Christus Vivit 82: Physical Modification

Chapter Three of Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation discusses how genetics, surgery and other advances can impact the body. You can access the full document on this link at the Vatican site. What was once considered science fiction is now a reality:

82. In our times, “advances in the sciences and in biomedical technologies have powerfully influenced perceptions about the body, leading to the idea that it is open to unlimited modification. The capacity to intervene in DNA, the possibility of inserting artificial elements into organisms (cyborgs) and the development of the neurosciences represent a great resource, but at the same time they raise serious anthropological and ethical questions”.[FD 37]

Such developments also make possible a degree of recovery from injury and illness. There’s no way back from that. And perhaps more significantly, people alter their visual presentation, as they have for millennia. Why change one’s body when it is more economical to change one’s clothes, hair, or skin?

They can make us forget that life is a gift, and that we are creatures with innate limits, open to exploitation by those who wield technological power.[Cf. Laudato Si’ 106]

The exploitation is also–and maybe more frequently–external.

“Moreover, in some youth circles, there is a growing fascination with risk-taking behavior as a means of self-exploration, seeking powerful emotions and gaining attention… These realities, to which young generations are exposed, are an obstacle to their serene growth in maturity”.[FD 37]

I suppose I’d ask: is risky behavior really new? Sure: we can do things today impossible centuries ago, things like flying. But the drive for excitement may be part of the human experience.

Any comments?

The text in color is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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