Blessed Pope John Paul II and the Environment, Part II
Presented by the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center
"I love these mountains; up here one breathes with the pure mountain air the mysterious invitation to faith and conversion." --Vacationing in the Italian Alps, 1990.
In front of the majesty of the mountains we are pushed to establish a more respectful relationship with nature....At the same time...we are stimulated to meditate upon the gravity of so many desecrations of nature, often carried out with inadmissible nonchalance.
--Lorenzago Dicardore, Italy, discussing hiking in the Dolomite Mountains, July 15, 1996
Every time that I have the opportunity to rest in the mountains and contemplate these landscapes, I thank God for the majestic beauty of creation. I thank him for his own Beauty, of which the universe is a reflection, capable of fascinating attentive souls, urging them to praise its greatness.
--Message to Benedictines for 1500th Anniversary, July 11, 1999
I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to spend a time of rest again this year in this charming mountainous locality, which brings to mind the majestic presence of God.
--Angelus Message, July 16, 2000
The Gospel, above all else, is the joy of creation. God, who in creating saw that His creation was good (cf. Gn 1:1-25), is the source of joy for all creatures, and above all for humankind. God the Creator seems to say of all creation: 'It is good that you exist.' And His joy spreads especially through the 'good news,' according to which good is greater than all that is evil in the world. Evil, in fact, is neither fundamental nor definitive. This point clearly distinguishes Christianity from all forms of existential pessimism. Creation was given and entrusted to humankind as a duty, representing not a source of suffering but the foundation of a creative existence in the world....
A person who believes in the essential goodness of all creation is capable of discovering all the secrets of creation, in order to perfect continually the work assigned to him by God. It must be clear for those who accept Revelation, and in particular the Gospel, that it is better to exist than not to exist. And because of this, in the realm of the Gospel, there is no space for any nirvana, apathy, or resignation. Instead, there is a great challenge to perfect creation-be it oneself, be it the world....
This essential joy of creation is, in turn, completed by the joy of salvation, by the joy of redemption...The work of redemption is to elevate the work of creation to a new level. Creation is permeated with a redemptive sanctification, even a divinization. It comes as if drawn to the sphere of the divinity and of the intimate life of God. In this realm the destructive power of sin is defeated. Indestructible life, revealed in the Resurrection of Christ, 'swallows,' so to speak, death.
--From the book by Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
In the light of the doctrine of the Second Vatican Council, the truth about creation is not merely a truth of faith based on the revelation of the Old and New Testaments. It is also a truth common to all believers 'no matter what their religion,' that is to say, all those 'who recognize the voice and the revelation of the Creator in the language of creatures.'
--General audience of April 2, 1986.
By creating, God called into being from nothing all that began to exist outside himself. But God's creative act does not end here. What comes forth from nothing would return to nothing if it were left to itself and not conserved in being by the Creator. Having created the cosmos, God continues to create it, by maintaining it in existence. Conservation is a continuous creation. We can say that understood in the most generic sense, divine Providence is expressed especially in this "conservation," namely, in maintaining in existence all that has had being from nothing. In this sense Providence is a constant and unending confirmation of the work of creation in all its richness and variety. It implies the constant and uninterrupted presence of God as Creator in the whole of creation. It is a presence which continually creates and reaches the deepest roots of everything that exists.
--General audience of May 7, 1986.
As Creator, God is in a certain sense "outside" of created being and what is created is "outside" of God. At the same time the creature fully and completely owes to God its own existence (its being what it is), because the creature has its origin fully and completely from the power of God. Through this creative power (omnipotence) God is in the creature and the creature is in him. However, this divine immanence in no way diminishes God's transcendence in regard to everything to which he gives existence.
--General audience of January 15, 1986.
Omnipotence reveals also the love of God who, in creating, gives existence to beings different from himself, and at the same time different among themselves.
--General audience of March 5, 1986
God calls creatures into existence by a fully free and sovereign decision. In a real, though limited and partial way, they participate in the perfection of God's absolute fullness. They differ from one another according to the degree of perfection they have received, beginning with inanimate beings, then up to animate beings, and finally to human beings; or rather, higher still, to the creatures of a purely spiritual nature. The ensemble of creatures constitutes the universe. In its totality as well as its parts, the visible and invisible cosmos reflects eternal Wisdom and expresses the inexhaustible love of the Creator.
