On 16th January over 7,500 participants in the Alliance VITA Bioethics Conference convened in more than 150 venues in France and abroad for the second instruction session titled “A reality to be listened to”.
Reality is always broader than one thinks, it also encompasses what cannot be seen. Reality is received, nourished, discovered. In order to work towards becoming what we are, to live in the real world, the path is not all that clear. Learning how to listen can be helpful.
Éric Chouteau, the general manager of Alliance VITA started the session by inviting the participants to broaden their perspective in order to better understand and apprehend reality. Through three examples of trading in the human body, as in prostitution, pornography and surrogate motherhood, Eric demonstrated that as soon as human dignity is challenged, one cannot partition off such realities into segments which are ethical and others which are not. According to him, reality cannot be enclosed in a scenario. Quite the contrary, it is through human relations, by the presence of others who enlighten that a person can escape from a negative scenario and open up other possibilities and a broader reality.
Pauline Quillon, a journalist with Famille Chrétienne, specializing in questions affecting society and author of an essay titled “Investigation on the Dysphoria of Gender (Mame, 2022), then described the painful reality of requests for “gender transitions” by minors. The debate opposes supporters of an “exclusively affirmative approach to trans identity” and those supporting a psycho-therapeutic approach aimed at “encouraging people to be reconciled with the gender of their birth. For the author, the thinking of the supporters of “self-determination of children” is weak “because it denies the common experience of the senses and that we are man or woman”
At the very heart of the Alliance VITA missions, listening inspires each of her actions, particularly when it comes to the reality of abortion. In order to shed light on this reality, Caroline Roux, the Deputy General Manager of Alliance VITA, who also coordinates the association listening and support help lines, reviewed the reasons which guide the public policies and analysed the situations which lead to abortions. In a context where demands to extend the conditions for access to abortion are ever more pressing, despite the ever increasing number of abortions in reality, Caroline recalled the need to explore the field of prevention by accompaniment, support and listening.
The session ended with an inspiring testimony by Christian de Cacqueray, the founder of the Catholic Funeral Service, the reality of all realities which is death. Through the accompaniment of grieving families and his practice of mourning rites, he supports a wisdom of life anchored in the prospect of death. In his view, the conscience of death provides a greater hunger for life. According to Christian de Cacqueray “We are not made for death”. The prospect of death, which is unavoidable and unpredictable, invites us to question the value of life. “In view of this common destiny, there is material for more life, a greater intensity of life.”
In very many towns throughout France and abroad, the sessions concluded with local testimonies by doctors, carers, voluntary workers, help line listeners, parents etc.
The next session, on 23rd January, is on the theme of “A world to construct”.