Pope Francis urged researchers Monday to respect the dignity of every person as they work to advance science and technology for the good of humanity.
The pope spoke to experts gathered for the Pontifical Academy for Life annual general assembly this week in Rome, according to the Catholic News Agency.
The Pontifical Academy for Life, created in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, promotes protections for human life at all stages and conducts research on moral and bioethical issues. It is influential world-wide in promoting Catholic teachings on abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and other issues involving life and family.
In his message, Pope Francis urged researchers to “ensure that scientific and technological growth is reconciled more and more with a parallel development … in responsibility, values, and conscience.”
“It is a delicate frontier, at which progress, ethics and society meet, and where faith, in its perennial relevance, can make a valuable contribution,” Pope Francis said. “In this sense, the Church never ceases to encourage the progress of science and technology at the service of the dignity of the person and integral human development.”
He also spoke about the unique value of humanity, including human contact, saying technology never will be able to replace humans.
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“It is evident that the technological form of human experience is becoming more pervasive every day: in the distinctions between ‘natural’ and ‘artificial,’ ‘biological’ and ‘technological,’ the criteria with which to discern what is human and of technology become increasingly difficult. Therefore, a serious reflection on the very value of man is important,” he said.
The pope also warned the academy that technological advances can move so fast that their impact is “not always clear and predictable,” according to CNA. He said scientists must remember that technology is for the benefit of humanity.
“It is paradoxical, for example, referring to technologies for enhancing the biological functions of a subject, to speak of an ‘augmented’ man if one forgets that the human body refers back to the integral good of the person and therefore cannot be identified with the biological organism alone. A wrong approach in this field actually ends up not ‘augmenting’ but ‘compressing’ man,” he said.
Pope Francis recently faced criticism for appointing a pro-abortion economist to the Pontifical Academy for Life, which promotes protections for human life at all stages and conducts research on moral and bioethical issues.
However, he also regularly condemns the killing of unborn babies in abortions, often likening it to hiring a “hitman” to kill a child.