--General audience of March 12, 1986
All of us experience firsthand the sad effects of this blind submission to pure consumerism: in the first place a crass materialism, and at the same time a radical dissatisfaction, because one quickly learns - unless one is shielded from the flood of publicity and the ceaseless and tempting offers of products - that the more one possesses the more one wants, while deeper aspirations remain unsatisfied and perhaps even stifled....
To "have" objects and goods does not in itself perfect the human subject, unless it contributes to the maturing and enrichment of that subject's "being," that is to say unless it contributes to the realization of the human vocation as such.
Of course, the difference between "being" and "having," the danger inherent in a mere multiplication or replacement of things possessed compared to the value of "being," need not turn into a contradiction. One of the greatest injustices in the contemporary world consists precisely in this: that the ones who possess much are relatively few and those who possess almost nothing are many. It is the injustice of the poor distribution of the goods and services originally intended for all.
This then is the picture: there are some people - the few who possess much - who do not really succeed in "being" because, through a reversal of the hierarchy of values, they are hindered by the cult of "having"; and there are others - the many who have little or nothing - who do not succeed in realizing their basic human vocation because they are deprived of essential goods.
The evil does not consist in "having" as such, but in possessing without regard for the quality and the ordered hierarchy of the goods one has. Quality and hierarchy arise from the subordination of goods and their availability to man's "being" and his true vocation.
This shows that although development has a necessary economic dimension, since it must supply the greatest possible number of the world's inhabitants with an availability of goods essential for them "to be," it is not limited to that dimension. If it is limited to this, then it turns against those whom it is meant to benefit....
Development which is not only economic must be measured and oriented according to the reality and vocation of man seen in his totality, namely, according to his interior dimension. There is no doubt that he needs created goods and the products of industry, which is constantly being enriched by scientific and technological progress. And the ever greater availability of material goods not only meets needs but also opens new horizons. The danger of the misuse of material goods and the appearance of artificial needs should in no way hinder the regard we have for the new goods and resources placed at our disposal and the use we make of them. On the contrary, we must see them as a gift from God and as a response to the human vocation, which is fully realized in Christ.
However, in trying to achieve true development we must never lose sight of that dimension which is in the specific nature of man, who has been created by God in his image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26). It is a bodily and a spiritual nature, symbolized in the second creation account by the two elements: the earth, from which God forms man's body, and the breath of life which he breathes into man's nostrils (cf. Gen 2:7).
Thus man comes to have a certain affinity with other creatures: he is called to use them, and to be involved with them. As the Genesis account says (cf. Gen 2:15), he is placed in the garden with the duty of cultivating and watching over it, being superior to the other creatures placed by God under his dominion (cf. Gen 1:25-26). But at the same time man must remain subject to the will of God, who imposes limits upon his use and dominion over things (cf. Gen 2:16-17), just as he promises his mortality (cf. Gen 2:9; Wis 2:23). Thus man, being the image of God, has a true affinity with him too. On the basis of this teaching, development cannot consist only in the use, dominion over and indiscriminate possession of created things and the products of human industry, but rather in subordinating the possession, dominion and use to man's divine likeness and to his vocation to immortality. This is the transcendent reality of the human being, a reality which is seen to be shared from the beginning by a couple, a man and a woman (cf. Gen 1:27), and is therefore fundamentally social.
--Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, December 30, 1987
VATICAN CITY (CWN) - Pope John Paul on Sunday told Catholics that respect and careful use of the environment are commands from Scripture, and said the season of Lent offers a lesson on nature.
Man's privileged position over nature, as outlined in the Bible, did not authorize him to devastate it, the Pope said in his weekly Sunday Angelus address. Humans have a "privileged position" in the world, "but this is not authority to lord over it, even less to devastate it," the Holy Father said.
The Pope also said the penitential season of Lent leading up to Easter offers a "profound lesson to respect the environment." He said a tendency toward a "culture of domination" in modern society had led too many people to abuse nature and at times even to be accomplices to its devastation.
This attitude leads to "a distorted use of nature that disfigures it and endangers the equilibrium," he said. "And it does not stop even with the threat of ecological disaster," he added.
An authentic understanding of creation, the Pope concluded, must follow the words of St. Paul, that all creation is longing for liberation through Jesus Christ. Such liberation comes by ending slavery to sin. Thus the needs of the environment are like the needs of the human soul, especially in the season of Lent: the renunciation of selfishness leads to new and greater life.
