February 19, 2003
"Global Ethic" Aiming to Supplant Christian Ethic,
Head of Council for Health Care Workers Analyzes "New Paradigm"
Vatican City, February 11, 2003
- A Vatican official warns of a plan to supplant Christian values with a "universal ethic" in the new context of globalization.
Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, analyzed and criticized the fundamental characteristics of the "New Paradigm" in an article in the Jan. 11 Italian edition of L'Osservatore Romano.
The article mentioned some of the most important topics of the World Day of the Sick (www.worlddayofthesick.org), held in Washington, D.C., today. Archbishop Lozano presided over the U.S. event in his capacity as special papal envoy.
According to the archbishop, this "New Paradigm" is influenced by the following ideological currents:
-- Eclecticism, which "accepts any affirmation on conduct regardless of its system, context and judgment";
-- Historicism, which holds that "truth changes according to its adaptation to a specific period of history."
-- Scientific spirit, which says "the only acceptable truth is the one which can be experienced scientifically";
-- Pragmatism: "the sole criterion of ethical decisions is their usefulness";
-- Nihilism: "gives up the capacity to arrive at objective truths."
Archbishop Lozano Barragán described the features of the New Paradigm as follows:
-- "The objective of the new global ethic is global well-being within sustainable development."
-- "This global well-being constitutes the end called 'quality of life,'" which means "the individual's perception of his position in life, in the context of culture and of the system of values in which he finds himself."
-- Quality of life covers six areas: "physical health, psychological health, level of dependence, social relations, milieu (economy, freedom, security, information, participation, environment, traffic, climate, transportation ...), spirituality (religion, personal beliefs)."
-- "What is basic is individual self-determination. Social obligations are disregarded."
Regarding religion and spirituality, the archbishop spelled out these points in the New Paradigm:
-- "The different religions existing in the world have been unable to generate this global ethic; therefore, they must be replaced by a new spirituality, which has as its end global well-being, within sustainable development."
-- "Nature, the earth, called 'GAIA,' is divine and inviolable. The human being is only one more element of it, who can only be understood in harmony with the earth."
-- "This new ethic is based on five pillars: human rights and responsibility, democracy and elements of civil society, protection of minorities, commitment to the peaceful solution of conflicts and honest negotiations, intergenerational equity."
-- "There are four problems that must be solved: the first affects the man-nature balance; the second the meaning of happiness, of life, and of plentitude; the third examines relations between the individual and the community; and the fourth looks to a balance between equity and freedom."
According to Archbishop Lozano Barragán, this theory imposes three principles on bioethics:
-- The principle of autonomy: "an action is good if it respects the freedom of the moral agent and of others."
-- The principle of beneficence: "good must always be done and evil avoided."
-- The principle of justice: "give each one his due."
These three principles end up submerged in relativism as, for example, according to the principle of autonomy "those who are not free are not considered for this moral action, for example, the handicapped, children, fetuses, embryos," the archbishop explained.
The principle of beneficence says that good must be done, but it does not explain what is the good for others. If one does not know what good is, good cannot be done consistently. And the same happens with justice, he added.
New Paradigm vs. Christianity
Archbishop Lozano Barragán explained that some of the values presented by the New Paradigm can be shared: concern for the environment, human rights, respect for minorities, democracy, social justice, health and education for all.
However, the New Paradigm manifests itself "as a new spirituality that supplants all religions, because the latter have been unable to preserve the ecosystem." In a word, this is "a new secular religion, a religion without God, or if you prefer, a new God that is the earth itself with the name GAIA," he said.
"The series of values that sustain the New Paradigm are values subordinated to this divinity that becomes the supreme ecological value, which they call sustainable development. The highest ethical end, within this sustainable development, is well-being," he wrote.
"Clearly, we are faced with the total denial of Christianity and the fundamental fact of Christianity, the Incarnation of the Word, the redeeming death of Christ and his glorious resurrection. If this historical fact is accepted, the assumption of the New Paradigm fails completely," the archbishop warned.
"This does not mean that the genuine values proclaimed by the New Paradigm also fail, values that are not foreign to Christian thought, but find their raison d'ętre in the latter," he added.
The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers said that the New Paradigm runs into its greatest problem "when it perceives that everything must be based on consensus, a consensus that does not stem from objective truths, but from subjective opinions."
"An authentic universal ethic, which really hopes to be global, must be an ethic founded on the objectivity of man himself . . . whose end is God himself and, in the final instance, the historical fact of the Incarnation of God," the archbishop concluded.
Archbishop Lozano Barragán explained that his analysis was based on Yersu Kim's "A Common Framework for Ethics of the 21st Century," published by UNESCO's Division of Philosophy and Ethics in 1999.