By Antonio Gaspari
ROME, NOV. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- There is an urgency today to educate society in the culture of life, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told a gathering of Italian physicians.
Benedict XVI’s secretary of state said this last week during a homily he gave to members of the National Council of Italian Catholic Medical Associations, held in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.
Addressing the challenges of modernity, the cardinal noted that “medicine itself, which by its nature should tend to the defense and care of human life, in some of its sectors lends itself increasingly to carry out acts against the person.”
The secretary of state affirmed an “urgency to educate in the culture of life.”
“Witnessed on one hand is the elimination of nascent human lives or those that are close to their end; on the other, it is increasingly difficult for conscience to distinguish good from evil in what affects the very fundamental value of human life,” he explained.
Cardinal Bertone reminded his listeners that “the activity of the Catholic doctor is revealed useful not only for the purpose of physical health, but also, in a certain sense, for the moral and spiritual health of the patient.”
This is true, he said, because “body and spirit are so united in man that one influences the other, and your main task is to watch over and promote life in its integral realization.”
Referring to the encyclical “Caritas in Veritate,” the secretary of state criticized the material and mechanical concept of human life,” which reduces love without truth to “an empty shell to be filled arbitrarily” and can entail negative effects for integral human development.
According to the cardinal, to educate in the culture of life it is necessary “to be able to contemplate in every human being the reflection of the beauty and love of God.”
“Without God, man no longer perceives himself as ‘mysteriously other’ in relation to the various earthly creatures, and is considered as one of many living beings, as an organism that, at best, has reached a very high level of perfection,” he said.
Referring to the encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” of John Paul II, Cardinal Bertone pointed out that it is “precisely in the distance between God and man” where “the motive is found that leads to losing the value of human life with the consequent presumption of being able to manage it, ignoring the Creator.”
In this context, the secretary of state denounced abortion and deaths due to hunger: “There are lives that aren’t news and whose loss does not cause shock.
“There are sacrosanct battles to save the life of those sentenced to death and also to safeguard the right to life of those who have committed serious crimes, while the death of innocents is considered legal and just, with laws approved by majorities in civil Parliaments.”
“Emotion, ideologies, and political reasons,” he added, “substitute in practice the correctly illumined conscience.”