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An ecumenical word on the future of man

· Conference in Brussels on the ethical and religious aspects of new scientific frontiers ·

What happens to man's self-understanding and to religious piety when human life is seen as the subject of a technological project rather than a result of evolution or divine creation? These are the central questions which the ecumenical conference “Human  Enhancement: Moral, Religious and Ethical Aspects from a European Perspective” strives to answer. The conference is being held in Brussels from 25-27 April and is sponsored by the Conference of European Churches (CEC), at the wish of the secretary general of the Council of Europe, and in collaboration, among others, with the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe.

The congress, organized in 2011 by an international commission of theologians and scientists, began as a process for ecumenical in-depth examination of various themes. The CEC wants to contribute to modern debate on the relationship of ethics, science and technology, especially turning their attention to the most recent developments in bioethics and biotechnology.

The meeting will address themes which the CEC has reflected on in past ecumenical meetings, when they began considering how Christians should respond to new scientific frontiers. In fact, previously in 2003, the Church and Society Commission organized an ecumenical conference on the theme: “Human life in our hands? Churches and Bioethics”.  Nearly 100 church representatives and ecclesial communities from 22 countries participated in a first international ecumenical meeting, which discussed the most controversial themes of the time.

Through the years the ecumenical discussion on the relationship between ethics and science has increased, generating lots of interest and bringing out several difficulties not only between different Christian traditions, but also within individual denominations, called to reckon with the urging   of European and national institutions. One of the signs of this increasing interest is the document on Human Enhancement, prepared by a bioethics and biotechnology working group of the CEC and presented at the general assembly in Lyon in 2009.

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