prudent advice” lay people offer and promote them in roles of responsibility.
“When the value of human life is at stake, the harmony between the magisterial function and the laity’s commitment becomes particularly important. Life is the first God-given gift and the foundation of all the others. Guaranteeing everyone the right to life in an equal manner is a duty on whose performance the future of humanity depends.”
At the end of his address, Benedict XVI entrusted the work and results of the assembly “to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, which the Christian tradition greets as the true ‘Mother of all the living’.”