Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Serving, not Manipulating, Humanity

by Pope Saint John Paul II


Pope John Paul condemned human cloning as an arrogant attempt to improve on God's creation. "The sense of power that every technical progress inspires in man is well known," the pope said in a message sent to Bishop Mariano De Nicolo of Rimini, Italy, for the 25th Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, held in that city from August 22 to 28. The annual Meeting was organized by the Communion and Libertation Movement.

Larger Work

L'Osservatore Romano



Publisher & Date

Vatican, September 1, 2004

To the Venerable Brother
Monsignor Mariano de Nicolo,
Bishop of Rimini

1. I am happy to send you, the promoters, and all those participating in the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples my good wishes.

This traditional event, which inspires and enriches the content of the Italian summer, reaches its 25th edition this year. It is a significant goal that is inserted in the context of the celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of "Communion and Liberation," an ecclesial Movement that arose from the priestly zeal of Monsignor Luigi Giussani, two important events that shed light on one another.

The theme chosen for the Meeting offers stimulating motives for reflection on the thorniest questions that are posed dramatically to the man of today. Much light can in fact by shed on them by the awareness that "our progress does not consist in presuming that we have arrived, but in continually tending towards the goal."

Temptation to believe that human work in itself justifies its goals
2. Well noted, in fact, is that "sense of power which today's technical progress inspires in man" ("Gaudium et Spes," No. 20).

Particularly strong, therefore, is the temptation that man's work finds in itself the justification of its own objectives. The results arrived at in several realms of science and technology stem from many considerations and defenses accepted a priori. One thus ends by pretending that that which is technically possible is in itself also ethically good.

According to this opinion, precisely because progress in scientific knowledge and technical means available to man pushes ever further the limits between that which is possible to "do" and that which is still not possible, such progress will also end up by pushing indefinitely the limit between the just and unjust. In such a perspective, progress would become an absolute value, even the source itself of every value. Truth and justice would no longer be superior instances, criteria of justice which man must follow in directing the actions that fuel progress itself, but would become a product of his research activity and manipulation of reality.

No one can fail to see the dramatic and desolating consequences of such pragmatism, which conceives truth and justice as something that can be shaped by the work of man himself. Suffice it to mention as an example among others, man's attempt to appropriate the sources of life through experiments of human cloning. Here is tangible the presumption with which the title of the Meeting is concerned: the violence with which man tries to appropriate the true and just, reducing them to values which he can freely dispose of, namely, not recognizing limits of any kind, except those fixed and continually exceeded by technical operability.

Christ's way: respect the truth and service to humanity
3. The way taught by Christ is another: It is that of respect for the human being, which every method of research must first look at in order to know in his truth, to then serve him, not manipulating him according to a plan considered at times with arrogance as better than that of the Creator himself.

For the Christian the mystery of being is so profound that it is inexhaustible to human research. The man who, instead, in the presumption of Prometheus, sets himself up as arbiter of good and evil, makes of progress his absolute ideal and then is crushed. The century which has just finished, through the ideologies which sadly affected its tragic history and the wars which profoundly marked it, is before the eyes of all to show what was the consequence of such a presumption.

The theme of the Rimini Meeting invites one to look with wonder at the Creator because of the beauty and rationality of that which He has placed and keeps in existence. Only this humility before the grandeur and mystery of creation can save man from the ill-fated consequences of his own arrogance.

It is my heartfelt wish that the Meeting will contribute to foster this attitude of humility before the treasures that the Creator has spread in the universe as reflections of his wisdom, so that the believer can draw from their contemplation ever new reasons of light and comfort in the daily encounter with the questions that arise in life.

To this purpose, I assure a prayerful remembrance and I send to all a special blessing.

From Castel Gandolfo, August 6, 2004

Ioannes Paulus II

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