Not Everything That Is Possible Is Acceptable, Warns Pope

In Message to a Meeting in Rimini

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 23, 2004 ( To pretend that «what is technically possible is in itself also ethically good» leads to a pragmatism of «dramatic and desolating consequences,» such as human cloning, warns John Paul II.

The Pope made that point in a message sent to the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, promoted by the Church movement Communion and Liberation. The meeting opened Sunday in Rimini, Italy. A similar weeklong meeting last year attracted 700,000 people.

«Well known, in fact, is that ‘sense of power which today’s technical progress’ inspires in man, the temptation that man’s work find in itself the justification of its own objectives … [being] particularly strong,» the Holy Father said in the text published by the Vatican press office.

«The results arrived at in several realms of science and technology stem from many considerations and defenses accepted a priori,» the Pope said. «One thus ends by pretending that what is technically possible is in itself also ethically good.»

«According to this opinion, precisely because progress in scientific knowledge and technical means available to man pushes ever further the limits between what is possible to ‘do’ and what is still not possible, such progress will also end up by pushing indefinitely the limit between the just and unjust,» the Holy Father continued.

«In such a perspective, progress would become an absolute value, even the source itself of every value. Truth and justice would no longer be superior instances, criteria of justice which man must follow in directing the actions that fuel progress itself, but would become a product of his research activity and manipulation of reality,» the Pope warned.

«No one can fail to see the dramatic and desolating consequences of such pragmatism, which conceives truth and justice as something that can be shaped by the work of man himself,» he stressed.

An example of this, the Holy Father said, is «man’s attempt to appropriate the sources of life through experiments of human cloning.»

The theme of the Rimini meeting is «Our progress does not consist in presuming that we have arrived, but in tending continually toward the goal.»

The Pope said: «Here is tangible the presumption with which the title of the meeting is concerned: the violence with which man tries to appropriate the true and just, reducing them to values which he can freely dispose of, namely, not recognizing limits of any kind, except those fixed and continually exceeded by technical operability.»

However, the «way taught by Christ is another: It is that of respect for the human being, which every method of research must first look at in order to know him in his truth, to then serve him, not manipulating him according to a plan considered at times with arrogance as better than that of the Creator himself,» John Paul II emphasized.

In fact, man, who «in the presumption of Prometheus, sets himself up as arbiter of good and evil, makes of progress his absolute ideal and is then crushed by it,» he noted.

In this connection, the theme of the Rimini meeting «invites one to look with wonder at the Creator because of the beauty and rationality of that which He has placed and keeps in existence. Only this humility before the grandeur and mystery of creation can save man from the ill-fated consequences of his own arrogance,» the Pope concluded.

The Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples ends Saturday.

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