VATICAN CITY, JULY 19, 2004 (Zenit.org).- What is the border that scientific research on the human being may not cross?
“The border is the ‘being,’ the essence of man,” replies Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. “There must be respect for the being of the child, the being of the mother, the being of the father.”
In an article published by the Vatican agency Fides, Bishop Sgreccia answered questions posed by Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, a retired professor of medicine and medical ethics, during a television program broadcast in Italy.
“Will we be dominated by a new race built in a laboratory?” Pellegrino asked. “Who will be the father and mother? I? You? And tomorrow, who will be our parents?”
Bishop Sgreccia recalled that the “advent of the Neolithic era in the history of humanity led man out of the caves and set him to conquer the world.”
“Man became a shepherd and a farmer,” the bishop said. “He learned to work metal and build towns, he invented the wheel, starting the acceleration of movement and time; he invented trade by land and sea, making use of money, he made great civilizations flourish in the Far East, in Asia and in Latin America.”
“After the farming era, there came the industrial era which gave man more dominion over cosmic nature with the invention of the engine, from the steam engine to supersonic aircraft. Towns first populated with farmers were surrounded with industries,” the bishop explained.
He continued: “At the height of this era, there was the discovery of nuclear power and man took possession of this new energy innate to matter. The risks run on this long journey are known because the invention of writing during the pastoral and farming era made it possible to set memories on stone, parchment, paper and press.
“But a red furrow of wars and massacres ever more atrocious accompanied man’s steps into secrets of the cosmos, because the dominion of the cosmos has not always respected the dignity of the human being.”
“Now, with biological technology, we have man’s dominion over life, its secrets, its origin, even there where the life of a new being starts its organic path with conception in the meeting of love between mother and father,” Bishop Sgreccia said.
“Where is the border for man to remain human and the principle of humanity to remain integral …?” the prelate asked.
“The border is the ‘being,’ the essence of man; please God they will not meddle with the being!” he stressed.
“The threat exists and it is up to our age to warn about the danger and prevent it. Being a child means being a gift of God’s love through the love of the parents,” Bishop Sgreccia said. “The generation of a child implies to be truly human, that the wife becomes a mother through the gift of self to her husband and the husband becomes a father through the gift of self to his wife.”
“The intervention of technological reproduction threatens the being of the person and is, in the words of a philosopher, an act which ‘un-creates,'” the bishop warned.
“Human freedom, separated from responsibility for the human being and human nature, becomes ‘titanism’ and a manifestation of excessive power,” he said.
Bishop Sgreccia concluded: “This biotechnological era must be reminded of the horizon of moral respect for nature and the human being, and that the goal of science and technology is to offer support and assistance to the human being in each and every man and woman.”