A “new and universal ethical perspective” based on human life as “absolute good” must urgently be promoted, urges Pope Francis in a message addressed to the Pontifical Academy for Life on the 25th anniversary of its founding, and published January 15 by the Holy See.
For the pope, “fraternity remains the unkept promise of modernity.” Indeed, the current age is characterized by an “inordinate pursuit of self-interest.” There is a “blind pursuit of material pleasure,” founded on the marriage of “indifference to the community” and “arrogance of wealth.”
This gives rise to people being “closed in” on themselves, “demoralized and disoriented,” sinking into “ennui” and “spiritual dejection.” Ultimately, “the many extraordinary resources made available to human beings … could overshadow the joy of fraternal sharing and the beauty of common undertakings” and give birth to “our most bitter divisions and our worst nightmares.”
Faced with this “mistaken path,” the head of the Catholic Church urges, it is urgent to offer a “new and universal ethical perspective” based on human life as an “absolute good.” This good, insists the pope, is “worthy of being ethically defended, precious for the care of creation as a whole.”
To this end, the Church must reject “making timid accommodations to an essentially worldly outlook” and renounce ”ambition for spiritual hegemony over the governance of the secular city” to focus “on the passion and joy of proclaiming God’s love.”
The “passionate theme of our preaching” of the Gospel must therefore be the promise of the “restoration of each of God’s creatures to the joyful hope of his or her spiritual destiny.” “Human minds and hearts,” says the Successor of Peter, “are not completely closed or insensible to the seeds of faith and the works of this universal fraternity.”
Christians must therefore act in such a way that all people are recognized as members of the “human family” which is “a sign of the abundant life of God.” Thus, Pope Francis is calling for a “humanism of the life that bursts forth from God’s passion for human beings.”
Visible signs of God’s work
For the head of the Catholic Church, the Pontifical Academy for Life has a special mission in promoting “a humanism of fraternity solidarity.” It must indeed be “a place for courageous dialogue,” proposing “arguments and formulations that can serve as a basis for intercultural and interreligious, as well as interdisciplinary, exchanges,” in particular through the search for “universally acceptable criteria.”
Faced with developments in science and medicine, the dicastery has an “extremely demanding” task of discernment.
“In this mission,” the Sovereign Pontiff says, “we are encouraged by signs that God is at work in our time.” Among these, he says, are the “efforts to welcome and defend human life, the growing opposition to war and to the death penalty, and a greater concern for the quality of life and ecology.” Likewise, Pope Francis acknowledges the Academy’s “constant effort to promote and protect human life at every stage of its development, its condemnation of abortion and euthanasia as extremely grave evils that contradict the Spirit of life and plunge us into the anti-culture of death.”
The Pontifical Academy for Life was established in 1994 by Pope John Paul II to support “a more structured and organic approach and engagement” in the area of bioethical issues, which are increasingly serious, says Pope Francis.
Every year, it holds a plenary session in February. This year, it will be held from February 25 to 27, on the theme “Roboethics: Humans, machines and health.”