--March 25, 1996
Vatican (CWN) -- Speaking to an international Rotary Club group at the Vatican this morning, Pope John Paul II said that care for the environment now constitutes one of the "new forms of solidarity" across the generations. By careful stewardship of our natural resources, he explained, we can help "those who are neediest, and those of future generations."
The Rotary Club International is meeting in Rome to discuss the theme of security and the environment. Responding to that theme, the Holy Father urged the international delegates not to fall into the "double temptation" of the modern era: the temptation to equate wisdom with power over nature, and to use resources solely in pursuit of immediate profit "according to the mentality of modern capitalist society."
Against that temptation, the Pope urged the Rotary leaders to consider the world's environment as a home for mankind, to be maintained in the best possible condition. He emphasized that "our new scientific capacities have taken on a strong ethical dimension."
--March 24, 1997
The lofty and demanding task of peace, deeply rooted in humanity's vocation to be one family and to recognize itself as such, has one of its foundations in the principle of the universal destination of the earth's resources. This principle does not delegitimize private property; instead it broadens the understanding and management of private property to embrace its indispensable social function, to the advantage of the common good and in particular the good of society's weakest members....
At the beginning of a new century, the one issue which most challenges our human and Christian consciences is the poverty of countless millions of men and women. This situation becomes all the more tragic when we realize that the major economic problems of our time do not depend on a lack of resources but on the fact that present economic, social and cultural structures are ill-equipped to meet the demands of genuine development.
--From the Vatican, 8 December 1999
Through the careful and persevering reading of the witness of created things, human reason is directed toward God and approaches him. This is in a certain sense the 'ascending' way. Using the steps of creation, humankind rises toward God by reading the witness of the being, the truth, the goodness, and the beauty that creatures have in themselves. This way of knowledge, which in a certain sense has its origin in humankind and in his mind, enables the creature to ascend to the Creator. We can call it the way of 'knowing.' There is a second way, the way of 'faith,' which has its origin exclusively in God. These two ways differ from each other, but they meet in man himself and in a certain way mutually complete and help each other.
Unlike knowledge through reason, which begins in 'creatures' and which only indirectly leads to God, in the knowledge that comes through faith we draw upon revelation, in which God 'makes himself known' directly. God reveals himself. He allows himself to be known, manifesting 'the hidden purpose of his will' (Eph 1:9). God's will is that humankind, by means of Christ, the Word made man, could have access to the Father in the Spirit and be made a sharer in the divine nature. God therefore reveals 'himself' to humankind, at the same time revealing his salvific plan with regard to humankind. God's mysterious saving plan cannot be known by human reason alone.
--General audience of March 27, 1985 from God, Father and Creator
5 million people were exposed to nuclear radiation when one of the reactors at
the Ukrainian power plant burst into flames on April 26, 1986. A toxic cloud
from the accident spread across Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, contaminating
thousands of people. About 3.4 million people were seriously exposed to
radioactivity; of these, 1.2 million are children, whose immune systems have
"In recalling the tragic effects caused by the accident of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, one's thoughts go to future generations represented by these children," the Pontiff said.
"It is necessary to prepare a peaceful future for them, without fear of
similar threats," he added. "This is a commitment for all.
In order for this to take place, it is necessary that a common scientific,
technical and human effort be made to put energy at the service of peace, in
respect of man's and nature's needs. The future of the whole of mankind
depends on this."
He continued: "While we pray for the numerous victims of Chernobyl, and for those who bear in their bodies signs of such a great catastrophe, let us ask the Lord for light and support for those at different levels who are responsible for the destiny of humanity."
--VATICAN CITY, APR. 27, 2001
Material goods and the way we are developing the use of them should be seen as God's gifts to us. They are meant to bring out in each one of us the image of God. We must never lose sight of how we have been created: from the earth and from the breath of God.
--Solicitudo Rei Socialis . . . in everyday language. On Social Concern, 1987
The most profound motive for our work is this knowing that we share in creation. Learning the meaning of creation in our daily lives will help us to live holier lives. It will fill the world with the spirit of Christ, the spirit of justice, charity, and peace.
