Pope speaks out against 'new eugenics'

The Pope has spoken against the rise of what he calls a “new eugenics”, which judges individual worth on their genetic makeup, expressed in things such as health, beauty and physical appearance.

Speaking to the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Benedict XVI said, "There are appearing in our days troubling manifestations of this hateful practice [of eugenics]."

The Pope said, "A new mentality is insinuating itself that tends to justify a different consideration of life and personal dignity based on individual desire and individual rights.

"There is thus a tendency to privilege the capacities for work, efficiency, perfection and physical beauty to the detriment of other dimensions of existence that are not held to be valuable."

Alex Schadenberg, the chairman of the International Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, attended the event. He said that the Pope was aiming his remarks at a rising trend of "genetic screening, eugenic abortion - of all types, and eugenic attitudes towards people with disabilities that are leading to euthanasia and medical discrimination related to end-of-life care", reports LifeSiteNews.

Figures show that in many Western countries, 95 per cent of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. A new screening technique is also being developed that may make it possible to diagnose if an unborn child has autism, raising fears that such children will be at greater risk of abortion.

In addition in vitro fertilisation (IVF) was also criticised as it allows parents to chose to implant an embryo into the mother’s womb which has the parents desired characteristics.

In his address, the Pope said that such practices were unacceptable. He said, "Equality and human dignity will only effectively be maintained when the human person is respected as a unique individual who is not judged by his/her utility, but rather for their innate nature as a human person."

He said: "Biological, psychological or cultural development or state of health can never become an element of discrimination. It is necessary, on the contrary, to consolidate a culture of hospitality and love that concretely testifies to solidarity with those who suffer, razing the barriers that society often erects, discriminating against those who are disabled and affected by pathologies, or worse - selecting and rejecting in the name of an abstract ideal of health and physical perfection."

He added that this new eugenics reduced man to being just a body and ignores the true value of human beings.

"Man, is greater than all of that which makes up his body; in fact, he carries with him the power of thought, which is always drawn to the truth about himself and the world," he said.

"Every human being, then, is much more than a singular combination of genetic information that is transmitted to him by his parents. The generation of man can never be reduced to the mere reproduction of a new individual of the human species, as is the case with all other animals. Every appearance of a person in the world is always a new creation. If we want to enter into the mystery of human life, then it is necessary that no science isolate itself, pretending to have the last word."

"What must be forcefully reemphasised is the equal dignity of every human being according to the fact itself of having life."