Rights Can´t Be at Mercy of Majority Consensus, Says Academy

Conclusions of Annual Assembly at Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The right to life is non-negotiable, the annual assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life said in a final statement published today.



The "fundamental rights of man (as the history of nations demonstrates) are inviolable and non-negotiable; hence, they can never be at the arbitrary mercy of any social pact or majority consensus," affirm the academicians, who met here Feb. 25-27.

The assembly of the academy stated that part "of our contemporary culture, exasperating the right to individual rights, claims that the state should approve, decriminalize and allow the free carrying out of attacks against human life (especially the unborn and terminal)."

The object of these currents of thought is that they hope that "such actions will lose their ´criminal´ character in the collective conscience and, paradoxically, assume the character of a ´right,´" the statement says.

Experts in bioethics, law, science, medicine, philosophy and theology met to address the topic "Nature and Dignity of the Human Person as Foundation of the Right to Life: Challenges of the Contemporary Cultural Context."

Over three days, members of the academy stated that "one of the challenges of the present cultural context is the lack of recognition (by some currents of thought) of a universal human nature of which the natural moral law stems," the final text states.

For every one of man´s rights to be respected, it is indispensable to recover the sense of the "natural moral law," which they defined as "the light of intelligence infused in us by God."

"Thanks to it, we know what must be done and what must be avoided. God has given us this light and law in creation," they explained.

Yet, if "the exigencies that arise from the natural moral law" are not to remain simply as good intentions, "they need the law to recognize and protect them in social life," the academicians added.

Professor Michel Schooyans of the University of Leuven, one of the participants in the meeting, talked to ZENIT about the reasons for the academy´s conclusions.

"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives a clear definition of the right to life," he said. "However, in the second half of the 20th century, legislation has been approved in favor of abortion and, more recently, of euthanasia, which explicitly violates the right to life."

Monsignor Schooyans, a leading specialist in the relation between demography and development, said he believes the right to life will be increasingly confronted with the "worrying tendency that favors and justifies artificial insemination for eugenic ends."