Archdiocese of Los Angeles Office of Life, Justice and Peace
Creation Sustainability Ministry
Year of Faith and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
“I…hope that we will make this the year when we begin the habit of life-long learning in our faith. A good place to start is to study the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), especially as they are expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.” (9)
“…I recommend that in this Year of Faith, we begin a practical study of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church in our parishes and our homes.” (12)
Jose Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles
Witness to the New World of Faith: A Pastoral Letter to the Family of God in Los Angeles on the New Evangelization and Our Missionary Call (October 2012)
Chapter Ten of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
Safeguarding the Environment
The Use of Biotechnology, 472-480
New forms of biotechnology are defining changes in agriculture, medicine and the environment. They can offer hope or harm that must be evaluated by objective study and debate by the breadth of society.
“…The application of various types of biotechnology, their acceptance from a moral point of view, their consequences for human health and their impact on the environment and the economy are the subject of thorough study and heated debate. These are controversial questions that involve scientists and researchers, politicians and legislators, economists and environmentalists, as well as producers and consumers…”(472)
Human intervention in the gift of Creation must evaluate the benefits and risks to act responsibly.
“…nature is not a sacred or divine reality that that man must leave alone. Rather, it is a gift offered by the Creator to the human community, entrusted to the intelligence and moral responsibility of men and women…Human interventions that damage living beings or the natural environment deserve condemnation, while those that improve them are praiseworthy…In the realm of technological-scientific interventions that have forceful and widespread impact on living organisms, with the possibility of significant long-term repercussions, it is unacceptable to act lightly or irresponsibly.” (473)
Biotechnology has ethical concerns in the social, economic and political realms, but it must be realized that global challenges will not only be solved by relying on technology.
“Modern biotechnologies…need to be evaluated according to the ethical criteria that must always guide human activities and relations in social, economic and political spheres. Above all the criteria of justice and solidarity must be taken into account…In any event, one must avoid falling into the error of believing that only the spreading of the benefits connected with the new techniques of biotechnology can solve the urgent problems of poverty and underdevelopment that still afflict so many countries on the planet.” (474)
A culture of international solidarity must permeate an equitable exchange of scientific and technological knowledge.
“In a spirit of international solidarity, various measures can be taken in relation to the use of new biotechnologies. In the first place, equitable commercial exchange, without the burden of unjust stipulations, is to be facilitated. Promoting the development of the most disadvantaged peoples, however, will not be authentic or effective if it is reduced to the simple exchange of products. It is indispensable to foster the development of a necessary scientific and technological autonomy on the part of these same peoples, promoting the exchange of scientific and technological knowledge and the transfer of technologies to developing countries.” (475)
Solidarity must affirm the responsibility of leaders in developing countries to promote policies that address the common good of their people.
“Solidarity also means appealing to the responsibility of developing countries, and in particular of their political leaders, for promoting trade policies that are favorable to their peoples and exchange of technology that can improve the conditions of their food supply and health. In such countries, there must be an increase in research investment, with special attention to the particular characteristics and needs of their territory and population…” (476)
As biotechnology researchers preserver to seek solutions to humanity’s urgent needs, they must assure gifts of the Creator be used with intergenerational equity.
“Scientists and technicians involved in the field of biotechnology are called to work intelligently and with perseverance in seeking the best solutions to the serious and urgent problems of food supply and health care. They must not forget that their activity concerns material—both living and inanimate—that belongs to the patrimony of humanity and is destined also to future generations…It is hoped that scientists employ their energies and abilities in research characterized by enthusiasm and guided by a clear and honest conscience.” (477)
The private sector and public agencies must collaborate for the common good on the use of biotechnology, especially when addressing concerns of marginalized countries.
“Entrepreneurs and directors of public agencies involved in research, production and selling of products derived from new biotechnologies must take into account not only legitimate profit but also the common good…By their decisions, entrepreneurs and public agency directors involved in this sector can guide developments in the area of biotechnologies towards very promising ends as far as concerns the fight against hunger, especially in poorer countries, the fight against disease and the fight to safeguard the ecosystem, the common patrimony of all.” (478)
The public sector must objectively evaluate biotechnologies for support of the common good and not be swayed by special interest groups.
“Politicians, legislators and public administrators are responsible for evaluating the potential benefits and possible risks connected with the use of biotechnologies. It is not desirable for their decisions, at the national or international level to be dictated by pressure from special interest groups. Public authorities must also encourage a correctly informed public opinion and make decisions that are best suited for the common good.” (479)
Researchers disseminating information about biotechnology modalities must provide objective data and refrain from superficial analysis.
“Leaders in the information sector also have an important task, which must be undertaken with prudence and objectivity. Society expects information that is complete and objective, which helps citizens to form a correct opinion concerning biotechnological products…The temptation to fall into superficial information, fueled by over enthusiasm or unjustified alarmism, must be avoided.” (480)
To read the full text of paragraphs 472 thru 480 visit:
Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion
In your lifetime, what biotechnology advancement has enhanced your life the most?
How do you advocate about biotechnology that ignores the common good?
Do your elected officials seek legislative safeguards against potentially harmful biotechnologies?
How does our nation stand in solidarity globally through biotechnology?
What biotechnologies interact with the gift of Creation?
Barb Born June 25, 2013