A civilization whose technological advancements do not seek to protect the most vulnerable, from conception until natural death, fails to live up to its responsibility, Pope Francis said.
In remarks made during an audience at the Vatican with members of the Italian Associazione Scienza & Vita (Science and Life Association), the pontiff decried victims of abortion and euthanasia, migrants left to die on the sea, and other travesties.
Progress in civilization is not measured by its advancements in technology, but “its capacity to protect life, especially during the most fragile stages,” he said.
“The scourge of abortion is an attack against life. Leaving our brothers on boats to die in the Sicilian channel is an attack against life. Death in the workplace, because the minimum safety conditions are not followed, is an attack against life. Death from malnutrition is an attack against life. Terrorism, war, violence; but also euthanasia are attacks against life.”
The Pope’s remarks come one day after nearly 750 migrants were rescued off the coast of Sicily, according to the Italian coast guard. Around 1,800 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean over the last five months, with some 60,000 having attempted the journey, the United Nations estimates.
Pope Francis also encouraged those present at the audience to engage with the scientific community.
“Do not be afraid of embarking on a fruitful dialogue with the world of science, even with those who, while not believers, remain open to the mystery of human life,” he said.
Life, Pope Francis said, “originates and accompanies all scientific progress; it is the miracle of life which always undermines some sort of scientific presumption, giving primacy to wonder and beauty.”
He told them not to lose sight of the “sacredness of every human person, in order that science may truly be at the service of man,” and not the other way around.
Science and Life Association, which is comprised of professionals in fields such as science, culture, and politics, met with the Pope in the Vatican on Saturday to mark the 10th anniversary of their founding.
Science has the ability to analyze specific details, Pope Francis said, which insures that “a just society recognizes the right to life from conception to natural death as paramount.”
“The protection and promotion of life represents a fundamental task, especially in a society marked by the negative logic of waste.”
The pontiff observed that protecting the person involves encountering and sustaining those in need of protection, a responsibility which extends “from the center toward the peripheries.”
“At the center, there is Christ,” the Pope said, and it is from “this centrality that you are directed toward the various conditions of human life.”
“The love of Christ pushes us to make ourselves servants of the little and the elderly, of every man and every woman, for whom the primordial right to live should be recognized and protected.”
“Therefore Christ, who is the light of man and the world, illuminates the way in order that science may always be knowledge in service of life.”
This recognition of life’s value, however, obligates us to consider how we make use of it, Pope Francis said.
“Life is above all a gift,” he said, and this creates hope and a future, so long as it is “enlivened” by familial and social relationships, which in turn “open new perspectives.”
“Loving life means to take care of the other, to love him, to cultivate and respect his transcendent dignity.”