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Commission warns new technology threatens human biological integrity

In a new document on the created world, the International Theological Commission has warned that science and technology now offer the dangerous ability to "alter man himself" and destroy the biological integrity of human beings.

The document said the biblical call to "stewardship" over the natural environment extends in a special way to safeguarding human life, which is created in God's image. This understanding clearly rules out human cloning, destruction of embryos, genetic enhancement, abortion or euthanasia, it said.

The 46-page document, titled Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God, discusses people's relationship with creation, emphasising Christian teachings against unrestrained economic development and environmental damage.

The Commission is headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Members include Brisbane theologian Fr Anthony Kelly CSsR of the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane.

The document also addresses evolution, saying evolutionary explanations of biological development were acceptable as long as they did not exclude God as a transcendent cause or exclude the universe as a setting for "a radically personal drama" involving God and man.

A central question posed by the document was: "How far is man allowed to remake himself?"

The answer it offered was cautionary. While human beings are indeed agents, and not just passive subjects, of evolutionary development, they do not have a "right of full disposal" over their biological natures, it said.

"The sovereignty we enjoy is not an unlimited one: We exercise a certain participated sovereignty over the created world and, in the end, we must render an account of our stewardship to the Lord of the universe," it said.

Commission warns new technology threatens human biological integrity (Catholic News Service 20/9/04)

International Theological Commission
Columbans warn Vatican against GM food solution to world hunger (CathNews 15/9/04)
Pope condemns human cloning and human arrogance (CathNews 23/8/04)
British decision prompts Vatican to renew stem cell warning (CathNews 13/8/04)

21 Sep 2004