Bioethicist Warns of Overreach
U.S. Physician Addresses Rimini Meeting
RIMINI, Italy, SEPT. 3, 2006 (ZENIT.org).- The hedonistic way of seeking happiness in things such as plastic surgery, television gurus and pills is vain, because "no pleasure is completely satisfactory," says a leading U.S. bioethicist.
Edmund Pellegrino, retired professor of medicine at Georgetown University and chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, made that point when addressing the topic "Bioethics and the Search for Happiness" at the recent Meeting of Friendship among Peoples, held in Rimini.
Pellegrino noted that "happiness is our destiny," because, as St. Thomas Aquinas said, "all the sciences and art are directed in an ordered way to happiness," though "our happiness will be full only after death, when we will be face to face with God."
In regard to the search for happiness and the use of new medical techniques, Pellegrino said that not everything is defendable from an ethical point of view.
"There are things in medicine that we should never do, such as for example, the use of embryonic stem cells," he said.
Improving on God
The bioethicist warned against making medicine a way of "arriving at a new creation of the human race, hoping to improve on what God has made," and he criticized undertakings such as diagnosis in the uterus to afterward "do away with the child who does not correspond to the idea of a perfect child."
According to Pellegrino, "Technology offers many doors to the search for human happiness, but it is a question of seeing which of these doors should never be opened and which should be closed right away."
"The desire to know, is the desire to know God," he continued. "But we must know how to use knowledge of good and evil, so that we do not all end up as Adam and Eve. … False hopes such as that of immortality should not be fed."
At the end of his address Aug. 22, the American professor addressed the question of the position of Christians in the face of new medical techniques.
In this connection, the speaker quoted Pope John Paul II, who wrote that "the pre-eminence must be affirmed of ethics over technology, and of the person over things."