--#25 - Donders translation
We seem to be increasingly aware of the fact that the exploitation of the earth, the planet on which we are living, demands rational and honest planning. At the same time, exploitation of the earth not only for industrial but also for military purposes and the uncontrolled development of technology outside the framework of a long-range authentically humanistic plan often bring with them a threat to man's natural environment, alienate him in his relations with nature and remove him from nature. Man often seems to see no other meaning in his natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption. Yet it was the Creator's will that man should communicate with nature as an intelligent and noble 'master' and 'guardian', and not as a heedless 'exploiter' and 'destroyer'. " (Section 15)
The essential meaning of this 'kingship' and 'dominion' of man over the visible world, which the Creator himself gave man for his task, consists in the priority of ethics over technology, in the primacy of the person over things, and in the superiority of spirit over matter. (Section 16)
--Redemptor Hominis (1979)
When man disobeys God and refuses to submit to his rule, nature rebels against him and no longer recognizes him as its 'master', for he has tarnished the divine image in himself. The claim to ownership and use of created things remains still valid, but after sin its exercise becomes difficult and full of suffering (cf. Gen 3: 17-19). (Section 30)
--Solicitudo Rei Socialis (1988)
Among today's positive signs we must also mention a greater realization of the limits of available resources, and of the need to respect the integrity and the cycles of nature and to take them into account when planning for development rather than sacrificing them to certain demagogic ideas about the latter. Today this is called ecological concern....Nor can the moral character of development exclude respect for the beings which constitute the natural world, which the ancient Greeks alluding precisely to the order which distinguishes it--called the 'cosmos'. Such realities also demand respect, by virtue of a threefold consideration which it is useful to reflect upon carefully.
1. The first consideration is the appropriateness of acquiring a growing awareness of the fact that one cannot use with impunity the different categories of beings, whether living or inanimate, animals, plants, the natural elements simply as one wishes, according to one's own economic needs. On the contrary, one must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system, which is precisely the 'cosmos'.
2. The second consideration is based on the realization which is perhaps more urgent that natural resources are limited; some are not, as it is said, renewable. Using them as if they were inexhaustible, with absolute dominion, seriously endangers their availability not only for the present generation but above all for generations to come.
3. The third consideration refers directly to the consequences of a certain type of development on the quality of life in the industrialized zones. We all know that the direct or indirect result of industrialization is, ever more frequently, the pollution of the environment, with serious consequences for the health of the population.
Once again it is evident that development, the planning which governs it, and the way in which resources are used must include respect for moral demands. One of the latter undoubtedly imposes limits on the use of the natural world. The dominion granted to man by the Creator is not an absolute power, nor can one speak of a freedom to 'use and misuse', or to dispose of things as one pleases. The limitation imposed from the beginning by the Creator himself and expressed symbolically by the prohibition not to 'eat of the fruit of the tree' (cf. Gen 2:16-17) shows clearly enough that, when it comes to the natural world, we are subject not only to biological laws but also to moral ones, which cannot be violated with impunity. A true concept of development cannot ignore the use of the elements of nature, the renewability of resources, and the consequences of haphazard industrialization, three considerations which alert our consciences to the moral dimension of development. (Section 34)
Development which is merely economic is incapable of setting man free; on the contrary, it will end by enslaving him further. (Section 46)
--Solicitudo Rei Socialis (1988)
It is necessary to state once more the characteristic principle of Christian social doctrine: the goods of this world are originally meant for all. The right to private property is valid and necessary, but it does not nullify the value of this principle. Private property, in fact, is under a 'social mortgage', which means that it has an intrinsically social function, based upon and justified precisely by the principle of the universal destination of goods....
The motivating concern for the poor -- who are, in the very meaningful term, 'the Lord's poor' -- must be translated at all levels into concrete actions. (Section 43)
--Solicitudo Rei Socialis (1988)
By FRANCES D'EMILIO, Associated Press Writer VATICAN CITY (AP), November 12, 2000 -- Dedicating Sunday to the world's farmers, Pope John Paul II urged those who are developing new biotechnologies to keep a "healthy balance'' with nature to avoid putting people's lives at risk. Tens of thousands of farmers and their families, most of them from Italy but many from other countries and continents, crowded into St. Peter's Square on a chilly, overcast day to attend Mass celebrated by the Pope on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica. The Mass was part of a Holy Year tribute to the world of agriculture. His words picked up on a speech he gave Saturday evening in which he urged rigorous scientific and ethical controls to avoid possible "disaster for the health of man and the future of the Earth'' from new agricultural technologies. On Sunday, the Pope told the farmers in the square that "if the world of most refined techniques doesn't reconcile itself with the simple language of nature in a healthy balance, the life of man will run ever greater risks, of which already we are seeing worrying signs.'' John Paul told the farmers to "resist the temptations of productivity and profit that work to the detriment of the respect of nature.'' Saying God entrusted land to mankind to take care of it, the Pope said: "When you forget this principle, becoming tyrants and not custodians of the Earth, sooner or later the Earth rebels.''
