ROME, NOV. 20, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- The dire situation of respect for life makes the essence of “Evangelium Vitae” particularly relevant, say experts who gathered to discuss the encyclical a decade after its publication.
The congress, entitled “The Splendor of Life: Gospel, Science and Ethics: Bioethical Perspectives 10 Years after ‘Evangelium Vitae,'” was organized by the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family and the Pontifical Academy for Life.
On opening the congress last week, Bishop Salvatore Fisichella, rector of Rome’s Lateran University, appealed for a “mobilization for a new culture of life.”
Bishop Fisichella, who is also an auxiliary bishop of Rome, explained that the past 10 years have reflected a special sensitivity for topics proper to life and the family, but at the same time have highlighted a contradictory movement.
He said that on one hand there is an awareness among many intellectuals and thinkers of the inviolable character of human life and, on the other, an “ethical relativism that supports the writing of laws and norms” that asks the state to abstain from any ethical consideration.
Therefore, Bishop Fisichella added, “progress is not always supported by a true promotion of life and of the person.”
Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, added that “the secularized and reductionist anthropology of the last years has tried to separate man from his source of life, losing the sense of God,” which means “also losing the sense of man and his dignity.”
“Man being created in the image and likeness of God, his life acquires value and the sense of being a gift, of being given,” he said.
Sister Elena Borsetti of the Congregation of Jesus the Good Shepherd, a professor of New Testament exegesis at the Gregorian University and the Claretianum, the Institute of Theology of Consecrated Life, said that “God is the source of life” and that man “finds in the creator the hope that gives meaning to his life, to his sufferings and to his death.”
“This hope can be fulfilled only if man obeys the Lord’s commandments as he journeys through life,” she said.
Monsignor Livio Melina, professor of moral theology at the John Paul II Institute of Studies on Marriage and the Family and vice president of the central section of the Lateran University, said that the great challenge now is “to surmount the scientific spirit of reductionism vis-à-vis the topic of life.”
In this connection, he stressed the dialogue between faith and reason. “Scientific rationalism must allow itself to be guided by a contemplative and even metaphysical view of life,” he said.
Amnon Carmi, director of the Bioethics Chair of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and president of the Psychiatry, Law and Ethics Section of the World Psychiatry Association, explained that, in the Jewish view, “the sacredness of human life derives from the fact that man is created in the image of God.”
Because of this, concluded the Jewish magistrate, “any offense to the body of any person is an aggression against his divine aspect and, therefore, an affront to the Almighty.”