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Dear Friends,
I take a break from the reflections of Pope Francis at his General Audience to offer this two-part presentation of a talk he gave to the General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life. The talk was given on June 25 and will take this space today and next Sunday.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to offer you my greetings...

The wisdom that must inspire your approach to “human ecology” demands a consideration of the ethical and spiritual quality of life at each of its phases. Think of human life at its conception, human life growing in the womb, life newly born, life as a child, a teenager, an adult… Think of life that has grown old and is ready to pass away – and eternal life! Life that is family and community, life that prays and hopes. Life that is frail and sick, wounded, insulted, humiliated, marginalized and cast aside. All this is human life, the life of human persons who live on God’s earth and share our common home with every living creature. In our life-science laboratories, we study life with instruments that enable us to explore life’s physical, chemical and mechanical aspects. This activity is important and cannot be neglected but it needs to be part of a broader and deeper perspective, one that concentrates specifically on human life – the life that entered this world with the miracle of speech and thought, affections and spirit. Today, it is fair to ask what attention the human wisdom of life receives from the natural sciences. What political culture inspires us to nurture and protect real human life? Life’s finest work is giving birth to new persons, fostering their spiritual and creative qualities, introducing them into the love found in the family and the community, caring for weakness and hurt… to say nothing of initiating them into the life of God’s children, in Jesus Christ.

When we give children over to poverty, the poor to hunger, the persecuted to war, and the elderly to abandonment, do we not ourselves do the “dirty work” of death? Where does this dirty work of death come from? It comes from sin. Evil tries to convince us that death is the end of everything, that we have come into this world by chance and that our fate is to end up in nothingness. If we exclude “the other” from our thinking, our lives become self-centered and a mere consumer commodity. Narcissus, who in ancient mythology loved only himself and ignored the good of others, is foolish but does not realize it. In a way, he is the source of that contagious spiritual virus that turns us into reflections in a mirror who sees ourselves alone and nothing else. We become blind to life and its power – to life as a gift received from others, a gift that in turn must be passed on responsibly.

The global vision of bioethics that you have drawn from the Christian vision and are preparing to re-propose in the field of social ethics and worldwide humanism will strive with greater commitment and rigour to break free from complicity with the dirty work of death that draws its strength from sin. It will be able to bring us back to the covenant with the grace that God has destined to be part of our lives. This bioethics will not begin with a consideration of sickness and death in order to reach an understanding of the meaning of life and the worth of the individual. Rather, it will begin with a profound belief in the irrevocable dignity of the human person, as loved by God – the dignity of each person, in every phase and condition of existence – as it seeks out those forms of love and care that are concerned for the vulnerability and frailty of each individual.

First of all, then, your global bioethics will be a specific way to develop the vision of integral ecology set forth in my Encyclical Laudato Si, in which I pointed to the following areas of concern: “the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected, the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology, the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value proper to each creature, the human meaning of ecology, the need for forthright and honest debate; the serious responsibility of international and local policy, the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle.” (Laudato Si, 16).
- Pope Francis.

God Bless,
Fr. Ron

Part II next week.

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Click Here for the Video in English and Spanish

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