Reuters, November 12, 2000 -- Pope Paul said today that if humanity did not learn to reconcile technology with respect for nature, life on earth would become ever more dangerous. "Today, all people have a right to live from the fruits of the earth. It is an intolerable scandal that at the start of the new millennium there are very many people who are still reduced to hunger and who live in conditions that are unworthy of man," he said. "We can no longer limit ourselves to academic reflection. We must erase this shame from humanity with appropriate political and economic choices on a planetary level." The Pope attacked what he called the "irrational consumerism" and "culture of waste" that had taken hold in developed countries.
Human behavior sometimes is the cause of serious ecological imbalance, with particularly harmful and disastrous consequences in different countries and the globe as a whole....
The Creator has put man in creation, charging him to administer it for the sake of the good of all, thanks to his intelligence and his reason. We can therefore be certain that even a person's tiny good actions have a mysterious effect of social change and contribute to the growth of all. On the basis of the covenant with the Creator, towards whom man is called over and over to return, each one is invited to a deep personal conversion in his or her relationship with others and with nature.
--Address to the Seminar on "Science for Survival and Sustainable Development," March 12, 1999
The Jubilee is a further summons to conversion of heart through a change of life. It is a reminder to all that they should give absolute importance neither to the goods of the earth, since these are not God, nor to man's domination or claim to domination, since the earth belongs to God and to him alone: 'the earth is mine and you are strangers and sojourners with me' [Leviticus 25:23]. May this year of grace touch the hearts of those who hold in their hands the fate of the world's peoples!
--Incarnationis Mysterium, Bull Proclaiming the Great Jubilee of 2000, 1998, n. 12.
We are quickly learning how vital it is to respect the ecology of nature, if we are not to cause serious harm to the world future generations will receive from us. More urgent still, though more difficult, is the need to learn to respect the ecology of the human world, by which I mean the truth of the human person and the social implications of this.
--May 25, 2000 (Zenit.org) John Paul II Welcomes Four New Ambassadors to the Vatican
In this context we also need to examine the growing concern felt by many economists and financial professionals when, in considering new issues involving poverty, peace, ecology and the future of the younger generation, they reflect on the role of the market, on the pervasive influence of monetary and financial interests, on the widening gap between the economy and society, and on other similar issues related to economic activity.
Perhaps the time has come for a new and deeper reflection on the nature of the economy and its purposes. What seems to be urgently needed is a reconsideration of the concept of 'prosperity' itself, to prevent it from being enclosed in a narrow utilitarian perspective which leaves very little space for values such as solidarity and altruism.
Here I would like to invite economists and financial professionals, as well as political leaders, to recognize the urgency of the need to ensure that economic practices and related political policies have as their aim the good of every person and of the whole person. This is not only a demand of ethics but also of a sound economy.
-- MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE WORLD DAY OF PEACE, 1 JANUARY 2000
The question of the environment is closely related to other important social issues, insofar as the environment embraces all that surrounds us and all upon which human life depends. Hence the importance of a correct approach to the question. In this regard, reflection on the biblical foundations of care for the created world can clarify the obligation to promote a sound and healthy environment.
The use of the earth's resources is another crucial aspect of the environmental question. A study of this complex problem goes to the very heart of the organization of modern society. Reflecting on the environment in the light of Sacred Scripture and the social teaching of the Church, we cannot but raise the question of the very style of life promoted by modern society, and in particular the question of the uneven way in which the benefits of progress are distributed. The Pontifical Council will render a valuable service to the Church, and through the Church to all of humanity, in promoting a deeper understanding of the obligation to work for greater justice and equity in the way people are enabled to share in the resources of God's creation.
