From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Life is not a commodity, WCC chief says

Date Wed, 27 Aug 2003 16:21:07 -0500

Note #7900 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Life is not a commodity, WCC chief says
August 27, 2003

Life is not a commodity, WCC chief says

Raiser assails modern 'prejudice that we should all be perfect'

By Peter Kenny
Ecumenical News International

GENEVA - Churches must develop a new culture of caring and affirming life
that includes people considered by others to be disabled, the general
secretary of the World Council of Churches, Konrad Raiser, said on Aug. 26.

Raiser told the WCC's central committee that the experience of people with
disabilities raises critical questions about modern interpretations of the
Christian affirmation that humanity is created in the image of God.

Such interpretations have "exacerbated the prejudice that we should all be
perfect since we are made in God's image," Raiser said, quoting from a paper
that was to be debated by the central committee.

"Obvious failure to reach such notional perfection then becomes problematic,"
he said. "How can this person, who apparently has physical or mental defects,
be made in God's image?"

Raiser said questions are arising about what it means to be human.

In his speech, his last address to the central committee before his
retirement at general secretary at the end of the year, Raiser also referred
to advances in human genetic technology in such areas as prenatal
diagnostics, therapeutic cloning and stem-cell research.

"Here, incipient human life is treated as a commodity, the value of which is
being weighed over against the value of protecting other human life through
new forms of treatment," he said. "We have come today under the influence of
an economistic value system which turns everything into a commodity.

"What we call the sanctity of human life, its inviolability, means that human
life does not carry its meaning in itself, but can sustain itself and its
dignity ultimately only in relationship with God, with other humans and with
all created life."

An understanding of the sanctity of life has immediate implications in
biotechnology, he said: "It means that human beings are not at the disposal
of other humans (and) must not be used as instruments for other purposes or
subjected to purely economic interests."

But the challenges related to advances in technology aren't not limited to
human life alone, the WCC general secretary added, noting that the use of
animal and plant life for technological purposes and the manipulation of life
processes for the benefit of economic interests already have been found

"Caring for life," he pointed out, has "always been one of the central
motivations in the work of diaconia and service in the Christian churches."

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