instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

A new paradigm

I think yesterday's speech given by Javier Lozano Cardinal Barragan of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers at Lourdes as part of the World Day of the Sick celebrations -- titled "The New Paradigm: Bioethics That Is Closed and Bioethics That Is Open to the Transcendent" -- would repay close study.

So far, all I can find is a Zenit summary. (Without disparaging their many virtues, I have to say Zenit summaries can make for painful reading. All those tortuous dialog tags -- "According to the cardinal," "he added," "the papal envoy continued".... Is it against Italian telecommunications law to transmit ellipses or something?)

Extracting from the summary, Cardinal Barragan sees a "new paradigm," which preaches a "global ethic," being imposed on the world by the World Health Organization and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -- with the Women's Environment & Development Organization, Earth Council Green Peace, and International Planned Parenthood Federation among its most important promoters:
"[T]he different religions existing in the world have not been able to generate this global ethic; therefore, they must be replaced by a new spirituality that has as its objective global well-being within sustainable development....

"The religions existing to date have been concerned with the other life; this spirituality is concerned with this earthly life. It is a spirituality without God, at the secular level. Its ultimate objective is the viability of the present world, and man's well-being in it."

"[It's most important 'anti-value' is a] new spirituality that replaces all religions, as the latter are inept in preserving the ecosystem...."

"Practically speaking, it is a new secularist religion, a religion without God, or, if one wishes a new god, that would be the earth itself, to which the name Gaia is given. This divinity would have man as a subordinate element....

"The series of values upheld by the New Paradigm are values subordinated to this divinity, which is translated into the supreme ecological value that it calls sustainable development. And within this sustainable development is the supreme ethical objective of well-being." [emphasis added]

"[T]he New Paradigm is not accepted [by Christianity] because of its denial of God and its denial of the other life....

"[Christianity] accepts the equality of the sexes, but not in the sense of homosexuality and destruction of the family. It accepts the control of birth, but not its destruction as planned in the culture of death, applied especially in the Third World....

"The New Paradigm faces one of its greatest problems when it realizes that it must base everything on a consensus that does not stem from objective truths, but from subjective opinions; then it makes an effort to forge artificial consensus.

"Such consensus is absolutely vain. This is why an ethic or bioethics based on the New Paradigm has no consistency."
The "bioethics open to transcendence" has two principles:
  1. "[H]uman life is created by God."
  2. "Human life is received by humanity, not as property but as administration. Human life is inviolable from its conception until its natural end. The dignity of the human person is inviolable."
So on the one hand, you've got sustainable development and well-being as the supreme values, on the other hand you've got human life and the dignity of the human person as supreme values.

A rational mind might notice the former depend on the latter, and so can't be supreme. I suspect those pushing the closed bioethics resolve this conflict with the simple trick of letting it go without saying that their own lives and personal dignity are to be presumed.