VATICAN CITY, FEB. 26, 2002 (www.Zenit.org).- The time has come for Catholics and non-Catholics to overcome their differences and join forces in the struggle against abortion, says the vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Bishop Elio Sgreccia spoke to ZENIT on Monday on the occasion of the inauguration of the academy's three-day general assembly.
Doctors, scientists, lawyers and experts in bioethics and theology are meeting in Rome, at the invitation of the academy, to address the topic "Nature and Dignity of the Person as Foundation of the Right to Life."
Q: What is the challenge posed by the defense of life?
Bishop Sgreccia: According to a certain libertarian culture, Catholics are opposed to abortion because they go back to a religious sentiment, but this is not exactly the truth. The time has come to surmount the clash between non-Catholics and Catholics.
In this 8th assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, we hope to ask one question: "Is there a morality that is valid for all human beings?" We are convinced that the answer is to be found in respect for the natural law, which precedes the Catholic religion and is present in man's heart.
The natural moral law is a principle that is valid for all and that presupposes a high conception of man, which must be respected because of his intrinsic dignity, and the need to defend his real good.
We reject any attempts at human cloning, out of respect for this dignity. For the same reason, we are opposed to artificial insemination, when it does not take into consideration the rightful role of the father and the mother. Human dignity must be respected at all levels, and much more so in the union between the two sexes.
Q: Some believe that the Church's position on this matter is contrary to science.
Bishop Sgreccia: That is not at all true. No one doubts the laws of physics or astronomy, but at the same time it is necessary to know the laws that regulate the life of man. The natural and moral law has the same legitimacy as the laws that regulate physics, chemistry and astronomy. The union between the natural law and the laws of science allows us to look at man in his totality.
Q: This is all well and good, but many people say that this is a private matter, that does not have to be reflected in social life, especially at the legal level, with laws, etc.
Bishop Sgreccia: Recognition of the natural law also implies recognition of the state of natural law; in fact, the natural law is perfectly reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
If properly understood, natural law exalts and defends the individual's dignity from his conception until his death, [whether] sick or healthy, handicapped or totally competent. Natural law is not something that Catholics have invented; it is an affront to human reason not to keep it in mind.