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The attitude of the church towards genetic engineering

Box 132, Manila, Philippines In the beginning God gave mankind the gift of intelligence to be used, among other things, to collaborate with him in caring for creation. Today this collaboration with the creator is also evident in the advances of science and technology. The Church has always valued such progress, but has likewise made the necessary precautions so as not to lose sight of the true context in which it is situated. Thus, after noting that?

Science and technology are ordered to man, from whom they take their origin and development; hence they find in the person and in his moral values both evidence of their the attitude of the church towards genetic engineering and awareness of their limits?

The quest for knowledge and dominion always brings with it certain ethical questions. For indeed, while technology merely asks,? The answer to the latter can only be in the affirmative if what is being contemplated is truly for the good of the human person.

A concrete case that needs examination is genetic engineering applied to agricultural products. Along with the noble desire to combat hunger, poverty and disease in developing and applying such technology, scientists have the task of protecting the rest of creation from all possible harms that ensue.

In fact, concerns have already been raised that certain experiments and marketing strategies may have detrimental effects on different areas of human existence, such as health and safety, environment and biodiversity, culture, consumers rights, and proper distribution of food and earnings.

Genetic engineering is acceptable only if all risks are minimized. Otherwise, one may easily succumb to temptations of productivity and profit at the expense of the people and the environment. And as long as foreseeable dangers are not fully identified, studied and avoided, safe alternative procedures should be used, or if none, testing and development of the technology should be delayed altogether.

May the Lord of the harvest bless us with an abundant yield, and may our Creator continue to guide our intelligence. May the advancement of science and technology be always a true collaboration with God? Villa San Miguel, 8th day of May 2001. Speaking before an estimated 50,000 farmers from Italy and elsewhere at a special outdoor mass for farmers, Pope John Paul II was cited as saying on November last year that using GMO to increase farm production was contrary to God's will.

The influential archbishop of Manila was quoted as saying, "As long as foreseeable dangers are not fully identified, studied and avoided, safe alternative procedures should be used. I f none, testing and development of the technology should be delayed altogether. Sin was further quoted as saying, "certain experiments and marketing strategies may have detrimental effects on different areas of human existence, such as health and safety, environment and biodiversity, culture, consumers rights and proper distribution of food and earnings.

I am pleased to be able to meet you on the occasion of the Jubilee of the Agricultural World, for this moment of celebration and reflection on the present state of this important sector of life and the economy, as well as on the ethical and social perspectives that concern it. I thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, for his kind words expressing the sentiments and expectations of all those present. I respectfully greet the dignitaries, including those of different religious backgrounds who are representing various organizations and are present this evening to offer us the contribution of their testimony.

The Jubilee of farmers coincides with the traditional "Thanksgiving Day" promoted in Italy by the praiseworthy Confederation of Farmers, to whom I extend my most cordial greetings. This "Day" makes a strong appeal to the perennial values cherished by the agricultural world, particularly to the attitude of the church towards genetic engineering marked religious sense. To give thanks is to glorify God who created the land and its produce, to God who saw that it was "good" Gn 1: Dear men and women of the agricultural world, you are entrusted with the task of making the earth fruitful.

A most important task, whose urgent need today is becoming ever more apparent. The area where you work is usually called the "primary sector" by economic science. On the world economic scene, your sector varies considerably, in comparison to others, according to continent and nation.

But whatever the cost in economic terms, plain good sense is enough to highlight its real "primacy" with respect to vital human needs.

The attitude of the church towards genetic engineering

When this sector is underappreciated or mistreated, the consequences for life, health and ecological balance are always serious and usually difficult to remedy, at least in the short term. The Church has always had special regard for this area of work, which has also been expressed in important magisterial documents. How could we forget, in this respect, Bl.

At the time he put his "finger on the wound", so to speak, denouncing the problems that were unfortunately making agriculture a "depressed sector" in those years, regarding both "labour productivity" and "the standard of living of farm populations" cf.

In the time between Mater et Magistra and our day, it certainly cannot be said that these problems have been solved. Rather it should be noted that there are others in addition, in the framework of new problems stemming from the globalization of the economy and the worsening of the "ecological question". The Church obviously has no "technical" solutions to offer. Her contribution is at the level of Gospel witness and is expressed in proposing the spiritual values that give meaning to life and guidance for practical decisions, including at the level of work and the economy.

The attitude of the church towards genetic engineering

Without doubt, the most important value at stake when we look at the earth and at those who work is the principle that brings the earth back to her Creator: It must therefore be treated according to his law.

If, with regard to natural resources, especially under the pressure of industrialization, an irresponsible culture of "dominion" has been reinforced with devastating ecological consequences, this certainly does not correspond to God's plan.

These famous words of Genesis entrust the earth to man's use, not abuse. They do not make man the absolute arbiter of the earth's governance, but the Creator's "co-worker": This is a principle to be remembered in agricultural production itself, whenever there is a question of its advance through the application of biotechnologies, which cannot be evaluated solely on the basis of immediate economic interests.

They must be submitted beforehand to rigorous scientific and ethical examination, to prevent them from becoming disastrous for human health and the future of the earth. The fact that the earth belongs constitutively to God is also the basis of the principle, so dear to the Church's social teaching, of the universal destination of the earth's goods cf. What God has given man, he has given with the heart of a father who cares for his children, no one excluded.

