"The respect for the integrity of the human being and protection of health from conception to natural death, considering the person in his singularity, always as an end and never simply as a means" is an " ethical principle also crucial with regard to biotechnology applications in the medical field, which may never be used in a manner detrimental to human dignity, or guided solely by industrial or commercial aims." Pope Francis said this to the Italian Committee for Bioethics, on January 28th in the Consistory Hall.
"Everyone knows—he continued—how sensitive the Church is to ethical issues, but perhaps not everyone is aware that the Church does not lay claim to a privileged voice in this field. In fact, the Church is satisfied when civic responsibility, at different levels, is able to reflect, discern and act in accordance with a free and open mind-set and the social values constitutive of the human person and of society. In fact, precisely this mature civic responsibility is a sign that the seed of the Gospel—revealed and entrusted to the Church—has borne fruits, successfully encouraging the search for truth, goodness and beauty in complex human and ethical issues." According to Francis, "the essential task is to serve man, the whole man, all men and women, while giving special attention and care to those who are weakest and disadvantaged, who either struggle to make their voice heard or cannot yet do so, or are no longer able to make their voices heard. This is the ground where the Church community and the civil community meet and are called to work together, each in accordance with its particular competencies."
Pope Francis then encouraged the Committee's work on interdisciplinary analysis of the causes of environmental degradation and on the issues of disability and marginalization of vulnerable groups. It is necessary, he stressed, "to face the challenge of countering the 'throwaway culture', which today is expressed in so many different ways, including treating human embryos, and also the sick and elderly people close to dying, as disposable material." Finally, he called for "increased efforts for dialogue on the international level in order to reach, despite the difficulties, a possible and desirable harmonization of biological and medical standards and rules, capable of recognizing the core values and fundamental rights."