No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis, Jane Goodall speak on ‘what it means to be human’ at Vatican health conference

May 8, 2021 Catholic News Agency 8
Pope Francis greets a child in St. Peter’s Square during the general audience on April 20, 2016. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, May 8, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis and Jane Goodall both offered perspectives on “what it means to be human” on the final day of an online Vatican health conference on Saturday.

In a video message to the virtual conference on May 8, the pope said that Saint Augustine’s words in “The Confessions” are timeless: “Man is himself a great deep.”

“The Scriptures, and philosophical and theological reflection in particular, have employed the concept of ‘soul’ to define our uniqueness as human beings and the specificity of the person, which is irreducible to any other living being and includes our openness to a supernatural dimension and thus to God,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said that “this openness to the transcendent” is fundamental and “bears witness to the infinite value of every human person.”

Anthropologist Jane Goodall, famed for her work with chimpanzees, also spoke at the Vatican conference on “mind, body, and soul,” giving a talk entitled “What does it Mean to be Human?”

“I think where we fit in into the picture of primates is we are the fifth great ape, and our closest relative among the other great apes… Well, there’s two of them, actually, the chimpanzee and the bonobo. We differ from each other genetically by only just over 1%,” Goodall said.

She offered examples of how chimpanzees can be taught sign language, use the computer, and make drawings. During evolution, she said, humans learned to communicate with words, language, and writing that enables people to be distinguished by their ability to make plans for the future and invent rockets.

“But then when you realize how like us chimpanzees are, and yet how we differ with this explosive development of the intellect, this development of the intellect has not given us a reason to label ourselves as Homo sapiens, the wise ape. We’re not wise. We’ve seen what Mars looks like. We don’t want to live there. We’ve only got this one planet, at least in our lifetimes, and we’re destroying it,” Goodall said.

“All the major religions share the golden rule, do to others as you would have them do to you. If we can apply that to animals, as well as to each other, then I think we shall be coming closer to being able to define ourselves as Homo sapiens,” she added.

The Vatican health conference taking place May 6-8 on “Exploring the Mind, Body & Soul: How Innovation and Novel Delivery Systems Improve Human Health,” has featured more than 100 speakers including Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, as well as Clinton Foundation vice chair Chelsea Clinton and New Age guru Deepak Chopra.

It is the fifth conference of its kind organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Cura Foundation, which describes itself as a “nonsectarian, nonpartisan” group “with a mission to improve human health globally.” This year is the first time that the conference is taking place virtually.

“I am pleased that students from various universities throughout the world, Catholic and non-Catholic, are taking part in this event. I encourage you to undertake and pursue interdisciplinary research involving various centers of study, for the sake of a better understanding of ourselves and of our human nature, with all its limits and possibilities, while always keeping in mind the transcendent horizon to which our being tends,” Pope Francis said.

The pope said that when interdisciplinary research is applied to the medical sciences it “translates into more sophisticated research and increasingly suitable and exact strategies of care.”

“We need but think of the vast field of research in genetics, aimed at curing a variety of diseases. Yet this progress has also raised a number of anthropological and ethical issues, such as those dealing with the manipulation of the human genome aimed at controlling or even overcoming the aging process, or at achieving human enhancement,” he said.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin also addressed the conference via video message on May 8.

The cardinal said that human beings are distinguished from animals by rationality, “a high degree of self-understanding” and reflection on others and the universe.

“Another unique feature is the moral conscience that allows us to act by distinguishing between what is good and what is bad. This fundamental reference causes us to ask ourselves ethical questions about our actions, about society, about the use of the tools that we develop and make socially usable,” Parolin said.

“A strong moral sense pushes us to denounce and take actions that put an end to injustices through philanthropic and solidarity actions that counteract the manifestations of evil.”

He also noted that humans are capable of contemplating beauty and artistic expression in many different forms, as well as possessing “the openness to the transcendent horizon which in the lives of many of us leads to religious experience, but which also prompts us to question ourselves about the ultimate questions.”

“The ancient thinkers encapsulated this specificity and uniqueness of the human being in a single term, humanitas, which from Cicero onwards became the category with which to indicate the objective principle of a complex system of exquisitely human moral values,” Parolin said.

“Now, this day seals the three days full of content, and is also the final moment of a complex itinerary of reflection. However, it is also an openness to a constant search for human natures conducted by the philosophers and men of culture of the past. My wish is, therefore, to continue to deepening the mystery of our being with enthusiasm and determination, to discover and be fascinated by what makes us truly human,” he said.


[…]

No Picture
News Briefs

Spain passes euthanasia, assisted suicide law

March 18, 2021 CNA Daily News 1

Madrid, Spain, Mar 18, 2021 / 08:01 pm (CNA).- Spain’s legislature passed a law Thursday to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. Catholic leaders have decried the measure as “a defeat for all”, which abandons those who suffer.

T… […]

No Picture
News Briefs

Tasmania poised to legalize euthanasia, assisted suicide

March 5, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Hobart, Australia, Mar 5, 2021 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- The Australian island of Tasmania is expected to become the third Australian state to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, after a bill passed the lower house of the state’s parliament Thursday night.

