By NICOLE WINFIELD
2007-09-29 12:27 AM
Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, who heads the Vatican office for health care workers, said the U.N.-embraced ideology of "health for all" promotes a state of complete mental, physical and social well-being.
While that goal may have some merit, he said the ideology is wrongheaded because it is "closed to the transcendent."
"Christ does not delude us promising total well-being in this world; rather he promises us happiness," Barragan told a conference on health and technology sponsored by the Acton Institute, a conservative think tank that promotes limited government and free markets in the study of liberty and faith.
He said the United Nations in general and the World Health Organization in particular, as well as some non-governmental organizations, had embraced what he called this "paradigm shift in the ethical reflection on health."
Calls to the WHO seeking comment were not successful Friday afternoon.
Barragan's main complaint was that the ideology makes a distinction between a conscious person, who can enter into relationships with others, and an unconscious human being _ which the Vatican says includes embryos _ who cannot enter into such relationships.
"If at any given moment, someone is not capable of acting as such, he ceases to be a person and is simply a human being or an individual deprived of any right that could be described as a human right," Barragan said.
The Vatican maintains that embryos enjoy the same right to life as children and adults.
Barragan also complained that a "health for all" ideology "ignores or conceals" death and the suffering, pain and sickness that accompany it.
Catholic teaching holds that the suffering of Jesus when he was crucified gives sense to human suffering, helping it become a means of purification and salvation.