Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Natural law-- not the state-- affirms human dignity, Pope insists

Catholic World News - February 15, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI met on February 13 with the members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and encouraged them in their discussion of bioethical issues that have "great importance for the culture of future generations."

Bioethical studies, the Pope said, require "guidelines capable of guaranteeing a coherent reading of the ethical questions which inevitably emerge." Properly understood, he said, bioethical studies should "throw light on the dignity of the person." However, the proper perspective requires an appreciation for the natural law, he said, and without that foundation moral reasoning is unreliable: "Without the basic principle of human dignity it would be difficult to find a wellspring for the rights of the person, and impossible to reach ethical judgments about those scientific advances which have a direct effect on human life."

"When we invoke respect for the dignity of the person, it is fundamental that such respect should be complete, total and unimpeded," the Pope continued. Science constantly reveals new possibilities, but each step forward must be weighed with the recognition that human dignity is at stake, and "scientists must never think they are dealing with inanimate and manipulable material."

Pope Benedict stressed that the dignity of the person must be anchored in natural law, which is not subject to change. He noted that "history has shown how dangerous and damaging a state can be when it proceeds to make laws that touch the person and society, while itself claiming to be the source and principle of ethics."

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our July expenses ($17,856 to go):
$35,000.00 $17,144.29
51% 49%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: frjpharrington3912 - Feb. 17, 2010 12:26 AM ET USA

    "The Gulag Archipelago", Alexander Solzhenitsyn's history of Soviet Communism is a frightening account of what happens to a society where the state displaces the natural law. Where the whole concept of "guilt" and "innocence" is non-existent; where women were forced to sign false confessions against their own husbands; where people who told the truth were imprissoned for "anti-Soviet agitation"; where violence, torture and harassment were used to convict people of crimes they did not commit.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Wrongheaded diocesan legal defenses in abuse cases 11 hours ago
New HHS Mandate must truly eliminate complicity July 23
Self-Esteem: Beyond Pop Psychology July 23
Government Crackdowns on God and Nature July 22
A legislative mockery: Massachusetts lawmakers rush to replace unconstitutional 'buffer zone' bill July 22

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Vatican issues working document for Synod of Bishops on the family CWN - June 26
New management, new changes coming for reformed Vatican bank CWN - July 8
Sweeping reforms to Vatican's media, financial operations CWN - July 9
‘Even Genghis Khan didn’t do this’: Mosul emptied of Christians CWN - July 21