The law would apply to people over 18 with an advanced, incurable, irreversible condition expected to cause death within six months, and patients can opt out of the decision at any time, the Australian Associated Press reported.

In a 16-6 vote March 4, the bill was passed by the House of Assembly. The governing Liberal Party members were given a conscience vote on the bill. All nine members of the opposition Australian Labor Party voted for the bill, as did both members of the Greens, who are crossbenchers.

Tasmanian lawmakers debated the bill, known as “End of Life Choices,” extensively this week. The state’s legislature has in the past rejected bills to legalize assisted suicide, most recently in 2013.

The bill will require approval from the parliament’s upper house before it can become law.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia have been legal in Victoria since June 2019, and in December 2019 Western Australia passed a law allowing the practices, which is expected to take effect in mid-2021.

Australia is currently considering legalizing euthanasia nationwide.

One of the Tasmanian bill’s provisions states that medical practitioners who object to assisted suicide and euthanasia must provide the patient seeking it with the contact information for the state’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Commission. 

Anther provision would allow assisted suicide to be prescribed via telemedicine— a provision hotly debated in Tasmania’s parliament.

The Tasmanian branch of the Australian Medical Association told ABC News last year that they do not support the bill, or assisted suicide in general. “The bill as it stands is really physician-assisted suicide and we don’t support that … we don’t agree that a doctor should ever do any action with a primary purpose of ending a person’s life,” AMA Tasmania President Helen McArdle told the ABC.

Live and Die Well, a Tasmanian group that advocates for palliative care rather than assisted suicide, has argued against the bill on the grounds that it does not provide enough safeguards for the vulnerable.

New South Wales rejected such a bill in 2017, as did the national parliament in 2016.

The Northern Territory legalized assisted suicide in 1995, but the Australian parliament overturned the law two years later.

Catholic bishops in Australia have repeatedly written in support of palliative care as an alternative to assisted suicide and euthaniasia.

The state of Victoria reported more than ten times the anticipated number of deaths from assisted suicide and euthanasia in its first legal year.

Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board reported 124 deaths by assisted suicide and euthanasia since June 19, 2019, when the legalization of the precedure took effect, The Catholic Weekly reported. There were a total of 231 permits issued for the procedure that year. The state’s premier had publicly predicted only “a dozen” deaths by assisted suicide in the first year.

Last month, an Australian university found that the country has less than half the number of palliative care physicians needed to care for terminally-ill patients.

A study published by Australian Catholic University’s PM Glynn Institute revealed that the country only has 0.9 palliative care doctors per every 100,000 people. According to the ACU, health industry standards state there should be at least two doctors for this population.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s September 2020 letter Samaritanus bonus reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the sinfulness of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and recalled the obligation of Catholics to accompany the sick and dying through prayer, physical presence, and the sacraments.

Samaritanus bonus also addressed the pastoral care of Catholics who request euthanasia or assisted suicide, explaining that a priest and others should avoid any active or passive gesture which might signal approval for the action, including remaining until the act is performed.


[…]

No Picture
News Briefs

Bishop calls for renewed fight against racism on MLK Day 

January 18, 2021 CNA Daily News 2

CNA Staff, Jan 18, 2021 / 02:49 am (CNA).- As Catholics and other Americans observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, they should renew their commitment to fighting racism, said Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington.

“Through Dr. King’s witness and the power of his echoing words, he championed the inherent God-given dignity of all persons, particularly those subjected to bigotry and prejudice,” Burbidge said in a Jan. 15 statement.

“In his courageous fight against racism and bigotry, Dr. King relied upon faith and prayer. Hope and transformative love were central to his message, as he reminded us, ‘hate is too great a burden to bear.’”

Unfortunately, the bishop said, bigotry is still prevalent today, noting that the “sin of racism continues to affect men, women and children in communities across the nation.”

The Virginia General Assembly this week discussed a resolution that would declare institutional racism to be a public health crisis in the state. It was first introduced by Delegate Lashrecse D. Aird (D-Petersburg), during a special session in August, but the topic was postponed until the regular session on Wednesday.

If passed, the resolution would permanently establish the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law, expand the power of Virginia’s Department of Health’s Office of Health Equity, and launch anti-racism training for all state elected officials and employees.

Thirty states, including North Carolina, West Virginia, and Maryland, have declared racism to be a public health crisis.

Bishop Burbidge said the diocese has worked to fight racism through prayer, education, and action. He pointed to the diocese’s recent creation of an Advisory Council on Racism.

The council, he said, “works to identify how instances of racism, prejudice and bias have impacted individuals and communities in the Diocese and to develop a plan to bring about positive change in light of the Gospel and the teachings of our Faith.”

“As we work to address this evil, we must remember that what we ultimately seek is a genuine conversion of hearts that will compel change,” the bishop added.

“Together, let us pray that those harboring the burden of hate yield to the Prince of Peace, the source of salvation and love, Jesus Christ.”

 


[…]