Safeguarding human dignity in every stage of life

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Intervention by Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia at the conference for the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, organized by the Permanent Mission of the Holy See in Geneva

Geneva, 3 December 2018. - "The poor first": this is the message that Christianity "offers to contemporary culture", underlining the "high sense of the dignity of the human person" from the Council to Pope Francis.

Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia underlined this, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, in his speech on "Safeguarding human dignity in every age of life", held in Geneva on Monday morning as part of the special event organized by the Permanent Mission of the Holy See for the 70th anniversary of Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The event was organized by, among others, in addition to the Permanent Observer and the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Mission of Malta and the Caritas in Veritate Foundation (complete list in: http: //www.nuntiusge .org / index.php)

Archbishop Paglia noted the specific contribution of Christianity that has a contribution to give to the theme of "dignity". Christianity indicates that man is created in the image of God, of a God who in the Gospel "identifies himself with the poor, with the excluded" and today "we can understand how this choice contrasts with a thought that bases dignity on the canons of strength, well-being, and appearance".

Archbishop Paglia noted how the Anglo-Saxon tradition emphasizes the theme of "freedom", and therefore in the current debate "dignity" and "freedom" need a "space for dialogue in the face of the challenges posed by the developments of biotechnology, robotics, of neuroscience”. Dialogue between cultures and traditions, even within the West, helps us to better understand how human rights are articulated today.

At the time of the 1948 Declaration, after the tragedy and the horrors of the Second World War, the context was very clear and evident. Today the context is different and the Church, from the Council to Pope Francis, "indicates that Human Rights must be interpreted in the perspective of those who are most disadvantaged and marginalized". Moreover "the evangelical affirmation 'blessed are the poor' could be translated into ‘the poor first’”.

 Human dignity "must be safeguarded in every stage of life", starting "from the importance of the relational dimension, recognizing the fundamental role played by the encounter with the other to access one's own dignity". A very current topic "in relation to the beings made possible by transplant surgery or genetic or epigenetic interventions or even by the development of convergent technologies". “The Christian - concluded Msgr. Paglia - is called to offer contemporary culture an elevated sense of the dignity of the human person". Christianity "remembers that being an end and not a means is what renders the value of the human person invaluable".

Geneva, 3 December 2018