By Vatican News staff writer
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, participated in a virtual edition of the Forum Panel on “Islamic Ethics and Infertility Treatment” on Wednesday.
The forum, hosted by the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), discussed assisted reproductive technologies, including in vitro fertilization and cryopreservation, and the unique ethical concerns these technologies raise.
The transmission of life
Archbishop Paglia underscored the important position that the transmission of life holds in Catholic thinking, as it is understood within the relationship of factors that unify sexual activity, the love between spouses, and generation.
He explained that our tradition considers this unity as a fundamental anthropological truth that is engraved in the experience common to all cultures. As such, the bond between spousal love and generation is a “gift more than a duty”, and calls for our protection.
The Archbishop further clarified that since every child is generated in an encounter between a man and a woman, involving their existence and history - not simply their bodies or the cells provided by their reproductive organs - the experience of birth helps us understand the meaning of human sexuality, because each child is born within an alliance that hosts him or her.
In this light, generating is welcoming a child who, although coming to us, does not belong to us. The gestation period in this sense becomes of enormous importance as it allows the parents to process their welcome of the child developing in the mother’s body, recognizing him or her “not as a foreigner, an opponent, but as a guest.”
The import of the religious experience
Archbishop Paglia noted that our “religious experience makes it possible to consider the question within a horizon that transcends earthly concerns and avoids absolutizing a child as something to be had no matter what it takes.”
He added that every way in which the “development of human life and fraternal solidarity is supported and fostered is an expression of the fruitfulness of the couple and the family, even if it is not possible to have one’s own descendants.” It is in this way that we live out our being “sons and daughters of God,” he affirmed.
Covid-19, religion and medical ethics
On Tuesday, the first panel, on “Covid and Palliative Care”, and the second, on “Religion and Medical Ethics: Reflections on Autonomy and Authority”, were held in partnership with the Pontifical Academy for Life and the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Speaking on assisted suicide and euthanasia, Dr. Nunziata Comoretto of the Pontifical Academy for Life noted that these two controversial issues have the problem of requiring the involvement of another person who must carry out, or at least participate in the action.
Legally authorizing an action contrary to the protection of human life without admitting the possibility of conscientious objection, Comoretto noted, “means at least violating the freedom that deserves the same dignity and respect as the patient’s one.”
Comoretto further pointed out that the main religious traditions affirm that euthanasia and assisted suicide means “abandoning the patient to his or her suffering (false compassion), rather than looking at the suffering of those around us with responsibility and solidarity”, Therefore, the major religions stress that “taking care is the only possible answer”.
In 2017, the Pontifical Academy for Life started a project dedicated to palliative care named PAL-LIFE, with the aim of culturally promoting the attitude of caring. The WISH program has been an active and important member of the PAL-LIFE project.
WISH is holding a virtual Summit from 15 – 19 November 2020, with the theme, “One World Our Health”.