Saturday, 18 August 2012 13:00
In the US the philosopher Peter Singer of Princeton University, one of the most influential bioethicists (known as the father of animal rights), wrote in support of abortion that “membership of the species Homo sapiens is not enough to confer a right to life.” ( The Scotsman , 15 Aug 2012). Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, a leader of the “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice” in Wisconsin, states that taking away the right to abortion would violate the “essence of being human” (LifeSiteNews.com, 15 Aug 2012). In the meantime, new cell lines are being produced in laboratories from human embryos for “in vitro ” assays in order to reduce the number of animals used in experiments. A recent study (BioResearch Open Access, Vol.1,n.4,August 2012) showed that after 18 years frozen embryos continue to be pluripotent and therefore can be used in cell therapy. This suggests that freezing and banking human embryonic cells could be a good biomedical strategy. Clinical trials with human embryos are now being conducted in many parts of the world including Italy (where the embryos used are supposed to be from miscarriages, maintaining the image of an ethical mindset).
In this panorama, marked by a paroxysmal race for results and success, the Rimini Meeting offers a simple suggestion: look at our nature to see that our life aspires to “much more” . In fact, the meeting opens with the words of Mons. Giussani: “By his nature man is related to the infinite”.
That same point was reiterated by Benedict XVI during his visit to Cuba: “ Man needs the infinite ”. To experience this “need”, noticing the simplicity of one's heart in daily life is enough and noticing especially our weakness revealed by it. As Romano Guardini wrote:" The eternal is not related to the biological life, but to the person. The awareness of this everlasting condition increases according to the measure in which we sincerely accept our own transience. Who tries to avoid it, hide from it or deny it , will never be aware. The contingent points to the absolute".
The challenge is not that of overcoming limits by our own abilities but that of accepting them as a necessary condition in order to discover that there exists an “ultimate and mysterious” relation which defines us. No research scientific, medical, biological or neurobiological should ignore this relation, which renders the human being in his entirety (including his biological structure)as a subject not to be reduced, manipulated or disposed of.
This was also the testimony of Jerome Lejeune (whose cause for beatification has begun). He was a founder of clinical genetics, who discovered the causes of certain genetic syndromes (among them Down Syndrome). Because of his position he was denied of the Nobel Price. He saw every human being as “ unique and irreplaceable” precisely because of his relation to the infinite.
Augusto Pessina, Department of Biomedical Surgical, Dental Sciences. University of Milan....