On September 14th, the Church celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the encyclical “Fides and Ratio” of Saint John Paul II.
St. John Paul II invites all men, mainly women and men of thought, to the audacious and rigorous exercise of the constitutive reason of their being, beyond their differences; in order to reach the truth.
He insists on the nobility and the decisive importance of what he indifferently calls “reason”, “philosophical reason”, “right reason”, or “philosophical-religious reason” common to all human beings.
Society is changing. It is not a time of change, these are actually changing times.
Techno-sciences are pervading all fields, including medicine, and are particularly affecting three main medical approaches: chemical and digital interventions on brain functions, genome modifications, as well as the use of robots.
If techno-scientific progress is to be encouraged, domination must be regulated. It in fact induces the transhumanist ideology whose challenging character lies in the anthropological rupture that it entails.
During the General Assembly of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, held in Zagreb on 1st June, during the 25th FIAMC Congress, Prof. Dr. Bernard Ars, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed President.
As the fiftieth anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae draws near, I have thought it useful to draw some reflections on the document. I have a vision of that great text as if resting upon three great pillars.
The first pillar treats human life as a great gift from God. Can anyone create himself (a self-made man?)? Indeed, can anyone maintain himself in being? Or create beauty and life from nothing?
A substantial and non-incidental part of the gift of life is the possibility of procreating, of collaborating in the work of Creation. The physiological bases of human procreation are well known, and an essential part of them are woman’s rhythms of fertility–non-fertility. Those rhythms, which can be perfectly known, form part of women’s health. They are there for some reason. I would say that they form a substantial part of the human being. To alter them is to alter the substance of man. It is to head for post- or trans-humanism. The finite and imperfect human seeking to amend the unfathomable divine Wisdom.
Woman’s ovulation rhythms form part of the divine gift of life and cannot be altered. God has reserved for himself the design of the human being. It is true that we collaborate towards the conservation and development of Creation (¨Look after the garden, and fill the Earth!”). There are many very diverse and interesting things that we humans can do with ourselves, with nature or with society. We dress ourselves, build, develop thought and science to surprising limits, such as interconnectivity, space travel or the knowledge of our genetic language. We can boost our natural gifts to such limits as it is difficult to imagine. We doctors should and must help couples by repairing what is ill in the event of sickness or disorders. However, we CANNOT change human essence. Neither fertility nor children are an illness.
The second pillar rests on the great gift of sexuality by which the spouses help one another, complement each other and grow together (“it is not good for man to be alone”).
The gift of children adds fecundity to the fecundity of a healthy carnal love. And there is indeed a healthy carnal love and a devious one. We all see it in our interior and exterior. It is the fallout of the great fall.
The third pillar seeks to indicate to the human being where the Creator’s criterion heads for and where not.
Married love helps spouses to overcome concupiscence or the shady area of the sexuality of the fallen man. This shady area threatens even governments, influencers and other organisations seeking to twist a nuclear aspect of the created human being.
I sincerely believe, as did Catalan Blessed Dr Pere Tarrés, that each and everyone of us should seek/ask for the gift of purity, which pleases God so much and so much peace offers to the resting human. Without this repairing gift it is impossible to fight against sexual abuse to children, or the trafficking especially in women, or the plague of pornography or the abuse of one human over another in all orders of life. Blessed Paul VI had a clear vision of this and was courageous to the end exposing the divine-natural truth.
On February 11, 1985, Pope St. John Paul II founded the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers. Inspired by faith and hope, he intended to offer a response to the challenges arising in the world of health care. In 1994, the first president of the dicastery, the late Fiorenzo Cardinal Angelini, published the Charter for Health Care Workers, translated into nineteen languages. Following upon new advances in the scientific and biomedical field as well as magisterial pronouncements during the pontificates of Popes St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis, the dicastery considered it necessary to revise and update this document while keeping its original structure, focused on the calling of health care workers to be ministers of life.
As a general rule, bioethical debates deal with the questions raised by scientific-technical breakthroughs in the field of research and biomedical practice. The swiftness with which these advances take place calls into question whether moral philosophy —and in particular theological ethics— can provide answers to the new questions raised, or whether it should capitulate to strategic ethics.