Life is not a Universal Abstract

From 5 to 7 October, the General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life is meeting in the Vatican

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Vatican City, October 2 2017 - The Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) “is an organ of the Roman Curia” and in its new structure “the scientific dimension qualifies the discussions, thanks to the presence of scholars with different orientations and from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds but united in the common attention to the primacy of the human person.” Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, highlighted this at the press conference held in the Holy See’s Press Office.

 

Archbishop Paglia met the accredited journalists in the Vatican on 2 October to present the work of the Plenary Assembly of the PAV, which is taking place from 5 to 7 October in the New Synod Hall on the theme “Accompanying life. New responsibilities in the technological era.”

 

Msgr. Paglia situated PAV’s reflection in what he described as “today's anthropological crisis. Humanity has the potential to destroy the planet with atomic weapons; it has the potential to destroy it by plundering the environment and natural resources; today, it also has the potential to destroy through conceptions that hinge on the disappearance of the value of human life.”

 

In this regard, Msgr. Paglia stated that the defense of life and the PAV’s commitment should be understood as “all-around.” “To be in favor of life—or ‘pro-life’ as is said in the US—, for us who belong to the PAV, means rethinking the theme of life itself, starting with its semantic value. We must not reduce the theme to bioethics—neither at the beginning nor at the end of life. Last year, I visited one of the five refugee camps in Uganda, where 550,000 refugees are housed. Being in favor of life implies caring for life and supporting it always and everywhere, be it that of the sick and of refugees or of migrants, and also reflecting on conflicts and trade as well as the arms proliferation. Life is not a universal abstract, and the PAV wants to declinate the term ‘life’ not only in the theoretical content but also in the different historical, geographical, and cultural contexts.”

 

At the press conference, Msgr. Renzo Pegoraro, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life, outlined the themes of Plenary. Discussion will focus on issues related to the initial stages of life and the opportunities and the risks of technology (“creating life or fabricating a living being?” is one question); on the impact of technologies in healthcare (“save or invest in life?,” he said); and, finally, on the dimension of palliative care (“How can care be given when healing is impossible?”).

 

The third speaker, Mrs. Bernardette Tobin, Director of the Plunkett Center for Ethics (Australian Catholic University) stressed the importance of the dialogue between experts of different disciplines on issues related to the initial phases and the final stages of life. “We must always ask—and we will do so at the plenary by listening to first-hand experiences—what the limit is in the use of technology and how we can help people without killing them.”