--MESSAGE OF JOHN PAUL II TO THE PLENARY ASSEMBLY OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE, 1999
When concern for economic and technological progress is not accompanied by concern for the balance of the ecosystem, our earth is inevitably exposed to serious environmental damage, with consequent harm to human beings. Blatant disrespect for the environment will continue as long as the earth and its potential are seen merely as objects of immediate use and consumption, to be manipulated by an unbridled desire for profit. It is the duty of Christians and of all who look to God as the Creator to protect the environment by restoring a sense of reverence for the whole of God's creation. It is the Creator's will that man should treat nature not as a ruthless exploiter but as an intelligent and responsible administrator. The Synod Fathers pleaded in a special way for greater responsibility on the part of the leaders of nations, legislators, business people and all who are directly involved in the management of the earth's resources. They underlined the need to educate people, especially the young, in environmental responsibility, training them in the stewardship over creation which God has entrusted to humanity. The protection of the environment is not only a technical question; it is also and above all an ethical issue. All have a moral duty to care for the environment, not only for their own good but also for the good of future generations.
--POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION, ECCLESIA
IN ASIA, OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II TO THE BISHOPS, PRIESTS AND
DEACONS, MEN AND WOMEN IN THE CONSECRATED LIFE AND ALL THE LAY FAITHFUL ON
JESUS CHRIST THE SAVIOUR AND HIS MISSION OF LOVE AND SERVICE IN ASIA:
"...THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE,
AND HAVE IT ABUNDANTLY" (Jn 10:10)
The Book of Wisdom contains several important texts which cast further light on this theme. There the sacred author speaks of God who reveals himself in nature. For the ancients, the study of the natural sciences coincided in large part with philosophical learning. Having affirmed that with their intelligence human beings can 'know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements... the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars, the natures of animals and the tempers of wild beasts' (Wis 7:17, 19-20)—in a word, that he can philosophize—the sacred text takes a significant step forward. Making his own the thought of Greek philosophy, to which he seems to refer in the context, the author affirms that, in reasoning about nature, the human being can rise to God: 'From the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator,' (Wis 13:5). This is to recognize as a first stage of divine Revelation the marvelous 'book of nature', which, when read with the proper tools of human reason, can lead to knowledge of the Creator. If human beings with their intelligence fail to recognize God as Creator of all, it is not because they lack the means to do so, but because their free will and their sinfulness place an impediment in the way....
In the field of scientific research, a positivistic mentality took hold which not only abandoned the Christian vision of the world, but more especially rejected every appeal to a metaphysical or moral vision. It follows that certain scientists, lacking any ethical point of reference, are in danger of putting at the center of their concerns something other than the human person and the entirety of the person's life. Further still, some of these, sensing the opportunities of technological progress, seem to succumb not only to a market-based logic, but also to the temptation of a quasi-divine power over nature and even over the human being....
[Saint] Thomas recognized that nature, philosophy's proper concern, could contribute to the understanding of divine Revelation. Faith therefore has no fear of reason, but seeks it out and has trust in it. Just as grace builds on nature and brings it to fulfillment, so faith builds upon and perfects reason. Illumined by faith, reason is set free from the fragility and limitations deriving from the disobedience of sin and finds the strength required to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God.
--ENCYCLICAL LETTER FIDES ET RATIO OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF JOHN PAUL II TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FAITH AND REASON, 1998
The transplanting of animal organs to people must respect
three fundamental criteria, John Paul II said in a message published by the
Vatican on July 2, 2001.
Given the "new problems of a scientific and ethical nature" posed by these transplants, the Pope said the procedures have "to be concerned, at the same time, with the good and dignity of the human person; the possible risks to health, which cannot always be quantified or foreseen; and respect for animals, which is always necessary, even when they are operated on for the higher good of man."
The transplant of animal organs to humans is vital, the Pope explains, because it could help to "resolve the problem of the grave insufficiency of valid human organs for transplants."
In face of this challenge, the Holy Father proposes two alliances for the progress of scientific research.
First, John Paul II highlights cooperation between science and ethics, because increasingly it is "more clearly seen" that this alliance "enriches the two branches of learning and invites them to converge when it comes to lending their help to every man and to society."
Second, the Pope proposes an alliance between faith and science, because "rational reflection, confirmed by faith, discovers that God the creator has placed man at the summit of the visible world and, at the same time, entrusted him with the task of directing his own way, by respecting his own dignity, and pursuing the genuine good of his fellowmen."
"Therefore, the Church will always give her support and aid to anyone seeking the authentic good of man, with the effort of reason, illuminated by faith."
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