  1. Even after careful reflection has been given, not everything will be crystal clear; there will still be gray areas. Would it ever be needed?
  2. There is an urgent need to develop this sense within the research community - where ethical acuteness does not often match the technical skills, and where constant pressures for recognition or promotion, the need to maintain funding, and simply becoming immersed in research for its own sake, can lead to unthinking science. Proverbs refers to certain activities regarding restoring the health of an individual Proverbs 12.
  3. I f none, testing and development of the technology should be delayed altogether. What would be improper in terms of our human dignity?

God's earth is therefore also man's earth and that of all mankind! This certainly does not imply the illegitimacy of the right to property, but demands a conception of it and its consequent regulation which will safeguard and further its intrinsic "social function" cf. Mater et Magistra, n. Every person, every people, has the right to live off the fruits of the earth. At the beginning of the new millennium, it is an intolerable scandal that so many people are still reduced to hunger and live in conditions unworthy of man.

We can no longer limit ourselves to academic reflections: L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 1 The attitude of the church towards genetic engineering 2000, p.

As is widely known, this situation has a variety of causes. Among the most absurd are the frequent conflicts within States, which are often true wars of the poor.

And there remains the burdensome legacy of an often unjust distribution of wealth in individual nations and at the world level. This is an aspect which the celebration of the Jubilee brings precisely to our special attention.

For the original institution of the Jubilee, as it is formulated in the Bible, was aimed at re-establishing equality among the children of Israel also by restoring property, so that the poorest people could pick themselves up again and everyone could experience, including at the level of a dignified life, the joy of belonging to the one people of God.

Our Jubilee, 2,000 years after Christ's birth, must also bear this sign of universal brotherhood. It represents a message that is addressed not only to believers, but to all people of good will, so that they will be resolved, in their economic decisions, to abandon the logic of sheer advantage and combine legitimate "profit" with the value and practice of solidarity.

As I have said on other occasions, we need a globalization of solidarity, which in turn presupposes a "culture of solidarity" that must flourish in every heart. Thus, while we never cease to urge the public authorities, the great economic powers and the most influential institutions to move in this direction, we must be convinced that there is a "conversion" that involves us all personally.

We must start with ourselves. For this reason, in the Encyclical Centesimus annus, along with the discussions of the ecological question, I pointed to the urgent need for a "human ecology".

This concept is meant to recall that "not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given to him, but man too is God's gift to man.

The Christian and Genetic Engineering

He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed" Centesimus annus, n. If man loses his sense of life and the security of moral standards, wandering aimlessly in the fog of indifferentism, no policy will be effective for safeguarding both the concerns of nature and those of society.

Indeed, it is man who can build or destroy, respect or despise, share or reject. The great problems posed by the agricultural sector, in which you are directly involved, should be faced not only as "technical" or "political" problems, but at their root as "moral problems". It is therefore the inescapable responsibility of those who work with the name of Christians to give a credible witness in this area.

Unfortunately, in the countries of the so-called "developed" world an irrational consumerism is spreading, a sort of "culture of waste", which is becoming a widespread lifestyle. This tendency must be opposed. To teach a use of goods which never forgets either the limits of available resources or the poverty of so many human beings, and which consequently tempers one's lifestyle with the duty of fraternal sharing, is a true pedagogical challenge and a very far-sighted decision.

In this task, the world of those who work the land with its tradition the attitude of the church towards genetic engineering moderation and heritage of wisdom accumulated amid much suffering, can make an incomparable contribution. I am therefore very grateful for this "Jubilee" witness, which holds up the great values of the agricultural world to the attention of the whole Christian community and all society.

Follow in the footsteps of your best tradition, opening yourselves to all the developments of the technological era, but jealously safeguarding the perennial values that characterize you.

This is also the way to give a hope-filled future to the world of agriculture. A hope that is based on God's work, of which the Psalmist sings: As I implore this visit from God, source of prosperity and peace for the countless families who work in the rural world, I would like to impart an Apostolic Blessing to everyone at the end of this meeting. Before leaving the Pope said to those present: I would like to thank you for this lovely evening, for the invitation and for the beautiful link between the rural, agricultural world and modern music.

Thanks to everyone for the participation of representatives from all the countries; this is the way that the whole universal Church lives and celebrates the Jubilee. I wish you a good rest.

Tomorrow another great celebration awaits you. Let us hope for good weather. One can remove bits and pieces from the Pope's speeches in order to support his own views. IMHO, the Pope made statements that neither condemned nor blessed biotechnology, statements that are balanced.

Moral and Ethical Issues in Gene Therapy

Much more stress was put on the need to oppose the culture of waste. I cite again from 11-11-00 address: Look at the speeches from the official site and do not be fooled: Both scientists and ethicians alike are trying to agree on the limits and use of this new emerging field.

At present, there is a clash between those who have denounced the encouragement of alarmist views, devoid of scientific basis and, those who stress the enormous advantages that can be gleaned from a proper use of biotechnology. To date, the Church has not pronounced itself explicitly on this matter. Believers and non-believers ask a very serious question: To answer this question, the Pontifical Academy for Life, an institution created by John Paul II himself in 1994, has published two volumes, one on the human genome and another on biotechnology - both presented this morning to the international press.

The 600 experiments of genetic engineering that are currently underway on illnesses such as AIDS, cancer, monogenetic and enzymatic sicknesses, to date have not given definitive results, as they have not succeeded in curing the dysfunction of some genes that cause the sicknesses.