Pope Francis releases his prayer intention for the month of March, and asks the faithful to offer a Christian response to challenges presented by bioethical advances.
“Let us pray that we may give a Christian response to bioethical challenges.”
Pope Francis offered that invitation to Catholics in his prayer intention for the month of March.
He noted that science in the field of bioethics has made great advances in recent years, presenting a host of problems.
Christians, said the Pope, must respond to these challenges and not bury “our heads like an ostrich.”
He called for biotechnology to always be used “based on respect for human dignity.”
Careless attitude toward life
Pope Francis gave the example of the careless disposal of human embryos.
“Our throw-away culture is also applied to [human embryos]. No, that can’t be done. Extending this culture in such a way does so much harm.”
He also criticized how the search for profit conditions biomedical research, saying we must realize that profound changes are occurring and discern them well.
Guiding biotechnological advances, not curbing them
The Pope clarified that the Church never seeks to limit technological advances, but rather tries to accompany those advances.
“It’s about protecting both human dignity and progress,” he said. “That is to say, we cannot pay the price of human dignity for progress. Both go together, in harmony.”
Finally, Pope Francis prayed that the world might respect human dignity as it makes technological advances.
“We pray for Christians facing new bioethical challenges,” he urged. “May they continue to defend the dignity of all human life with prayer and action.”
Profound and subtle discernment
A press release accompanying The Pope Video—which is produced by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network—said this month’s prayer intention was created with the help of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
His intention, pointed out the statement, calls for “an even more profound and subtle discernment” regarding bioethics.
Fr. Frédéric Fornos, S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, said the Church always promotes respect for life from conception until natural death.
“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,” said Fr. Fornos. “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.”
Below is a translation of the Pope’s video message
Let us pray that we may give a Christian response to bioethical challenges.
It is evident that science has progressed, and today the field of bioethics presents us with a series of problems to which we must respond, not hiding our head like an ostrich.
Applications of biotechnological must always be used based on respect for human dignity.
For example, human embryos cannot be treated as disposable material, to be discarded. This throw-away culture is also applied to them; no, that can’t be done. Extending that culture this way does so much harm.
Or allowing financial gain to condition biomedical research.
We need to understand the profound changes that are taking place with an even more profound and subtle discernment.
It’s not a matter of curbing technological advances. No, we must accompany them. It’s about protecting both human dignity and progress. That is to say, we cannot pay the price of human dignity for progress, no. Both go together, in harmony.
We pray for Christians facing new bioethical challenges; may they continue to defend the dignity of all human life with prayer and action.
With thanks to Vatican News and Devin Watkins, where this article originally appeared.