By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
New technology that allow parents to choose the genetic characteristics of their babies threatens to breed new forms of racism, the Vatican said during a United Nations conference on racism which was held in Geneva this week.
The forum, which was designed to confront modern forms of discrimination, made headlines this week when members walked out during an anti-Semitic rant by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“The Holy See is also alarmed by the still latent temptation of eugenics that can be fueled by techniques of artificial procreation and the use of ‘superfluous embryos’,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Vatican observer to the U.N.
“The possibility of choosing the color of the eyes or other physical characteristic of a child could lead to the creation of a ‘subcategory of human beings’ or the elimination of human beings that do not fulfill the characteristics predetermined by a given society.”
He went on to list discrimination against a variety of groups ranging from immigrants, to girls, to “persons perceived to be or who are in fact different.”
“(I)n all its manifestations, racism makes the false claim that some human beings have less dignity and value than others; it thus infringes upon their fundamental equality as God’s children and it leads to the violation of the human rights of individuals and of entire groups of persons,” the Archbishop said.
He also warned that “increased security concerns” in a world plagued by terrorism “have created a greater lack of confidence among people of different cultures and have exacerbated the irrational fear of foreigners.”
The solution doesn’t lie in international covenants and changes in the law, he said.
“Without a change of heart, laws are not effective. It is the heart that must continually be purified so that it will no longer be governed by fear or the spirit of domination, but by openness to others, fraternity and solidarity.”
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