Benedict XVI Encourages Cooperation Among Sciences

Says Man Is Greater Than the Sum of His Genes

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2009 ( Benedict XVI stated that in order to enter into the mystery of human life, all sciences must fight isolation and work together in a common vocation to seek the truth.

The Pope affirmed this Saturday in an address to participants in a conference focused on “New Frontiers of Genetics and the Danger of Eugenics,” sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life. The conference, which began Friday, coincided with the Pontifical Academy for Life’s 15th general assembly.

He recognized the “giant steps” accomplished by genetic science, and its “place of special prominence in the biological disciplines.”

The Pontiff noted the science’s identification of “processes that are linked to the appearance of certain defects that are inheritable from parents along with processes that make some persons more susceptible to contract an illness.”

He added, “This knowledge, the fruit of the genius and toil of countless scholars, make it possible to more easily arrive at not only a more effective and early diagnosis of genetic maladies, but also to create therapies to alleviate the contraction of illnesses and, in some cases, to restore, in the end, the hope of regaining health.”

The Holy Father acknowledged: “The work of researchers in such enigmatic and precious areas requires a special support; the cooperation between different sciences is a support that can never be lacking if results are to be arrived at that are effective and productive of authentic progress for the whole of humanity.

“This complementarity makes it possible to avoid the danger of a genetic reductionism that would identify the person exclusively with his genetic information and his interaction with his environment.

“It is again necessary to emphasize that man is greater than all of that which makes up his body; in fact, he carries with him the power of thought, which is always drawn to the truth about himself and the world.”

Benedict XVI underlined the fact that every human being is more than a “combination of genetic information” and that the generation of man “can never be reduced to the mere reproduction of a new individual of the human species, as is the case with all other animals.”

He added, “Every appearance of a person in the world is always a new creation.”

The Pope affirmed the conference’s analysis of “the dangers of eugenics, which is certainly not a new practice and which in the past has been the cause of real forms of discrimination and violence.”

He continued, “It is necessary to reemphasize that every discrimination exercised by any power in regard to persons, peoples or ethnic groups on the basis of differences that stem from real or presumed genetic factors is an act of violence against all of humanity.”

The Pontiff emphasized the “equal dignity of every human being according to the fact itself of having life.”

“It is necessary,” he said, “to consolidate a culture of hospitality and love that concretely testifies to solidarity with those who suffer, razing the barriers that society often erects, discriminating against those who are disabled and affected by pathologies, or worse — selecting and rejecting in the name of an abstract ideal of health and physical perfection.”

The Holy Father expressed the wish that the research in this field “will continue with due scientific care and the attention that ethical principles require in matters that are so important and decisive for the fitting development of personal existence.”

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